Cobra Kai Season 5: Is it a Knock-Out?

A (Spoiler Free) Review Of Cobra Kai Season 5. Is the latest installment of this Netflix phenomenon a success?


photo courtesy of Netflix

Cobra Kai season 5 dropped on Netflix September 8th 2022.

Brady Crow, Staff Writer

If you’re an avid Netflix watcher, (as almost everyone is nowadays), there’s a good chance you’ve seen or heard about Cobra Kai.  The hit drama/comedy/action series kicked its way onto screens in 2018. Cobra Kai is a Karate Kid spinoff series that focuses on the infamous Cobra Kai karate dojo and its reintroduction into modern day society. The wildly popular show has had four critically acclaimed seasons, with its fifth just released. 

For the most part, Cobra Kai Season 5 is a hit.  The story reaches an intense climax, with some electrifying action scenes throughout.  The plot is similar to other seasons, but it remains captivating for both new and old viewers.

In this season of Cobra Kai, our protagonists, Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) and Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio), rally their students against Cobra Kai’s sensei, Terry Silver (Thomas Ian Griffith).  Silver is a compelling antagonist, with cunning plans, displaying fearsome acts of intimidation throughout the series. 

Meanwhile, LaRusso and Lawrence’s students settle their differences and unite under the common goal of taking Cobra Kai down.  In previous seasons, the students took the spotlight, the story focusing on their training and relationships.  To the contrary in Season 5, it focuses more on the senseis.

Cobra Kai has always been a character-centric show.  Some characters this season stand out much more than others.  New character, Chozen Toguchi (Yuji Okumoto), who offers charming and witty comic relief, will surely become a fan favorite. Returning characters, John Kreese (Martin Kove), and Tory Nichols (Peyton List)  shine in the latter half of the season, undergoing much needed character development. 

The show’s fifth season is, for the most part, a great addition to the Cobra Kai series, and it is binge-worthy.  However, that’s not to say it is without flaws. The new season suffers from shameless product placement.  There are some scenes that seem more like commercials than a series continuation. 

Notable examples of product placement this season include mentions of Fortnite, PlayStation, Simply Orange, Champions, Vans, and other recognizable brands.  While seemingly harmless, the commercialism this season often undercuts serious, triumphant, and otherwise intense moments.

For example, in one episode, Johnny Lawrence attempts to end the bitter rivalry between his son, Robby Keen (Tanner Buchanan), and star student Miguel Diaz (Xolo Maridueña). Lawrence takes the two to an Olive Garden restaurant in order to settle their differences, but instead the waiter begins to list various meals ad nauseum for them to try.  At the end of the episode, the characters even rave about how delicious Olive Garden’s breadsticks are. Shameless. 

The other most notable flaw this season is the overly dramatic conflicts between characters. While the Cobra Kai series has become synonymous with an 80’s movie style of overacting (akin to that of its predecessor, Karate Kid), the new season takes the drama to a new level.  

The main characters of the show can’t seem to go one episode without having an all-out rumble against each other.  Oftentimes, a fight will spontaneously break out in a public place, with all of the students fighting as though they were professional martial artists.  It feels completely unrealistic and played up.

The dialogue, despite being well written, does not fit the show’s concept.  At its core, Cobra Kai is a show about rival karate dojos and the ever-present sense of good versus evil and right versus wrong.  However, the intensity of the characters’ dialogue and the frequency of their bitter quarrels feels ridiculous and out of touch with reality.

Nonetheless, Cobra Kai season 5 is surely still worth the watch.  No matter how annoying the product placement or cheesy the acting, this season is captivating, a success for the series as a whole. 

Cobra Kai Season 5 dropped on Netflix September 8th.