The highly anticipated third season of Netflix’s Cobra Kai is nearly here, and the anticipation is building. While many fans were already excited about what lies ahead for Johnny Lawrence, Daniel LaRusso and their students, the official trailer only amped up the hype. One of the ways in which it did this is by revealing the returns of a few major characters from Karate Kid lore, including Daniel’s old rival from Okinawa – Chozen. It’s been over 30 years since the rivals last appeared on screen together, and both men have changed since then. To that point, Chozen actor Yuji Okumoto has shared a few thoughts regarding his character’s current mindset.
Once Cobra Kai became a hit, Chozen was one of several characters from the Karate Kid franchise that fans hoped to see again. Yuji Okumoto felt the same way and was delighted when the producers reached out to him last year. Given the cinematic history between Okumoto’s Chozen and Ralph Macchio’s Daniel, fans are expecting a lot from their reunion. Okumoto believes it will be satisfying but, based on his recent sentiments to EW, it may not pan out quite how fans think:
Chozen has gone through a lot of soul searching after losing his fight with Daniel. I think that he saw the light, and — this is just my take — I think through the dedication that he put into getting back into martial arts for the right reasons, I think he started to understand what the true meaning of martial arts is, and what the true meaning of honor is. So I think when people see the end scene between Chozen and Daniel, I think they will be satisfied with that closer. And who knows, beyond that. I’m kind of the last Miyagi-Do connection for Daniel’s character. There’s always that possibility for them to continue. I’m hoping.
Although it looks like Daniel and Chozen will come to blows when they meet in Cobra Kai, Yuji Okumoto appears to indicate that Chozen isn’t the person he was. The actor does point out that this is mostly his opinion, but there must be something within the story for him to believe that the antagonist has “seen the light.” What’s even more interesting is that he also believes there’s room for the character to return, though that’s not confirmed at the moment.
Okumoto knows Chozen better than most and admitted to the trade that he’s never forgotten about the character in the years since The Karate Kid Part II. He also recalled the interesting way in which he helped to develop the character:
Yeah, I mean, when you play such an iconic bad guy in a successful film, you kind of keep that memory always with you. You always wonder what happened to this character, where did he go after this all went down, where he lost his honor and all that stuff. I had written this whole long history when I first shot Karate Kid Part II. That’s what I like to do with all my characters.
If anything, we can assume that their meet-up in Okinawa won’t be all hugs, as it would appear that a rematch is in the cards. Luckily, Daniel will find some comfort during his visit through his reunion with former love Kumiko.
Cobra Kai has never avoided the shadow of The Karate Kid and, in Season 3, the past will definitely return in an exciting way. We’ll see how it pans out when the new episodes drop on Netflix on January 8, 2021.