When YouTube once announced an original streaming series for their YouTube Red (now YouTube Premium) that was a distant sequel to the “Karate Kid” film franchise, streamers scratched their heads. But the first two seasons of “Cobra Kai” on that platform (2018-19) were highly regarded, especially as major stars from the original movies reprised their leading roles, portraying their now-adult characters still shackled to their teenaged animosity and their opposing karate philosophies. “Cobra Kai” season 3, produced last year under Netflix and released early this month, was even more praised by viewers for how it seamlessly integrated other supporting characters from the film trilogy, all with their original portraying actors.
It is clear that the “Cobra Kai” production posse, led by show-runner John Hurwitz, Josh Heald and Hayden Schlossberg, has been crafting the series as a love letter to the “Karate Kid” franchise. Even entries beyond the trilogy such as 1997’s “The Next Karate Kid” with Hillary Swank are being considered for inclusion. But what of the 2010 “Karate Kid” that starred Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan, and also featured Kung Fu instead of karate? SlashFilm would have it from Jon Hurwitz that this movie, even if not “canon” to the show, can still be part of its larger universe.
In a phone interview last week, Hurwitz and his co-show-runners discussed the recent streaming release of “Cobra Kai” season 3. One of the questions SlashFilm had was regarding a Twitter post by Hurwitz debunking any canon connection between the “Karate Kid” films featuring Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita, and the 2010 movie with the Jaden-Jackie student-master tandem. Hurwitz however added that, since Jackie Chan was mentioned by name in “Cobra Kai” season 1 as an actor, there’s a possibility that, if the “Karate Kid/Cobra Kai” characters are aware of an in-universe film titled “Karate Kid,” then that would be it.
Released in 2010 by Sony-Columbia pictures as a franchise reboot, “Karate Kid” saw Jaden Smith as a Detroit teenager who moves with his mother to Beijing, China for her new job. There, his stumbling interactions with his new classmates in a Chinese high school make him a bullying target by students who practice Kung Fu under an aggressive, violent instructor. Thus steps in Jackie Chan, whose handyman character belies a mastery of Kung Fu in a truer sense. Essentially it was a rehash of the dynamic between Macchio/Daniel-san and Morita/Mr. Miyagi, but also doubling as a 2000’s China tourism promo.
Netflix acquired “Cobra Kai” from YouTube in 2020, and its first two seasons are now viewable there along with season 3 which premiered on January 1, 2021. A fourth season has also been announced to come possibly next year. The show stars William Zabka, Ralph Macchio, Xolo Maridueña, Mary Mouser, Tanner Buchanan and Martin Kove.
Image from Comic Book Resources