‘The Karate Kid’ Actor Ralph Macchio Is Back with ‘Cobra Kai’

May 19, 2018

Everybody was Kung Fu fighting, those kicks were fast a lightning; in fact, it was a little bit frightening, but they fought with expert timing.–Carl Douglas

Thirty-four years ago, skinny little Daniel LaRusso stood up to the bullies of Cobra Kai Karate Academy and captured the affections of the prettiest girl in school. The rest, as they say, is history. 1984’s The Karate Kid championed the underdog and gave voice to generations of outcasts, misfits, and the impoverished, and they did it with a captivating story, sweet and engaging characters, as well as some kickass karate battles!

The comparatively small film with no real box-office stars and no special effects garnered an adjusted gross of close to $250 million worldwide! But all of that box-office mojo pales in comparison to the cultural impact of the little film that could. Daniel is a lonely, bullied kid from the wrong side of the tracks, and he’s raised by a single working-class mother who loves him to death but doesn’t have a lot of time for her put-upon son.

As a society, we are now much more aware of the negative, and sometimes tragic, effects of bullying in our schools and latchkey parenting in our neighborhoods. And the fact that Daniel is befriended by an elderly Asian American who fought in World War II gives us hope for a society which honors the elderly and celebrates diversity. The point is, this seemingly harmless adolescent film exhibited dramatic levels of realization that have resonated with audiences for decades.

Cut to 2018, and The Karate Kid is still kicking ass! But now it’s on this new-fangled gizmo called YouTube Red, the paid streaming subscription service which seeks to compete in the high-stakes game of exclusive original content. And if Cobra Kai is any indication, YouTube Red stock looks very promising. The first episode garnered over twenty million views, and to date, Cobra Kai is outperforming some of the most popular shows on Netflix and Hulu.

The 10-episode half-hour original series picks up 34 years after Daniel put the crane kick on Johnny’s chin and sent him into a decades-long downward spiral. And when Daniel hears that his old nemesis is reopening the Cobra Kai gym in the San Fernando Valley, Danny vows to stop the presses by any means necessary. It seems old rivalries die hard–and old movies die even harder!

The original The Karate Kid made Ralph Macchio a star, but his career didn’t necessarily take off like some of his generation–like Sean Penn, Matt Dillon, and Tom Cruise. In fact, Ralph infamously did a video for Funny or Die in which he couldn’t get work as an actor because he’s too nice and clean cut. The video is a bit bawdy but nonetheless hilarious; if you like dark humor, you should definitely check it out. When Jimmy Fallon recently asked Ralph why he chose to pursue Cobra Kai at this point in time, Ralph replied, “For 30 years, [‘The Karate Kid’ cast members] all said no. I was one of the last guys to come to the party. I always felt that keeping the legacy was the best thing as opposed to going back to the well and falling short.” But when he realized so many other of his fellow Karate Kid costars were agreeing to a reboot, he decided to reignite the rivalry.

So now Ralph is back with a vengeance! Cobra Kai is a huge hit by any standard, and YouTube has already ordered a second season of the long-shot series. In fact, executive producers Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg have said they are both “stunned” by the success of the web television show.