April 19, 2019
‘The Karate Kid’ Gets the ’30 for 30′ Documentary Treatment by ESPN
The Karate Kid is one of the most beloved sports movies of all time, and like many properties from the 1980s, it made a modern comeback in the form of a new television series. Cobra Kai follows the exploits of a grown-up Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) and Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka), who still have some bitterness between each other after their famed karate tournament match-up in the 1984 film. But for those of you who may not be as familiar with the drama and tension of this rivalry, ESPN has given the 1984 All-Valley Karate Championships a 30 for 30 documentary short.
The Karate Kid 30 for 30 Documentary
ESPN brings in some of the sports network’s familiar commentators like Ryan Smith, Nicole Briscoe, Steve Levy, Randy Scott, and Chris Cotter all provide color commentary. Ralph Macchio and William Zabka also appears in-character as Daniel LaRusso and William Zabka, each reliving the finals of that karate tournament that would shape the rest of their lives.
They’re joined by the next generation of Karate Kids from Cobra Kai, played by Mary Mouser and Xolo Maridueña, as well as Martin Kove as John Kreese. And second season newcomer Paul Walter Hauser also makes an appearance as some kind of Johnny Lawrence superfan. Meanwhile, Cobra Kai creators and executive producers Hayden Schlossberg, Josh Heald, and Jon Hurwitz appear as historians of the karate match.
This is a clever way to promote the upcoming season of Cobra Kai, especially with the promise of a proper rematch between Daniel and Johnny teased at the end. Honestly, I could watch an entire series of 30 for 30 documentary shorts on the sports movies of the 1980s and 1990s.
The second season of Cobra Kai will have some stiff competition after it hits YouTube next week. Avengers: Endgame arrives in theaters the next evening, and that’s something fans will be hitting up all weekend. But at least you’ll have one full day to binge every episode before then. Plus, if our review from SXSW is any indicator, this new season will continue to be surprisingly satisfying, proving itself as more than a novelty:
Cobra Kai achieves a remarkable tone, because this is, on the surface, a pretty silly concept for a show (based on a pretty silly concept for a movie), and the series never shies away from laughing at itself, but it also never feels like full-blown winking snark, either. The show continues to flash back to crucial moments from the film series, but these allusions never feel panhandling or arbitrary – they always fit in thematically, emotionally, and tonally to whatever’s happening onscreen at the moment.
Cobra Kai season two hits YouTube Premium starting on April 24, 2019. Watch the latest trailer here.
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