The early reviews for Cobra Kai season 3 have arrived and they point to another exciting chapter in the Karate Kid sequel series. After airing the first two seasons on YouTube, Cobra Kai found a much bigger audience and future with Netflix. The first two seasons hit the world’s biggest streaming service earlier in 2020 and it immediately became one of the most popular pieces of content. This was great news for Netflix as they previously acquired the series for the upcoming season 3 launch and already renewed Cobra Kai for season 4.
Following the surprising events of the season 2 finale – which saw Miguel Diaz (Xolo Maridueña) hospitalized after his fight with Robby Keene (Tanner Buchanan) – Cobra Kai‘s fans have been eager to see where the story will go next. Johnny Lawrence (William Zapka) has lost control of Cobra Kai and Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) shut down Miyagi-Do after the school brawl. The trailers for season 3 have primarily teased Miguel’s recovery and Daniel’s journey to Okinawa, which will bring back some more characters from Karate Kid‘s past.
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Netflix lifted the review embargo on Cobra Kai season 3 today and the result was a flood of reviews that are mostly positive. Season 3 might not be the best Cobra Kai has ever been, but many reviewers note that it is a step up from season 2. Meanwhile, several others highlight more of the struggles that the series has in its junior season. Here are some excerpts from the reviews, with the full thoughts by each critic/outlet available by clicking the link provided.
Germain Lussier, io9
It’s hard to review a full ten episodes of a show without giving much away but in the end, the takeaway is this: After two seasons of great television we expect Cobra Kai to be good. Being “good” isn’t enough. It has to get better and better and season three does that. Sure, there are a few stumbles this season—such as the adults hogging the spotlight—but the entirety of the story is so enriching and entertaining, it still works toward bettering the whole. It was smart to focus the season in a new way and as a result, by the end, there’s plenty of more story to be told.
Sam Stone, CBR
Cobra Kai Season 3 manages to pull off the tricky feat of expanding the franchise’s world and digging deeper into its characters’ various backstories and personal dynamics while still delivering some top-notch martial arts fights. And with franchise creator Robert Mark Kamen now part of the writing staff (he penned the last two episodes of the season), Cobra Kai continues to feel true to its ’80s-movie roots without treading water on its own nostalgia or repeatedly hitting the same beats. With the stakes higher than ever, Cobra Kai Season 3 will leave fans ready and waiting eagerly for the fight to continue in an eventual fourth season.
Owen S. Good, Polygon
Heading into Cobra Kai season 3, I worried that the mess made in season 2 was setting us up for a serviceable mop up, and little more. I was especially troubled by the teases for Daniel’s Japan visit, thinking we would be getting more nostalgia sizzle than narrative steak. But season 3 still has plenty of substance; it got me to care again, about what has happened and what will happen to these people, rather than regret the previous 10 episodes as a tale that didn’t need telling. That’s a hell of a good comeback, but then, we expect no less of The Karate Kid.
Rafael Motamayor, Slashfilm
In an age of reboots and sequels, Cobra Kai continues to make the case that there are still ways to recycle 40-year-old characters and stories and make them feel fresh, timely, and necessary. Season 3 examines the importance of teachers, and how much they impact the lives of their students even decades later, all while teasing an action-packed fourth season that might make fans of Karate Kid Part III very happy.
Alex McLevy, AV Club
But whenever the show gets back to basics, focusing on the dynamics and interplay between its leads, it once again sparkles as the scruffy, off-kilter and minor cringe comedy it began life as. It’s no spoiler to reveal that Miguel wakes up (jesus, what a dark show this would be if he didn’t), and the comic-foil chemistry between Maridueña and Zabka is once more the best thing about the series. (Zabka, in particular, embodies the show’s sharp past-your-prime humor: There’s a scene where we watch Johnny brainstorming ways to help Miguel walk again, and the list he’s written down includes “Hypnosis, acupuncture, Tony Robbins, LSD”.) Macchio and Zabka have a similarly good affinity for knowing how to enliven their scenes together, and any time the two of them are both on screen, it feels like Cobra Kai is living up to its potential.
Darren Franich, EW
Cobra Kai is, like, ¼ teen soap opera, ¼ martial arts epic, ¼ totally profound Richard Linklater-ification of a cheesebox ‘80s franchise, and ¼ underdog sports drama. It is also, frequently, a self-aware comedy about its own impossible existence. That’s a tricky balance, which creators Josh Heald, Jon Hurwitz, and Hayden Schlossberg nailed right out the gate. The mix is off here. Maridueña is very charming, and does his best with material that seems to demand a medical miracle. Buchanan is rather blank, a problem now that he has to act angry at everyone all the time. There is swirling melodrama around feuding car dealerships. Runtimes average three minutes longer than season 1. I assume viewers will consume these episodes in a weekend (if not one night), so the early issues won’t linger long. And there are nifty fights in a chop shop and a laser tag arena.
Alan Sepinwall, Rolling Stone
It’s not surprising, though, that Johnny and Daniel’s stories have more depth. They’ve been around longer, the actors are more seasoned, and the audience and creators have more investment in them. (By far the strongest Miguel scene of the season, for instance, is a long-overdue conversation where he and Daniel realize how much they have in common, but it’s effective almost entirely because of our decades-old movie memories.) But they can’t carry a show that’s increasingly goofy everywhere else. “Sometimes,” an old friend of Johnny’s suggests at one point, “it’s good to visit the past, to know where you are now. But you can’t live in the past.” Earlier in its run, Cobra Kai was able to live equally well in the past and the present. Not anymore, unfortunately.
For the most part, the early reviews for Cobra Kai season 3 point to another enjoyable entry in the Karate Kid universe. It sounds like Zapka and Macchio continue to be the highlights of the show. The enjoyment of their storylines seems to go a long way with viewers, as the positive and negative responses to season 3 point to the kids taking a back seat. That is unfortunate considering how large of roles they had in the past, but it appears CobraKai season 2’s ending put the show in a bit of a corner, especially with Robby and Miguel.
These mostly positive reviews for Cobra Kai season 3 should only increase excitement in seeing how the story unfolds. Netflix recently announced that the CobraKai’s release date was moved up, meaning all 10 episodes will be available to watch on January 1, 2021. As Cobra Kai will now help usher in a brand new year, hopefully, it will deliver and help kick off 2021 in style.
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