The Rocky movies have been a huge influence on Cobra Kai. since the first season, and the fifth has the best references yet to Sylvester Stallone’s epic Rocky Balboa saga. In the fifth season of Cobra Kai, Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio), Chozen Toguchi (Yuji Okumoto), and Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) reopen the Miyagi-Do and Eagle Fang karate dojos. They manage to complicate Terry Silver’s (Thomas Ian Griffith) plan to enter Cobra Kai in the Sekai Taikai, the world’s most prestigious international tournament. It turns out that Rocky IV is Johnny’s secret weapon to impress Sekai Taikai representative Gunther Braun (Carsten Norgaard).
Of course, The Karate Kid was inspired by the success of the Rocky movies. The Karate Kid was released in 1984, after Rocky I, II, and III had been released, and became a box office and pop culture phenomenon, as the original Rocky film won three Academy Awards, including the of best film. Like Rocky Balboa, Daniel LaRusso was an underdog who triumphed against the odds, and The Karate Kid even ended at the most emotional moment of Daniel’s victory, much like the Rocky movies end right after every boxing match. In Cobra Kai, Johnny is perpetually stuck in the ’80s, and almost all of his reference points are the movies and music from the decade he was in high school. However, the popularity of the Rocky movies has endured for over 50 years around the world, and it’s something Cobra Kai knows well as it borrows and pays homage to tropes from the Stallone movies.
Cobra Kai never stops looking for references to the Karate Kid movies, and the series has managed to stay fresh and fun even after 5 seasons. But Rocky is also a pervasive factor in Cobra Kai, especially for Johnny Lawrence from the start of the series. In the fifth season of Cobra Kai, Johnny’s love for Rocky becomes more important than ever, and Rocky IV, in particular, becomes a deciding factor in Miyagi-Do and Eagle Fang’s entry into the Sekai Taikai.
One of the best moments of the first season of Cobra Kai was when Johnny sat down Miguel Díaz (Xolo Maridueña) and explained his version of the rivalry with Daniel LaRusso. It was the first time the events of The Karate Kid were told from Johnny’s slightly biased point of view, and it was Cobra Kai’s playful nod to the fan theory that Daniel-san was the true villain of The Karate Kid. But Johnny also told Miguel cow he met his high school sweetheart and one of the loves of his life, Ali Mills (Elisabeth Shue), and Rocky III was one of the main reasons that relationship came about.
according to account He and his Cobra Kai mates went to see Rocky III at the movies in 1982., and that’s how he met Ali. In Johnny’s mind, he and Ali had a perfect love until Daniel LaRusso moved to the San Fernando Valley from New Jersey and robbed Ali in ’84 (although they had already broken up). But Rocky III is forever tied to how Johnny met Ali, and watching Balboa triumph against Clubber Lang (Mr. T) inspired Lawrence. Since then, Rocky Balboa became Johnny’s hero.
In the fourth season of Cobra Kai, Johnny turned to Rocky IV to psych himself up as he trained to fight Daniel. At stake was who would become the sole sensei of the students of his combined Miyagi-Do and Eagle Fang dojos. Sensei Lawrence put on his Walkman headphones and blasted his cassette of “Burning Heart” from Survivor, one of the theme songs from Rocky IV, while hilariously training for his showdown with LaRusso.
Cobra Kai Season 5 opens with an announcement for Terry Silver’s new dojo, which contains an obvious nod to Rocky IV. Silver’s state-of-the-art facility uses the latest technology to monitor the physical performance of its students, and is reminiscent of the way Soviet coaches used technology to map (and improve, via steroids), power, speed and the resistance of Iván Drago (Dolph Lundgren). Terry’s high-tech toys are one of the ways to impress the Sekai Taikai representatives.
However, no one could have predicted that Sekai Taikai’s Gunther Braun is a Rocky fan. Like Johnny, Rocky Balboa is Gunther’s hero, and the German even yelled “Drago!” like Rocky Balboa did from the top of the snowy mountain in Russia before explaining that Rocky’s “victory over Russia effectively restored my fractured homeland.” Yes, Gunther credited Rocky IV with the fall of the Berlin Wall. After Johnny and Daniel’s dojos qualified for the Sekai Taikai, Johnny explained that Miyagi-Do and Eagle Fang are two opposing philosophies that have come together to get stronger. Or, as Rocky Balboa told the world after beating Drago in Rocky IV, “If I can change, and you can change, the whole world can change!” Naturally Gunther understood and loved the reference.
The best reference to Rocky IV was the way Cobra Kai season 5 turned Daniel and Amanda LaRusso (Courtney Henggeler) in their own version of Rocky and Adrian Balboa (Talia Shire). Adrian was Rocky’s heart and soul, and before his death in Rocky Balboa, he could never fight his best or win without Adrian’s support and approval. In Rocky IV, Adrian was afraid that Drago would kill Rocky like he did Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) and didn’t support him fighting the Russian monster. Rocky went to the Soviet Union anyway to train, but it was Adrian who joined him to promise to support him “no matter what” that set Balboa’s heart on fire and propelled him to win.
Cobra Kai cleverly mirrored Rocky and Adrian with Daniel and Amanda, who, for the first time, left her husband due to Daniel’s obsession with stopping Terry Silver no matter the cost. Amanda took her children, Samantha (Mary Mouser) and Anthony (Griffin Santopietro), to her Ohio home. But it wasn’t until Amanda found out that her cousin, Jessica Andrews (Robyn Lively), met Terry Silver in The Karate Kid Part III and explained to Amanda what a terrible enemy she really is, that Mrs. LaRusso decided to return to home and support Daniel. Amanda gave Daniel her unconditional support to fight Terry Silver after that. In the Cobra Kai season 5 finale, Amanda not only supported her husband, but encouraged Daniel to “do what you have to do” to beat Silver. And, just like when Adrian gives Rocky his blessing, Daniel finally defeated Terry Silver.
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All references to Rocky in Cobra Kai 5 (The best season of all)
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