Review: Cobra Kai Season III (Spoiler-Free)

COBRA KAI (L to R) WILLIAM ZABKA as JOHNNY LAWRENCE, MARTIN KOVE as JOHN KREESE, and RALPH MACCHIO as DANIEL LARUSSO of COBRA KAI Cr. COURTESY OF NETFLIX © 2020

Cobra Kai season 3 arrives on Netflix on 1st January 2021

Get your Crane Kicks at the ready as Cobra Kai now under the Netflix band returns with season III and ups the ante on previous seasons with a bigger budget, wider scope and so much storylines and crossovers that the 10 episodes simply won’t seem enough.

Cobra Kai left viewers reeling at the end of the season finale of series II, what with the epic battle at All Valley High in what added up the best 30 minutes in TV history. So where do they go from there? Well, everywhere it seems. The 10 episodes are full of so much content that it almost comes across like the Cobra Kai production team were making sure all bases were covered in case they didn’t get a season 4 greenlit (They did).

It all kicks off pretty much directly in the aftermath of the All Valley high battle of the Dojos. Miguel (Xolo Maridueña) is in hospital, Robby (Tanner Buchanan) is missing and Sam (The brilliant Mary Mouser) is in a state. Daniel (Ralph Macho) and Johnny (William Zabka) are at loggerheads once more and Sensei Kreese (Martin Kove) is conspiring to take over the Karate world once more with his new breed of Cobra Kai. It opens pretty bleakly and the first couple of episodes spend their time dealing with all these issues.

Then from episode 3 onwards things pick up at a great pace and hurtle towards the season 3 finale at breakneck pace. We see some of Kreese’s background, Daniel returns to Okinawa and Johnny? Well, he continues to be Johnny. The story comes at you thick and fast, so you would be wise before watching to maybe give Karate Kid Part II a bit of a re-watch to keep you in the running.

The series much like it predecessors is a whole heap of fun. For anyone who remembers the original movies, it’s now gone beyond a loving nostalgia to find out what happened to the characters after the final credits rolled and taken life of a new and fresh and standing on its own as a superb series. Unlike Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead, which started out strong from their source material and faded away, with tired writing and lacklustre storylines, Cobra Kai just goes from strength to strength. By the time you’ve probably binged the entire series in one or two days, you will be yearning for season 4.

Much kudos should goto Ralph Macchio and William Zabka for being an absolutely brilliant pairing, at times like a modern day Laurel and Hardy/Abbott and Costello. Their scenes together, whether they are bickering, fighting, arguing or simply struggling to cope with today’s world are simply genius. Martin Kove’s Kreese should now be up there with the all time villains such as Darth Vader, The Joker, Xenomorth, Thanos and Hannibal Lecter, he’s so simply evil and conniving throughout you can’t wait to see what he does next. Borderline Sociopathic Kreese looms large over everything in this season, have no doubt he’s the one pulling the strings and Johnny, Daniel and all the students end up one way or another dancing to his tune.

The other thing that makes Cobra Kai rise above all other TV series is that even the co-stars are given time for their characters to breath and have decent story arcs rather than make up the numbers. Jacob Bertrand & Courtney Henggeler as Hawk and the long suffering Amanda Larusso are outstanding with Betrand a future star in the making. Peyton List is given a more serious sub plot this time around featuring her family situation and a slimy landlord, a far cry from the days of Jessie and Bunk’d and allows her to show how good of an actress she is becoming.

However, that said Cobra Kai’s strength is also its weakness at times as there simply soo much going on that it feels a little bloated and some of what is thrown at you could have waited for season 4. Characters & locations return, Chosen (KKII bad guy) and Kumiko (Daniels love interest in KKII) are the latest examples. Others are written off in a line or two (Nichole Brown’s Aisha and Paul Walter Hauser (Raymon/Stingray)) in various scenes. There’s plenty of fan service/Easter eggs, surprises and serious excitement to keep the hardest to please Karate Kid fan happy here. One thing other films and shows have struggled with is getting the levels of fan service right. Cobra Kai has worked out how to balance this correctly, it’s not in your face, it’s not blink and you’ll miss it, but it’s there for all to see without being rammed down the viewers throat. which is a welcome change from other shows and films that will remain (For now) nameless.

The season finale doesn’t quite live up to the Season 2 finale standard, however it does sow the seeds for what’s to come, but by episodes 7/8 you should have figured that all out if you’ve been paying attention. Before the Cobra Kai season finale credits roll there are a couple of real shocks in store for you all. You’ll also be yearning for the return of (REDACTED) & (REDACTED) as it seems the story is leading in that direction. So in a few months time maybe roll out Karate Kid Part III in preparation.

Cobra Kai Season III is certainly going to live up to the hype, the only real complaint is that when you are having this much fun, you won’t it to end.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Cobra Kai season 3 arrives on Netflix on 1st January 2021

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