Netflix’s Cobra Kai has been one of the true surprise television series we’ve seen in our time. Part nostalgia, part sequel, and part comedy, the show has mined stories from the original movies in a way we really haven’t seen done before. And it’s totally worked. We’ve revisited the characters of Johnny (William Zabka) and Daniel (Ralph Macho) and had their narratives flipped from where they stood in the original set of films. And now, heading into the fourth season, it looks like the show will take more elements of the franchise. This time they are going to call back to stories from Karate Kid Part III which was easily the worst film of the original trilogy.
In an interview with Empire magazine (via slashfilm), series and original star Ralph Macchio discussed how this next season of Cobra Kai will shape up and what stories they are looking to tell this time around. We know from some early promotional pieces and casting announcements that Thomas Ian Griffith is returning to reprise his role of Terry Silver, something hinted towards at the end of Season 3. It will open up another aspect of the story, something the show has been building towards over some time. There have been hints that Martin Cove as John Kreese would call on his friend and former business partner for help in dealing with the Lawrence/ LaRusso pairing.
Ralph Macchio discussed what it meant to bring the character of Terry Silver back into the mix while also admitting that Karate Kid Part III was pretty much a bomb. He said, “There’s another angle to Terry Silver, and when you call upon those stories and dive into the grey areas, it expands the universe and the story. It’s this chance to take something that didn’t work, and try to make fruit out of it…” This is Macchio obviously understanding that the concept and execution in the third Karate Kid film just wasn’t there. He probably didn’t need to say it, the results were pretty obvious. It made just $39 million at the box office on its $12.5 million budget and critics weren’t kind either, putting it at just 13% on Rotten Tomatoes. By this point, the franchise had run its course. It was time to move on.
The comedically evil Terry Silver and Sean Kanan as Mike Barnes didn’t work in Karate Kid Part III because they weren’t being used as punchlines. They were supposed to be menacing threats to Ralph Macchio as Daniel LaRusso, but it came off campy and silly. Cobra Kai has embraced the unintentional comedy of the original franchise and used it to a crazy advantage in the story. Reintroducing Terry Silver and admitting the mistakes of the third movie are the perfect way to reset that storyline and really, make amends for what went wrong there. Silver, in an over-the-top evil role, plays much better for the Netflix series than it ever would have on the big screen in a “serious” movie.
Ralph Macchio and Cobra Kai are set to release their fourth season on New Year’s Eve, December 31st of this year. As with all Netflix series, the entire run will hit the streamer all at once. From early looks at this coming season, it appears another winning addition to the surprise franchise. Though Karate Kid Part III might have been a bomb of the highest order, this new series has more than made up for it. And now it will tackle the story and characters that went wrong in that final film.