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Cobra Kai Season Three – Review

Ethan Anderson

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Miguel Cobra Kai Season Three image
Netflix

The long-awaited Season Three of Cobra Kai is here, streaming now on Netflix, but is it any good, here’s our review.

Besides cathartic and well-choreographed teenage karate, two things keep audiences watching Cobra Kai. The first is that the show never stops changing. Characters that began season one as meek bully bait ended it as the aggressive bullies. Others started by wrestling with resentment and bitterness to end up in a state of inner peace. In Season Two, friendships and alliances form and falter. Conflicts that appear close to resolving end up accelerating. Like a cobra, the show slithers.

The second what The Karate Kid franchise is all about: heart, and the ability to improve oneself. Even for a karate show, Cobra Kai is full of conflict and characters that do awful things to one another. Yet we can help but earnestly root for each of them on every side. Except for John Kreese, that is.

Season Three continues these themes while also elevating them. Not only is change constant, but about-faces abound. Characters confront their demons, learn to let go of the past, and reconcile with enemies. The first two seasons slither; Season Three plants its roots and grows.

SPOILERS: If you’re reading this then you’ve probably seen the show, but if not there are spoilers ahead.

Highs

Two particular characters bring out this theme of evolution from each of our two leads. First, Danny LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) travels to Okinawa, seeking simplicity and retreat. Instead, he finds a Tomi Village that has seen four decades of Japanese capitalism. He luckily runs into Kumiko (Tamlyn Tomita), who remains the ray of sunshine she was in The Karate Kid Part II. After reconnecting, Kumiko brings Danny to meet with Chozen (Yuji Okumoto). At first, Danny is apprehensive about spending time around his former attempted murderer. But Chozen reveals secret Miyagi karate techniques even Mr. Miyagi kept hidden.

These techniques are a complete turnaround from the typical Miyagi style of defence. In particular, Danny learns the secrets of Miyagi pressure points and how to numb them. As Chozen says, “If your enemy insists on war, take away his ability to wage it.” They end their brief reunion in forgiveness and friendship, the same as their senseis four decades previous.

For Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka), his evolution comes from the person in the past he never let go. Mild spoilers for the end of the season, but we are finally graced with the presence of Ali (Elizabeth Shue). She and Johnny have a lovely day reminiscing and regretting. They run into Danny and Amanda (Courtney Henggeler) at a Christmas party, where Ali takes both men down a notch (and rewrites a little canon). It takes the woman at the centre of a rivalry echoing for forty years to get the men in it to see they are the same. It’s ironic that the characters brought in for the nostalgia factor teach us to let go of nostalgia.

The season is full of other highs. Miguel (Xolo Maridueno) recovers from paralysis to become the best of his Season One and Season Two selves. Sam (Mary Mauser) faces the trauma and panic resulting from the Season Two finale. Robby (Tanner Buchanan) and Tory (Peyton List) wrestle with, and succumb to, their guilt. Hawk sheds more of his decency every episode, and Jacob Bertrand portrays his fading humanity with impressive subtlety. Amanda, whose aloofness from the drama has been her charm, finally gets in the middle of it. And as insane as John Kreese is, Season Three gives us a humanising window into the man.

Lows

The lows are easy to ignore, but believability gets strained in this season. It’s natural that stakes are hard to raise after a school-wide karate riot. But the antics of Cobra Kai pass into outright felonies, culminating in a home invasion with the intent of aggravated assault. The tone becomes confusing, setting lighthearted teen comedy alongside scenes of deadly fear. We’ve moved from high school bullying too, “Why is no one calling the police? Do any of these kids have parents anymore besides the LaRussos and Carmen?”

These complaints would usually be leaning into the nitpicky side of things. But this season features both cops and parental political will as major subplots! Robby goes to jail and the PTA pressures the high school to act on the karate issue and institute new rules. We see Miyagi-Do characters blamed for the karate riot, but how does Cobra Kai avoid getting bad press? John “been fighting in Nam mentally for over half a century” Kreese stands before the city council and gets thanked while Danny gets reamed.

Robby’s character arc is understandable and necessary from a narrative standpoint. But the individual twists of his arc lacked effective execution. Rather than the intended tragic figure, Robby is coming across as a kid who absorbs a new personality once he spends two episodes with a group of people.

Easter Eggs

Fitting for a season interested in roots, Season Three has a lot of easter eggs from The Karate Kid Part II. Johnny begins the season by emulating his Sensei by breaking some car windows with his fists. Chozen and Danny have a sparring match that ends in the very same finishing move as their climactic fight. Kumiko is following her dream of being a traditional Okinawan dancer and reveals that she has remained, in Danny’s old words, “a free agent” over the years. Sam bonds with Miguel by explaining the secret of the Okinawan hand drum and the karate lesson it holds. And Danny recounts to Chozen the story of Miyagi karate´s origin that Mr Miyagi once told to him. And a character that Danny saved forty years ago returns to save him from his own troubled situation.

