Why The Karate Kid And Cobra Kai Still Work Today, According To Ralph Macchio

Ralph Macchio Daniel Cobra Kai YouTube Premium

The Karate Kid franchise's TV follow-up Cobra Kai has been a big hit for YouTube, and while it's not hard to understand after watching through Season 1, the overall mass appeal for the years-dormant saga has been a bit of a mystery. After all, not all revivals of '80s franchises have been so successful. Yet YouTube's numbers showed there was little question from the start that Cobra Kai was going to do well with viewers.

For some insight into Cobra Kai's success and why audiences are flocking back to The Karate Kid's characters decades later, CinemaBlend's Sean O'Connell spoke to Daniel LaRusso himself, Ralph Macchio, at this year's SXSW and got the star's thoughts on the phenomena.

It's a great story. And it works on a human level. I always say that it has all the pop culture-y stuff and the weird ‘80s hair and wardrobe here and there. But the themes are [vital], and the themes are the same themes that we deal with in Cobra Kai. We just get to expand on them. We expand on the universe and the world and, you know, the gray areas of these characters.

For all the fads and fashions that may have gone out of style since The Karate Kid was first released in theaters, Ralph Macchio maintains the core themes and story of The Karate Kid universe keep fans engaged with each turn of the leaf for Daniel, Johnny and the rest. It's hard to dispute that logic, too. Is there anyone who truly doesn't like an underdog story, or watching a believably redemptive arc for a villainous character?

Ralph Macchio also noted how Cobra Kai expands on the universe established by The Karate Kid, giving anyone who enjoyed the movie a lot more to chew on all these years later. The YouTube series is certainly geared towards a more mature audience, and few would dispute it was a smarter move to make Cobra Kai more R-rated than a family friendly PG romp. It's geared towards the adults who grew up with the films, but definitely has much appeal for those who didn't.

Ralph Macchio's Daniel is definitely back for Season 2 of Cobra Kai, which promises to escalate the drama while further building on the mythos of the karate drama's central rivalry. Johnny's (William Zabka) old trainer Kreese is back, which is pretty awful timing considering how guilty Johnny feels due to the results of the tournament. Meanwhile Daniel is getting into the dojo game, and he's got his daughter Sam back in the sport and presumably ready to kick some ass in the upcoming episodes.

Will Johnny stand up to his old instructor, or will he fold and ride the wave the Cobra Kai gym is coasting on now that it's back in the limelight? That decision that will surely have him ultimately choosing between success and his son Robby, who ended up losing to Johnny's pupil Miguel. It's just one of the exciting story lines to look forward to in Season 2, which should have a lot going on from start to finish.

Cobra Kai Season 2 arrives on YouTube Premium Wednesday, April 24. Stick with CinemaBlend for more updates and exclusives on the series going forward, as well as other news related to television and movies.

Mick Joest
Content Producer

Mick contains multitudes and balances his time reporting on big happenings in the world of Star Trek, the WWE, reality television, and other sci-fi shows.