YouTube Premium series Cobra Kai is making the jump to Netflix this month – with all 20 episodes of the series becoming available to stream on the platform and a further season set to launch at a later date.
The show is a sequel to the Karate Kid film series, picking up 34 years after the events of the original movie and telling a story from the perspective of the movies’ antagonist – Johnny Lawrence.
So if you’re needing a refresher about the original films before you dive into the follow up series, we’ve got you covered – read on to find out what happened in the films and how the series follows on from them.
What happened in the Karate Kid movies?
In total there have been five Karate Kid movies – but only the first three are particularly tied this series, with 1994’s The Next Karate Kid and 2010’s The Karate Kid largely following other characters.
Read on for a brief summary of the events of each of the first three movies – and note that the plot of the first film is particularly relevant to the series.
The Karate Kid (1984)
The first film in the franchise introduces us to Daniel LaRusso who has just moved with his mother to Reseda, Los Angeles in time for the start of a new school year.
He soon becomes friends with Ali Mills, a classmate – which sees him make an enemy of her ex, Johnny Lawrence – who happens to be the star pupil of the “Cobra Kai” dojo.
Daniel gets beaten up by Johnny’s Cobra Kai cronies after school, but soon discovers that the handyman at his new apartment complex, Mr. Miyagi, is a master of karate and so trains to compete at the All-Valley Karate Tournament, having come to an arrangement with Johnny’s sensei John Kreese to end the fighting.
At the All-Valley Karate Tournament, Daniel surprises everyone to reach the semi-finals – with Johnny having advanced to the final.
During his semi-final fight, at the behest of John Kreese, Daniel’s opponent Bobby Brown disables Daniel with an illegal attack to the knee, severely injuring him such that it looks like he will be unable to continue.
But not to be defeated, Daniel continues after convincing Miyagi to use a pain suppression technique and fights Johnny in a close final.
With the score tied, Johnny is instructed by Kreese to unethically sweep Daniel’s injured leg – but as he does so Daniel executes a front kick to his face, winning the tournament – and earning the respect of his nemesis in the process.
The Karate Kid Part II (1986)
The second instalment followed two years later, with the events taking place directly after the All-Valley Karate Tournament – where Johnny Lawrence is attacked by John Kreese, who is furious at his failure to win.
Before too much damage can be done Mr. Miyagi intervenes and despatches Kreese with ease, rescuing Johnny – who decided to leave Cobra Kai in protest at his sensei’s behaviour.
We then fast forwards six months, at which point Miyagi receives a letter informing him about his father’s ill health – which prompts him to head home to his home village on Okinawa Island, bringing Daniel along with him.
Here, Migayi comes into contact with an old rival, Sato and his corrupt nephew Chozen. Sato is desperate to arrange a fight with Migayi – and eventually shows up at the family property, threatening to destroy the village unless Miyagi fights him.
Miyagi agrees, but on the night of the fight a typhoon hits and Miyagi and Daniel are forced to rescue Sato – who gets trapped when his family’s dojo is levelled by the storm. Sato then helps Daniel to rescue a child after Chozen had refused to help.
The following day Sato arrives to help rebuild the village, and begs for Miyagi’s forgiveness, with the pair then hosting upcoming O-bon festival.
At this festival a vengeful Chozen returns to fight Daniel to the death, but with help from Miyagi and Sato’s inspiration – and the use of Miyagi’s secret drum technique – Daniel wins, but chooses to spare his opponent’s life.
The Karate Kid Part III (1989)
The third film also takes place six months after the 1984 All-Valley Karate Tournament, following a down-and-out John Kreese – who at the start of his film visits a Vietnam War buddy – a rich businessman by the name of Terry Silver.
Silver sends Kreese on vacation to Tahiti and vows to re-establish the Cobra Kai dojo – getting revenge on Daniel and Mr. Miyagi in the process.
Daniel and Miyagi return home from Okinawa and discover that Daniel’s apartment building is being demolished – with his mother having moved back to their old home in New Jersey to take care of a sick relative.
Daniel accepts an invitation from Miyagi to stay with him, but decides that he will not defend his title at the All-Valley Karate Tournament, instead helping his sensei to fulfil his dream of opening a bonsai shop.
Meanwhile after being approached by Terry Silver, Mike Barnes – a karate prospect nicknamed “Karate’s Badboy” – is desperate for Daniel to compete again, with the pair eventually forcing him to apply for the tournament after stealing the supply of Bonsai trees.
Silver offers to train Daniel for the tournament at the Cobra Kai dojo, making fun of Miyagi’s kata forms and adopting a much more vicious approach which leaves Daniel alienated from Miyagi.
Eventually, after an incident at a nightclub, Daniel has a change of heart and visits Silver to inform him that he will not compete, at which point Silver reveals his true agenda – and although Daniel tries to leave, Kreese shows up and intercepts him.
Barnes viciously attacks Daniel but Miyagi intervenes and easily defeats Kreese, Silver, and Barnes, eventually agreeing to train Daniel for the tournament – which eventually sees Daniel face Barnes in the final.
After a brutal fight, Daniel performs the kata in the sudden death round, flipping him to the ground and striking him to win the tournament.
How does Cobra Kai follow on from the Karate Kid movies?
The new series is set in the present day – 34 years after the events of the first film, and is told from the perspective of Johnny Lawrence who has fallen from his previous wealthy lifestyle and decides to reopen the Cobra Kai karate dojo after losing his job in construction.
This leads to a renewal of his rivalry with Daniel LaRusso, who is now the owner of a highly successful car dealership and a dad to two kids, living the wealthy lifestyle he had always wanted.
Things aren’t all good for Daniel though – Mr Miyagi’s death has disrupted the balance in his life and he struggles to connect with his children.
Johnny’s reopened dojo sees bullied social outcasts find camaraderie and self-confidence – taking a very different approach to the original Cobra Kai run by the tyrannical John Kreese, while Johnny strikes up a mentor relationship with his best student, Miguel.
Cobra Kai seasons 1-2 will be available on Netflix from Friday 28th August 2020. Looking for something else to watch? Check out our guide to the best TV series on Netflix and best movies on Netflix, or visit our TV Guide.