What to expect

Season Four’s release date has yet to be announced, though many predict January 2021. It promises to be a high-octane thrill ride. Season One introduced and developed the characters. Then Season Two entrenched their arcs and conflicts. Season Three reinvented and regrouped them. We expect Season Four is thus prepared for a climactic confrontation, our heroes banded together against the horde of villains. A climactic battle for the soul of karate is forthcoming, and it won´t be as cheesy as that sounds. Though, knowing those Miyagi students, they may find a peaceful resolution at the end of the day.


CULTURE CROSSING SCORE 9/10


Thank you for reading our review of Cobra Kai Season Three. Do you agree or disagree with our points or have anything to add? If so, leave us a comment below.


Check out our Cobra Kai Season Two review HERE.

Read IMDB information about Cobra Kai HERE.

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The Good, The Bad And The Classic

Sarah Casserley

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Star From Disney Plus

Disney Plus Star image
Disney Plus

Disney Plus introduced Star to the service a little while ago now with loads of highlights. We’re sure, like us, you’ve had a good old delve into the catalogue and watched some of your faves. But, just in case you’ve missed anything, we have put together a little guide on what’s good to get stuck into. Also what’s bad and could do with being swiped past, and the classic must-see TV series and films that you probably didn’t even realise were there.

So, when you find yourself looking for something to watch on a Friday evening or binge for a couple of weeks, don’t scroll endlessly, just take a look at our guide of Disney Plus Star recommendations.


The Good

These are the films and series that have been released within the last 10 years, which you need to watch or should at least be on your ‘to watch’ list.

Series on Disney Plus Star

Atlanta (2016 – Present)

If you haven’t watched this series yet, why not? The creative and talented Donald Glover heads up the show as the main character ‘Earn’, and on the writing credits too (among 6 others, including his brother Stephen Glover), in this funny, gritty and realistic series which follows a rapper ‘Paper Boy’ and his manager Earn (Glover) as they navigate the rap business. If you have watched the show before, you may want to re-watch for a recap as season 3 has been promised to us very soon.

9-1-1 (2018 – Present)

This isn’t just any emergency service drama, this series covers the lives of several Los Angeles first responders: police officers, paramedics, firefighters, and dispatchers. It also has some big names involved, including Angela Bassett and, later in the series, Jennifer Love Hewitt. For some reason though, there’s only two of the four seasons of 9-1-1 on Disney Plus Star so far, but it’s well worth a watch and we’re sure the other two seasons should be along soon.

Doll Face (2019 – Present)

By the title alone, and the fact that it’s a weekly release, it initially looked like this series was set around a stereotypical break up and was destined for the bad list. However, the witty script, amazing female actors and relatable storyline made me put this series firmly within the good pile as I can’t wait to watch more. Kat Dennings takes the lead in the series and really brings to life upcoming writer Jordan Weiss’ story of female friendships after a breakup.

Films on Disney Plus Star

The Fault in Our Stars (2014)

This beautiful coming of age story, based on a book with the same name, is a great watch for all ages, not just teens. Be ready for oodles of romance, as well as teary and heart-warming moments, as you follow two teens affected by cancer as they set off on a journey of discovery.

The Favourite (2018)

We love a period drama, and this quirky look at the reign of Queen Anne is no exception. With starring roles from Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz, Emma Stone and Nicholas Hoult, it’s no wonder The Favourite had 336 nominations in award season and 182 wins. It’s definitely one of the best films from the last 5 years on Disney Plus Star.

Deadpool 2 (2018)

There are some examples coming up in these lists that give sequels a bad name, however, Deadpool 2 isn’t one of them. If you were putting off watching this one because of the sequel curse, don’t, it’s just as good – if not better – than the first. Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) is back as the foul-mouthed superhero and, this time, he brings some new friends: Domino (Zazie Beetz), Fire Fist (Julian Dennison) and Weasel (T.J. Miller) among others.


The Bad

There’s not as many on this ‘bad’ list as Star has done a pretty good job with their chosen titles. However, like any service, there are always a few bad eggs in our opinion… This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t watch these, it’s more of a warning that there may be better things to press play on.

Series on Disney Plus Star

Lost (2004 – 2010)

To be completely honest here, the first two seasons of Lost are very entertaining and interesting to watch, as you follow several people who try to survive a plane crash and have to adapt to life on a strange island. But, by the middle of season three, things start to get a little confusing and we found ourselves getting lost (pun intended) in the plot until the final sixth season, only to be hit with a heavily reported disappointing end… even worse than some people’s feelings about Game Of Thrones. So, we recommendation delving into some of the other series rather than this one.

24: Legacy (2017)

Trying to build another series from an established series can be very hit or miss – and this one was a huge miss. So much so that Fox axed it just after one series.

It takes on the same format as the original 24 series, where one season is just one day, however, this time they are trying to stop a terrorist attack. The format just doesn’t work with this storyline and you lose a lot of momentum and excitement, plus the acting just isn’t the best.

