Cobra Kai Season 3 Review


Strike First. Strike Hard. No mercy.

Decades after the 1984 All Valley Karate Tournament, a middle-aged Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) and Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) find themselves martial-arts rivals again in The Karate Kid Netflix spin-off series, Cobra Kai

Packed with references to the Karate Kid franchise, humor, and action-packed showdowns, Cobra Kai follows Johnny Lawrence, now a man beaten up by life, as he decides to bring back the Cobra Kai dojo and take up his new, scrawny neighbor Miguel (Xolo Maridueña) as his first student. Along with the dojo, however, Johnny’s rivalry with Daniel is also rekindled. 

Cobra Kai features both old and new characters, including Martin Kove as former Cobra Kai sensei and villain John Kreese, as well as Mary Mouser, who plays Daniel LaRusso’s daughter, Sam, and Tanner Buchanan, who plays Johnny’s estranged son, Robby Keene. 

The series, whose first two seasons aired as Youtube Red originals, was acquired by Netflix back in 2020 and renewed for a third and fourth season, the former of which was released on January 1st. The season follows the aftermath of the action-packed season 2 finale, which ended with a nearly fatal accident. From Miguel’s road to recovery, Daniel’s struggle with living up to Mr. Miyagi, and Johhny trying to save his students from John Kreese’s evil teachings, the third season of Cobra Kai is filled with arcs that both old and new fans are sure to enjoy. 

Like with the previous installments, the best part of Cobra Kai’s newest season is the character dynamics. Whether it is an old rivalry between Daniel and Johnny or a new one between former friends Hawk (Jacob Bertrand) and Demetri (Gianni DeCenzo), Cobra Kai manages to keep viewers on the edge of their seats with every new episode. 

Throughout the show, clips from the movies have been used to stir up viewers’ memories when an old character appears. As always, the references to the Karate Kid franchise are never shoehorned but rather appropriate with the events of each episode, especially the allusions to Mr. Miyagi and his teachings.

Perhaps the biggest weakness with the new season is the way Kreese’s backstory was explored. Flashbacks of Kreese in the Vietnam War appear every now and then, but they do so in a way that feels forced and at times inappropriate. Even though, it offers a decent enough explanation as to why Kreese is the ruthless and merciless villain that we come to know throughout the franchise. 

Although slightly lighter in comparison to the darker second season, the new batch of episodes is filled with just as many laughs and thrills. In addition, the new season does a very good job of shaking up the already established dynamic between Daniel and Johnny, keeping old fans satisfied while simultaneously offering new viewers a newer, more refreshing take on the old rivalry and which of the two was the real victim. 

Cobra Kai is rated TV-14 and is streaming on Netflix.