Last week, Karate Kid fans were given the surprise of a lifetime when it was announced that Ralph Macchio (Daniel LaRusso) and William Zabka (Johnny Lawrence) will reunite for a new YouTube Red series Cobra Kai, which was given a 10-episode straight-to-series order on YouTube Red. Both stars have revealed new details about this Cobra Kai series, which is set 30 years after the events of the original Karate Kid movie. Ralph Macchio reveals he has been very protective of the franchsie over the years, but he said yes to this project because of the fresh angle from creators Josh Heald (Hot Tub Time Machine), Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg (Harold & Kumar).
"What made me say yes after all these years, and I've been very protective of the franchise and where Daniel LaRusso sits in the world 30 years later, these guys, Josh, Hayden and Jon had such a smart and fresh angle in. It was relevant today yet had all the pop culture, they had the perfect marriage and angle in bringing it from the Johnny Lawrence [point of view]. It's not unlike how Creed was a film that was about Apollo Creed's son but you had Rocky Balboa in it in a certain way. Cobra Kai is not the first time anyone looks at a fresh angle from the villain's point of view, but it was just smart to go that way and to cover these dual lives and do a rivalry series in a smart and funny way, and on top of that infuse the high school world, which is a big part of the show as well, for the new generation. Johnny befriends one of Daniel's kids, and that is how it connects that world into our own rivalry world. There's a tremendous amount of heart and kick-ass action sequences and martial arts, but the inherent humor comes from the fact that these are two guys who are in their 50s and still have an ax to grind. It goes back to those places where you just can't let go and you're still a teenager at heart and yet balancing your adult life, it's like the rise of the Cobra Kai. It's the worst nightmare for someone like Daniel LaRusso."
The 10-episode, half-hour series, coming to YouTube Red in 2018, reimagines one of Hollywood's most popular tales of rivalry and redemption. Thirty years after the events of the 1984 All Valley Karate Tournament, a down-and-out Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) seeks redemption by reopening the infamous Cobra Kai karate dojo, reigniting his rivalry with a now successful Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio), who has been struggling to maintain balance in his life without the guidance of his mentor, Mr. Miyagi. The show is about two men addressing past demons and present frustrations the only way they know how: through karate. Ralph Macchio also spoke about how the absence of Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita passed away in 2005) was crucial to the development of this show. Here's what he had to say at the TCA panel, courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter.
"In the early stages of us pitching to the networks, it was really important to me to have that element and that void that's in Daniel's life right now. He used to train his oldest daughter when she was a kid, but now she's at the age where it's not as cool to hang out with dad. So there's a real void in his life when he doesn't have that. Mr. Miyagi is the human Yoda to young Luke Skywalker. So as an adult and a parent, my kids are in their 20s now, I would love to have had Mr. Miyagi's wisdom many times in raising my own kids. There's a piece of that void in his life that is going to resonate on the dramatic side of the show and where martial arts, [which] was such a piece of his adolescence and young adulthood, is now brought back by the nemesis raising the banner on the Cobra Kai. And now Daniel can't sit and let that happen."
While this will be the first time Ralph Macchio and William Zabka will be seen together in several years, they both came together to voice Daniel LaRusso and Johnny Lawrence in an episode of AdultSwim's hit animated series Robot Chicken. Ralph Macchio added that it took some convincing to get him to come back as Daniel-San. Here's what he had to say below.
"It was not easy to get me to do it. I've been asked and pitched many times over the years. This was a smart and fresh angle, and I believe things happen at a certain time for a certain reason, and this was just the right time. If this was a broadcast television pilot and then wait and see? This is the way to do it. Audiences now gravitate to this type of platform for entertainment. It was timing and the angle that these guys had with the story. He's become very successful and maybe has lost a little bit of touch, he needs to have flaws, and he had flaws as a kid and he will have them as an adult. His heart is always in the right place. As I've done at 50-something years old, there comes a time where part of your life creates some challenges: raising teenagers, trying to handle your successful business and having your nemesis come back 30 years later [that] keep you up at night just because of the importance of carrying on the Miyagi legacy. Then how Daniel's wife will embrace or not embrace this new chapter of him now going back to the dojo. I'm looking forward to that evolution."
With over $619 million at the worldwide box office, The Karate Kid franchise has entertained millions of fans for over 3 generations. For years, YouTube fans from around the world have also kept the legend of the films alive through uploads of clips, tributes and related content, amassing over 1 billion views to date. William Zabka added that the rivalry between Daniel and Johnny is still there, 30 years later, even though they have both moved on with their lives. Here's what he had to say below.
"They've gone on with their lives, but that rivalry is always still there. It's like a football game you lost in high school but the whole world saw it. It's always there: 'If only I just did this...' Through this show, you get to see who he was and where he came from. I never saw Johnny as a bad guy; I always saw him as the antagonist but at his core, he had a good heart. At the beginning of the first movie, he said he had one year to make it all work and that's what he wanted to do. He was an ex-degenerate. Then LaRusso comes in town and turns his world upside down. At the very end, he hands him a trophy and says, 'You're all right, LaRusso.' He has a good heart and they tap into that in the show. You're going to empathize with him. He's still tough and rough around the edges, but it's a really smart and fun take on it and I think it'll be really entertaining. It's like getting reacquainted with an old friend. We have our peace to make between the two of us."
Hurwitz & Schlossberg will direct much of the series. James Lassiter and Caleeb Pinkett will executive produce for Overbrook Entertainment in association with Sony Pictures Television Studios. No further casting details were given for Cobra Kai yet, but now that this series has been announced, hopefully we'll find out more about this highly-anticipated series.