What really happened during that fateful match between Daniel LaRusso and Johnny Lawrence at the All Valley Karate Championship in 1984? Was it strategic coaching when Sensei John Kreese told his Cobra Kai apprentice to sweep the leg? Was the crane kick, the move that many consider to have transformed Daniel into The Karate Kid, in fact illegal?
There’s much debate to be had as the stars of Karate Kid spin-off series Cobra Kai reprise their roles in EW’s exclusive look at Daniel LaRusso vs. Johnny Lawrence, a new YouTube Premium spoof with ESPN’s 30 for 30 films.
The iconic finale showdown from the 1984 movie gets placed under a microscope through docu-style interviews with Ralph Macchio (Daniel), William Zabka (Johnny), Martin Kove (John Kreese), Mary Mouser (Samantha LaRusso), and Xolo Maridueña (Miguel Diaz). As with any other standard 30 for 30 installment, ESPN personalities also throw in their two cents.
“We are here today, 36 years somewhat later, and we’re still having this conversation. That’s just awesome,” Macchio’s Daniel says.
As the talking heads tell it, “things were not looking good” for Danny in the final round. “He’d gotten in a couple of good shots, but the general feeling was the kid was done,” ESPN’s Nicole Briscoe recalls.
Then, of course, came the game-changing crane kick. “It’s unclear if it’s a legitimate victory,” Hayden Schlossberg and Josh Heald, All Valley Karate Tournament “historians,” say. “The kick to the head. There’s debates out there.”
The spoof comes in advance of the Cobra Kai season 2 premiere on April 24 on YouTube Premium, featuring the aftermath of that cliffhanger return of Kove’s John Kreese. As the 30 for 30 video shows, that sensei hasn’t learned much.
“Sensei Kreese has an enormous role in season 2,” executive producer Jon Hurwitz previously told EW. “We’ve taken the original sensei and run him into the mix in Johnny’s world, and this is somebody who has a loaded relationship with Johnny. He’s a father figure and a mentor and he’s also been a guy who has disappointed him greatly and literally tried to choke him to death — the last time that we saw them on screen together.”
To put it more simply, Hurwitz adds, “They have a very complicated relationship.”