Films on Disney Plus Star

Independence Day: Resurgence (2016)

Just like building another series off a series, sequels can also be tricky beasts… some are good, some are bad and, when it follows an absolute classic like ‘Independence Day’, it needs to be amazing. Unfortunately, this one didn’t quite live up to the legacy of the first film; I mean, not even ‘Hunger Games’ Liam Hemsworth couldn’t get this to match up with the original. But it is still entertaining, so if you do decide to watch this one, just do so with caution.


The Classic

As you have probably already noticed there are some absolute classics on Disney Plus Star, so this is going to be the longest list, full of series that you can binge from start to finish and films that stand the test of time and can be re-watched repeatedly. Most of these titles don’t need much explanation as you’ll have already watched or heard about them, but you might not have spotted them yet on Disney Plus Star as some were buried deep in the archives.

Series on Disney Plus Star

X Files (1993 – 2001)

If you were born in the 90s or 00s, this one may have gone under your radar; however, once you watch the first season full of aliens, wired going ons and the brilliantly disjointed relationship of FBI agents, conspiracy theorist Fox Mulder and realist Dana Scully, you won’t want to stop watching. Granted some of the special effects are a little dated and unbelievable, but you will soon forget about that as you get sucked into the narrative.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer (1997 – 2002)

I know, I know, it’s hard to think there are people out there that haven’t watched a single vampire slaying, kick-ass, sci-fi loaded episode… but there is. If you are one of those people, what are you waiting for? Every single episode is here wating for you to binge. If you don’t fancy delving into the full thing, I would recommend at least taking a peek at the seventh episode of the sixth series (Once More, with Feeling: Buffy the Musical).

24 (2001 – 2014)

Before Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) burst on our screens in 2001, this kind of format for a series had never been attempted before and it just worked, so much so it ran for 9 seasons. It may seem odd at first, as each series is just one day, but you really do get sucked in.

Grey’s Anatomy (2005 – 2018)

Within its almost 13 years of being on air, this series has offered every heart-warming and breath-holding moment you need from a hospital-based drama. This would be a perfect series to start if you want something that will last you a while.

Sons of Anarchy (2008 – 2014)

Bikes, leather and action: what’s not to like? This series ran for a glorious 7 seasons, and within these episodes, there is storyline upon storyline that will keep you hooked and wanting to know more about the motorcycle club that straddles the line between legal and illegal.

Films on Disney Plus Star

(We’re pretty sure you will have watched most of these films, but they are well worth a re-watch)

Planet of the Apes (1968)

The film that started them all. Since the release of this film in 1968, there have been seven more sequels and remakes of the original sci-fi movie, two of which you can also watch on Disney Plus Star: Planet Of the Apes (2001) and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014).

Jewel of the Nile (1985)

It could possibly be that the countless TV showings over the have passed you by, but if you’ve not seen Jewel of the Nile, you should definitely give it a go. Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner and Danny DeVito are fantastic in this pure 80s romantic action comedy.

Cocktail (1988)

Sticking within the 80s romantic comedy realm, you’ve also got Cocktail, which is full of love ultimatums, with a dash of cheese. Come on, you know you want to watch a young Tom Cruise at work.

The Fly (1986)

One name – Jeff Goldblum. Watch it.

Pretty Woman (1990)

We were just as excited as the first time we watched it when we saw this classic on the service. To not watch this again would be a big mistake. HUGE.

Toys (1992)

This wonderfully wacky story by Valerie Curtin and Barry Levinson comes alive with the help of one of the best comedic actors of all time, Robin Williams, alongside the wonderful Joan Cusack and, bizarrely, LL Cool J.

What’s Love Got To Do With It (1993)

Whether you love Tina Turner’s music or not, it does not matter. This is one of the most interesting and inspirational biographical movies that you will ever watch. Word of warning, the incredible Angela Bassett and Lawrence Fishburne are so great at their roles that some of the more sensitive scenes are very realistic.

Braveheart (1995)

With any new service, there are glitches, and we found one! Whilst watching this absolute classic a few weeks ago, about two and a half hours into the film the screen when to the small screen format as if the credits had come up, making it difficult to watch the last part of the film. However, when we went to finish the film off a week later the glitch had been fixed and you can now watch the whole film without interruption… FREEDOM!

William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet (1996)

We all know that when it comes to film, Baz Luhrmann is a genius and he doesn’t disappoint with this abstract take on the story. It’s worth watching for the soundtrack alone.

Independence Day (1996)

90s Will Smith doing what he did best: lots of running, fighting and shouting – need I say more? Oh yes, you can also watch another one of his masterpieces, Enemy of the State (1998) on this service too.

Con Air (1997)

‘Put the bunny back in the box’ and sit down and watch this classic… we all know Nicholas Cage films can be a little unpredictable, but this film is definitely a hit, especially as he is joined by other legends of the screen, including John Malkovich, Steve Buscemi, John Cusack and Ving Rhames.

The Devil Wears Prada (2006)

Well if it’s at our fingertips, why not watch this film for the 56th time… this year.


So, there you have it, these are some of our highlights and must-miss titles from Disney Plus Star. Are there any that we missed? If so, comment below and let us know what category they belong in.


Check out the top 10 hidden gems in the other Disney Plus feeds HERE.

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