Review: Cobra Kai – Season 4 (Spoiler Free)

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The battle for the soul of the valley is here finally.  After what seemingly is a more arduous wait than when you had to wait between seasons for Game Of Thrones, Cobra Kai Season 4 is here!  

Season 4 finds the Miyagi-Do and Eagle Fang dojos joining forces to take down Cobra Kai at the All Valley Under 18 Karate Tournament… and whoever loses must hang up their gi. As Samantha and Miguel try to maintain the dojo alliance and Robby goes all in at Cobra Kai, the fate of the Valley has never been more precarious. What tricks does Kreese have up his sleeve? Can Daniel and Johnny bury their decades-long hatchet to defeat Kreese? Or will Cobra Kai become the face of karate in the valley?

Where to start?  Well Cobra Kai Season 4 picks up from the final moments of Season 3, with the gauntlet laid down and the various dojos kicking into high gear as the tournament beckons.  If Season 3 was the “Karate Kid Part 2” season, many will se this as the “Karate Kid Part 3” one, which for the most part is unfair, because series creators  Josh Heald, Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg have mastered finding the balance between the throw backs to the original movies and moving the story on and making it something much more than just a nostalgia trip. In actual fact, this is a lot less like Karate Kid Part 3 than you think. Whereas Season 3 went back and closed some story arcs from Karate Kid Part 2, this one actually dramatically moves the storylines on, barely touching the surface of Part 3, especially character-wise.

The big event for Season 4 is the arrival of Terry Silver (Thomas Ian Griffith) and the chaos that will lead the valley into.  From his opening moments to where he finds himself at the finale, there has probably not been such a sinister character or terrifying as this in a series for several years.  Griffith really relishes playing Silver once more and with several years experience, gone are the campy tones from Karate Kid III and instead we find Terry Silver, brow beaten but with a huge chip on his shoulder, one that Daniel (Ralph Macchio) discovers he wished had been buried in the past.  Silver’s arrival brings with it some rather amusing explanations as Daniel has to get across the backstory and when you sit and relive the original movies through his explanation, the more ridiculous they seem, but in a lovingly edearing way.

William Zabka, once again is the true star of this series with some utterly hysterical moments.  Johnny still hasn’t caught up with the modern era and his attempts to keep up shows Zabka’s true comedic talent.  Pat Morita also looms large this time, with just a few shots of his photo on the wall, you realise what a loss he was.  Where Cobra Kai could have gone if he was still with us, one can only wonder, but without him the series still soars.  The rest of the regular cast have really found their feet with their characters now and they are as integral as Johnny and Daniel.  Mary Mouser’s Sam finds herself on a emotional complex journey.  Miguel (Xolo Mariduena) finds himself still dealing with the consequences of Season 2, Tory (Peyton List) character is being fully fleshed out and is becoming someone of a tragic character who you want to hug, however she’d probably kick your head off if you tried!  Jacob Bertrand and Gianni DeCenzo as Eli (Hawk) and Demitri respectively finally find purpose, but it’s Tanner Buchanan (Robby Keane) who is fast becoming the breakout star and the series MVP, with a performance beyond his young years that really makes you sit up and take notice whenever he’s involved.

Story wise, the series continues various themes, Kreese (Martin Kove) backstory, the members of the dojos balancing the fight for valley supremacy with their everyday school lives too.  Terry Silvers return of course, Daniel and Johnnys dynamic duo and Amanda Larusso (Courtney Henggeler) and Carmen (Vanessa Rubio) trying not to pull all their hair out as their lives are turned upside down once again, because everyone around them wants to punch and kick each other to bits.  So business as usual then.

Heald, Hurwitz & Schlossberg keep Season 4 ticking over at a ridiculous pace, the tempo is held throughout and with various unsuspecting surprises thrown in throughout, Cobra Kai will always keep you guessing.  When the next surprise pops up you’ll find yourself punching the air with unbridled joy.  Culminating at the tournament, Cobra Kai will leave you with questions and a genuine gasp come the end credits.  The path the series takes is not probably where you think it was going, but it’s all the better for it.  With some pleasing nods to the original source movies (A Crane kick is never to far away) and some incredible character development, Cobra Kai has plenty of life left in it yet.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Cobra Kai Season 4 is available on Netflix December 31st

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