It’s been almost 40 years since Ralph Macchio and Mr. Miyagi (the late Pat Morita) brought the world of martial arts to life in the classic movie The Karate Kid. A lot of things have changed in the franchise since its early beginnings in 1984.
Since that time, there have been several sequels and attempts at bringing back the iconic story. It wasn’t until 2018 that Macchio agreed to continue the tale, seeing it this time through the eyes of long-time opponent Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka).
This new perspective proved successful for the television series Cobra Kai, which is getting ready to enter its third season on Netflix. Fans of the series were thrilled to discover a hard-to-find Easter Egg last season. It gave a subtle nod to The Karate Kid movie, paying homage to one of the original characters.
The karate tournament that started it all
The Netflix series Cobra Kai, which originally aired on YouTube Red, has attracted a new generation of fans unfamiliar with the ’80s film.
Macchio’s character, Daniel LaRusso, returns to the series as a grown version of himself. He is anxious to teach karate to the next generation of students. Now a successful car dealer, he must again confront his arch-rival.
Those familiar with The Karate Kid movies will remember Lawrence as the mean-spirited opponent LaRusso took down in the 1984 All-Valley Karate Tournament. Fast-forward to Cobra Kai, and Lawrence returns as a washed-up handyman looking for redemption by re-establishing the practices of his martial arts dojo. He also wants to bring martial arts to the next generation, using principles learned from his past.
Both men are the original actors that have portrayed the multi-faceted characters throughout The Karate Kid franchise history.
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Cobra Kai uses several flashback sequences to the fated tournament, even utilizing some never-before-seen footage from the original film. The classic 1947 Ford Super Deluxe car that Daniel-Son learned to wax on and wax off even makes a cameo in the new series.
While the nostalgia factor is there with Macchio reprising his role as The Karate Kid, there is no doubt that Zabka draws the most attention in the Cobra Kai series.
Over the past several decades, fans have learned all they need to know about LaRusso through three onscreen films. According to Men’s Health, viewers are intrigued to discover more about Lawrence’s role in the karate universe. The magazine noted, “Zabka’s performance as Johnny, here, is humanizing, hilarious, and charming all at the same time.”
Despite seeing Lawrence in The Karate Kid and The Karate Kid Part II films, fans never saw his character develop past being a competitor to LaRusso. Seeing the world through his eyes is a refreshing take on the storyline. Audiences are loving the series, as evidenced by the successful ratings.
Another Cobra Kai actor reprising his original role is 74-year-old Martin Kove, who played Lawrence’s tough as nails coach John Kreese in all three films.
A cleverly hidden Easter Egg appeared in Season Two
In the original Karate Kid movie, when LaRusso moves into the California apartment complex, he befriends Freddy Fernandez (Israel Juarbe). At the time, he was wearing a now-infamous “Makin’ Bacon” t-shirt.
In 2018, Juarbe opened up an Etsy shop and started selling autographed replicas of his well-known shirt.
Mental Floss was quick to notice a hidden Easter Egg in Season 2 of Cobra Kai relating to the “Makin’ Bacon” shirt. In the seventh episode, LaRusso goes to a refrigerated meat locker to train his new students. The boxes on the shelves have labels for Fernandez Meat Company.
This Easter Egg is a slick tribute to the original character’s timeless shirt. It appears that after all these years, Fernandez is still Makin’ Bacon.