A Karate Kid Revival Series Is Coming to YouTube Red

Ralph Macchio and William Zabka reunite for the sequel

Ralph Macchio and William Zabka will reunite for the new series on the subscription streaming service.
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TV’s reboot and revival trend is continuing at an unlikely outlet: YouTube Red, which is bringing back the stars of the 1984 movie The Karate Kid for a new series set 30 years later.

Ralph Macchio, who played Daniel LaRusso in the ‘80s franchise, will reunite with William Zabka, who played nemesis Johnny Lawrence, for Cobra Kai, which will air on the subscription streaming service next year.

The 10-episode, half-hour series is set 30 years after the 1984 All Valley Karate Tournament, in which Macchio’s LaRusso stunned Zabka’s Lawrence with a “crane” kick to win the trophy after his unconventional training from Mr. Miyagi (played by Pat Morita, who died in 2005). Lawrence, now down on his luck, reopens the Cobra Kai karate dojo and starts up a new rivalry with LaRusso.

Susanne Daniels, global head of content, YouTube, announced the new project at the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour in L.A., calling it “an unprecedented rematch over 30 years in the making.”

She introduced Macchio and Zabka, in dramatic, over-the-top style, and the actors briefly faced off on stage in character. Zabka said that Macchio was the tournament victor only “because you won with an illegal kick.” Macchio’s retort: “It was legal enough that they gave me a trophy!”

Daniels promised that the actors would return to the stage later to take questions from reporters, but that never occurred.

The series will be “packed with comedy, heart and thrilling fight scenes,” said Daniels. “We are so excited to reignite this famous rivalry, and finally give Johnny Lawrence his shot at redemption.”

The exec said that Cobra Kai was “part of an evolving strategy” for YouTube Red, as it broadens its subscription base to a wider, 18-49 demo. “I don’t know anyone who doesn’t know Karate Kid.”

The 1984 film also spawned sequels in 1986 and 1989. Hilary Swank played The Next Karate Kid in 1994, while a 2010 reboot starred Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan.