Cobra Kai gave me courage to watch the original movie

Whenever I watch a movie that includes an Asian character anytime before the 2000s, I get a little anxious. It’s been a long road to Asian representation in media and entertainment, but sometimes looking back can hurt. Sweetheart movies like sixteen candles And the Breakfast at Tiffany’s Leave a stinging taste in my mouth, not because I couldn’t fathom the suffering of a very American Sam girl as a teenager or because I wasn’t fascinated by Holly Golightly’s eccentricities, but because those movies contained caricatures of people like me. They have turned Asian faces into the back of the joke. This has always been my fear and why I avoided the Karate Kid. The idea of ​​a wise, expert Japanese man teaching karate to a white kid from New Jersey was something I immediately thought of: Nope, I’m going to pass on the nostalgia slice.

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I don’t think I was fair, considering I hadn’t actually seen the movie. But I was tired of feeling angry and a little ashamed when I saw those representations, and I didn’t want to be disappointed again.

Cobra Kai turned things around for me

But then, I started watching Cobra Kai. Partly because my job was to stay up-to-date with popular shows, but also because I was curious. The series started on YouTube Red before Netflix got it, had the original cast members from the movies, and seemed to be very well liked by audiences. On top of that, I didn’t think I would find any racism or racist sentiments from a series created in 2018. So I started watching it.

Related: Here’s how to watch the ‘The Karate Kid’ franchise in order (in chronological order and by release date)

It is fair to say that the characters of the series were instantly enchanted. From Ralph MacchioDaniel Larseau for William ZabkaJohnny Lawrence, two characters I was only familiar with through the osmosis of pop culture, to the new kids in the building like Xolo MaridueñaMiguel Diaz, Tanner BuchananRobbie Keane, and Marie VosserSamantha Larseau.

The show, fortunately, filled in some gaps in my knowledge when it came to what happened in the movies. But, playing those flashbacks of the movie made me realize that the movie wasn’t actually as bad as I had imagined. play Mr. Miyagi Pat MoritaHe had a strong Japanese accent, but his words were touching, Daniel was respectful, and he was never the character we laughed at. He didn’t seem like a joke, and often represented the character of the loving and protective father of our hero. So after watching the series on Netflix and talking about it at work voraciously, I decided to give the Karate Kid Shot.

Mr. Miyagi was the outstanding character

It was amazing what stood out to me from the perspective of someone who saw it all Cobra Kai. Scenes with Daniel and Ali (Elizabeth ShawIt felt like filler, it was nice but with no result. Meanwhile, the heart of the movie was about Daniel and Mr. Miyagi. Even Johnny, who plays a large part on the show, felt like he was a very small part of the movie.

When I saw Morita playing Miyagi, I could see firsthand how Daniel was influenced and inspired by him. His lessons went beyond just teaching karate, they were life lessons. Sometimes he was strict and serious, but he was also warm and caring. He was a man who suffered a lot but who managed to be an honest and respectable man. My fears that Miyagi would fall into the stereotype of a typical minority, meek and soft-spoken, were tempered in the way he defends not only himself but also the way he defends Daniel.

The way the film slowly develops the bond between Miyagi, a man who has lost his wife and child, with Daniel, the child without a father, is very rewarding to watch. Macchio and Morita have great chemistry in their scenes together, with Miyagi slowly transforming from a teacher character to a father character. As Daniel learns more about Miyagi, finding out one night that Miyagi’s wife died in childbirth in the Manzanar concentration camp while fighting in World War II in Europe, he begins to see his mentor differently.

These moments look at Miyagi’s life not as a teacher or mentor to Daniel, but as an Asian American man struggling with past trauma and his own identity. This is the man who fought for a country that put American citizens in concentration camps and viewed them as enemies, lost everything, and managed to hold it together. He was different, he spent his life grieving, seeing in Daniel the son he had never had before. It’s amazing how it all translates into the middle of a movie that, ostensibly, is about a kid moving to a new city dealing with girls and a bully.

“Karate Boy” puts a whole franchise on strong storytelling

I say all this not because that was the only thing that stood out to me in the movie, but because those were the scenes that drew me in at the end. I obviously loved the music and the karate scenes, especially the finale at the All-Valley Championships. But also knowing where the road will end thanks Cobra KaiIt made me less wary about exploring the journey that led to it. Knowing that an older Daniel inherits and still honors Miyagi’s view of life and teaching style, and knowing that his family sees him as part of the family, knowing Miyagi even of a toxic child gave me the comfort I struggled to find elsewhere.

Watching the show for the first time offered an unexpected insight. starting from Cobra Kai, it was all too easy to sympathize with Johnny, who, as an adult, is washed up, kind of pathetic, trapped in the past, and just trying to go on day in and day out. Discovering that his actions at All-Valley eventually ruined his life makes the scene where we see him get swept off his leg. the Karate Kid This is more tragic. Coming into the movie without that knowledge, Johnny appears to be just a bully with some serious issues. He doesn’t actually have many scenes where his character is being examined. Although the few scenes we get of him at All-Valley do show the glimmer of the man who would become. Not a really bad person but misled by a man who was also wrecked by war.

the Karate Kid It is ultimately a story meant to inspire, it is an underdog tale. On its own, it’s entertaining and funky at times, but combined with the larger scheme of things and Cobra Kai It creates a breed of powerful storytelling that is more than just showing off your cool karate moves.

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