The Karate Kid Is All Grown Up and Actually the Bad Guy Now
In a year when our flag-wavingest Republicans have revisited Rocky IV and decided that Ivan Drago was the guy to root for, it only makes sense that we would reboot The Karate Kid with Johnny Lawrence as the good guy.
The trailer for YouTube Red’s upcoming series Cobra Kai has been released, and it is almost too perfect for our moment.
In it, we learn that Johnny Lawrence, the blonde bad guy with the hot car and the dirty fighting style, has never really gotten over his humiliation at the hand (or, you know, foot) of Daniel LaRusso 34 years ago. He’s still living in the Valley, slamming full-strength Coors in the daytime, and going nowhere. Meanwhile, LaRusso owns a car dealership and seems like a little bit of a prick. He’s a lovable loser in 2018, our Johnny, until he rediscovers the unique pleasures of savagely beating teenagers.
His life finds its center as he assembles a ragtag bunch of high schoolers and teaches them how to sweep the leg. (Is he teaching these kids how to defend themselves? Not really; it’s more to keep “the girls” from thinking they’re “wangless dorks.”)
LaRusso gets wind of the return of the Cobra Kai dojo, reaches for his iconic headband, and swears: “You. Me. This. It’s not over.” Expect high kicks and pratfalls. Expect to wonder how Ralph Macchio still refuses to age. Expect a warm return for William Zabka, who in the meantime has become an Oscar-nominated film producer and should probably know better.
Of course, in 2018, we get a Karate Kid where the privileged asshole is a sympathetic character. Of course we get a show where the hard-working, self-made striver we rooted for in the ‘80s is kind of a wiener. This is Donald Trump’s America, and not even your childhood is safe anymore.
We’ll see if the people who loudly complained when the Ghostbusters team went female have anything to say about this. Cobra Kai debuts in May.
This story originally appeared on Esquire.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.