Netflix’s hugely popular original series Cobra Kai is known for paying homage to its ’80s roots, with multiple allusions to the original Karate Kid movie franchise. Some of these nods are pretty overt, such as the inclusion of footage in the form of flashbacks, while others are a little more subtle.
In a new YouTube video, Paul from the Heavy Spoilers channel breaks down no fewer than 75 winks, nods and nudges in the third season of the show, which began streaming on Netflix on January 1. We’ve cherry-picked our faves here—check out the video below for the full rundown. And beware: mild spoilers follow!
Take the moment in the season premiere when Johnny punches through a car window while starting a fight with two dudes he met in a bar. This is a callback to a scene in The Karate Kid Part II when John Kreese does exactly the same thing while facing off against Mr Miyagi. Placing this right at the start of the season is a good way to highlight the similarities between Johnny and his old sensei, as he tries to figure out his path forward.
One pretty direct homage is the skeleton hoodie worn by Tory in the climactic fight scene at the LaRusso house towards the end of the season. This is a reference to a reference, as skeletons have long been a Cobra Kai staple; Johnny and his friends wore skeleton costumes to a party in the first movie, and then Miguel wore one to the Halloween dance in Season 1 of the show.
The show’s set design has also been heavily influenced by these well-established character histories; when Daniel LaRusso visits Cobra Kai at the strip-mall, he sees the words “fear does not exist in this dojo” stencilled on the walls: this was a favorite saying of John Kreese in the original movies, and he has now made it an official part of his dojo’s branding.
We also got an origin story for Mr Miyagi’s car, something which fans hadn’t really been pining for but was satisfying nonetheless; in the flashbacks which filled us in on John Kreese’s traumatic backstory, we see a group of jocks rolling up to a diner in the 1950s in said automobile, with the driver saying it’s a “piece of junk” which he’s going to replace—and we all know where it ended up.
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