Cobra Kai season 5 review – this nostalgic series just about delivers

September 6, 2022
Adam Lock 0
Netflix, Streaming Service, TV Reviews
3.5

Summary

The fifth season is packed full of silly, ridiculous fun and some inventive fight sequences, but the 80s satire and this ironic, self-parodying style are starting to wear a little thin now.

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3.5

Summary

The fifth season is packed full of silly, ridiculous fun and some inventive fight sequences, but the 80s satire and this ironic, self-parodying style are starting to wear a little thin now.

This review of the Netflix series Cobra Kai season 5 does not contain any major spoilers.

ACCESS: the archive of reviews, news, and features for Cobra Kai.

Cobra Kai is a continuation of The Karate Kid film franchise, bringing the cast of characters from the original Miyagi-verse over to the small screen. It’s a nostalgic jaunt that allows old characters a chance to return and for those with smaller roles an opportunity to stretch their acting chops. The series on the whole feels rather nostalgic and at times very tongue-in-cheek in its delivery.

This guilty pleasures style of filmmaking has clearly worked wonders though, charming viewers and critics alike. The show has become a formidable hit for Netflix, since they acquired the rights back in 2020. The fifth season continues this undefeated, winning streak, with the ever-present rivalry between Daniel LaRusso’s Miyagi-Do Karate and the evil Terry Silver’s Cobra Kai, but who will end up on top?

The series starts with the Cobra Kai dojo capitalizing on their victory in the All Valley tournament last season, as Terry starts to expand the business and grow his empire further. Cobra Kai are opening more dojos, taking out their competitors, advertising on the TV and shamelessly recruiting students from all over the local area. Rival sensei, Daniel LaRusso, is worried that Terry Silver’s ‘No Mercy’ style of karate will brainwash the youth and create monsters out of these impressionable kids. He brings in Japanese Sensei Chozen to help stop his nemesis from dominating the karate landscape.

Daniel and Chozen are ill-prepared and seriously outnumbered though, with their attempts to sabotage Terry’s master plan failing miserably at every turn. They can’t even persuade ally Johnny Lawrence to return. Johnny’s got his own problems to deal with and has taken on a new job as a taxi driver to counteract these issues, yet his customer service leaves a lot to be desired. Daniel’s plot to take down Terry seems fraught and he decides to close his dojo after the defeat.

This rivalry disrupts the teenage students as much as the adults, leading to much bullying and bloodshed. Something needs to be done to stop Terry Silver and his unstoppable business plan.

As always, Cobra Kai includes well-choreographed and inventive fight sequences, providing just the right balance of silly fun and serious drama, for the most part. There’s invigorating and uplifting moments throughout as the typical underdog story goes through its standard highs and lows. Season five is clearly working towards something big and the hotly anticipated finale really doesn’t disappoint. Those that are on the fence with the first few episodes will not regret sticking around for that action-packed ending.

Yet for all its pluses, the show walks a very fine line between presenting itself as a bit of harmless fun all the way to self-parody. For every exhilarating fight sequence there are a handful of repetitive and predictable ones. The rivalry itself can seem painfully insignificant and over-the-top at times, and it’s almost laughable how the stakes sway from one extreme to the other.

Not all of the jokes work either and the acting can be terribly melodramatic, with two-dimensional heroes and villains on display. But maybe that is the point. The show feels like it might be aiming towards satire or playing into this style of ironic, soap opera filmmaking that the original movies are famous for. Either way, there is plenty to enjoy from this well-meaning throwback.

What did you think of the Netflix series Cobra Kai season 5? Comment below.

You can watch this series with a subscription to Netflix.

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