The success of Youtube's new series, Cobra Kai, has raised an 1980s classic from the ashes and well and truly revived the story for modern audiences. With the introduction of new characters, as well as the return of the franchise's original characters - Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) and Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) - the web series is elevated from being mere nostalgia to a nuanced study of time, generational differences and redemption.
Karate Kid was a seminal moment in the 1980s but the narrative tropes and character dynamics presented don't exactly lend themselves to 21st Century story-telling. So, how does a property so embedded in the cinematic stylings of the 1980s make itself relevant today? With Cobra Kai comes the solution: catch-up with the characters in the modern day, free from testosterone-fueled notions of manhood, family and the American way, but burdened with years of bad decisions, failed promise and the harsh reality of letting go of your best years.
Cobra Kai's success (The show holds an impressive 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes) inspires further thinking: what other 1980s films are ripe for TV reinvention? The strange mix of corny synth-pop nostalgia and broody modern day sensibilities makes for an interesting cocktail. When applied to the diverse catalogue of output in the 1980s the results can be fascinating and, importantly presents the possibility of original story-telling.
10. Road House
Road House tells the rather macho story of professional 'cooler' James Dalton (Patrick Swayze). Bringing the story to the modern day a probing eye could be turned on what kind of legacy a man like Dalton might leave. Not only this, but a potential series could explore what place that kind of masculinity has in the 21st Century in a world where maleness is constantly reshaping and adapting itself for modern sensibilities.
Placing the story within a TV show format, as opposed to a new film, will allow for the supporting characters to be more developed and gives time for the protagonist to evolve over time in a more nuanced way.
How It Should Work
The son of James Dalton looks to connect to the father he never knew by becoming a professional cooler in America's most dangerous bar. However, he also has tackle raising his young daughter all on his own whilst falling for a struggling artist who sees him as nothing but a meat head. Think Creed meets Logan with a hint of UFC.