The producers of “Cobra Kai” have confirmed that Tamlyn Tomita and Yuji Okumoto will reprise their roles from “The Karate Kid Part II” in the show’s third season.
“Cobra Kai,” which premiered on YouTube and moved earlier this year to Netflix, continues the “Karate Kid” film franchise and stars Ralph Macchio as Daniel LaRusso, William Zabka as Johnny Lawrence, and Martin Kove as John Kreese, along with a cast of newcomers as their students.
Under the terms of the deal, Netflix will carry the first two seasons of the Sony Pictures Television show and Season 3 will premiere Jan. 1.
“Cobra Kai” takes place more than 30 years after the events of the 1984 All Valley Karate Tournament. A now successful Daniel struggles to maintain balance in his life without the guidance of Mr. Miyagi, and must face his previous adversary, down-and-out Johnny, who seeks redemption by reopening the infamous Cobra Kai karate dojo. The late Pat Morita appears as Miyagi in flashbacks.
The acclaimed and much-talked-about show was named 2018’s best drama by Rotten Tomatoes, earning a rare “100% Fresh” rating for its first season and receiving two Emmy nominations. “Cobra Kai” is written and executive produced by Josh Heald, Jon Hurwitz, and Hayden Schlossberg. Heald is the writer behind the cult classic “Hot Tub Time Machine” franchise, while Hurwitz and Schlossberg created the successful “Harold and Kumar” film series. Macchio and Zabka serve as co-executive producers.
In “The Karate Kid Part II” (1986), directed by John Avildsen, Daniel and Miyagi visit Miyagi’s hometown in Okinawa. Miyagi encounters a lost love, Yukie (Nobu McCarthy) and an old enemy, Sato (Danny Kamekona). Meanwhile, Daniel falls in love with Yukie’s niece, Kumiko (Tomita), and is confronted by Sato’s nephew, Chozen (Okumoto). This was Tomita’s first movie.
Macchio and Morita also starred in “The Karate Kid Part III” (1989). In “The Next Karate Kid” (1994), Miyagi teaches a new student played by Hilary Swank.
The relationship between Daniel and Kumiko did not continue, as Tomita did not reprise her role until now and in “Cobra Kai” Daniel is married to Amanda (Courtney Henggeler) and they have a teenage daughter, Samantha (Mary Mouser).
In Season 3 of “Cobra Kai,” Daniel returns to Okinawa and learns something about Miyagi and his style of karate. While Hawaii substituted for Okinawa in the movie, the “Cobra Kai” scenes were actually shot in Okinawa.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Tomita — whose recent credits include “The Good Doctor,” “The Man in the High Castle” and “Star Trek: Picard” — was asked if she ever wondered what Kumiko would be up to today. “Oh, sure,” she said. “It was always related to dance, and maybe she fell in love and had kids. There’s all kinds of permutations as to what would have happened to her.”
Regarding the reunion of Daniel and Kumiko, Tomita commented, “I think it’ll answer a lot of questions, and fans will be happy as to where [the characters] find themselves and the kind of discussions they have. I think fans will be pleased.”
On the idea of revisiting the world of “Karate Kid,” she said, “Because of the passing of John Avildsen and Pat Morita, because of the passing of Danny Kamekona and Nobu McCarthy, they knew they had even more of an investment to make on behalf of those people who passed because their voices aren’t here anymore. [Producer] Jerry Weintraub is not around anymore. I trust Ralph Macchio and William Zabka and the three writers.”
Tomita attended a 30th anniversary celebration of “The Karate Kid” in 2014 at the Japanese American National Museum but was not one of the speakers. The panel featured Macchio, Zabka, Kove, Avildsen and Pat Morita’s daughter Aly Morita.
That same year, Tomita and Okumoto appeared in the action comedy film “Awesome Asian Bad Guys,” directed by Stephen Dypiangco and Patrick Epino and also featuring Al Leong, George Cheung, Randall Park, Aaron Takahashi and Dante Basco.
In a video posted on his Facebook page on Dec. 9, Okumoto — whose recent credits include the movie “Driven” and the TV shows “New Girl” and “Z Nation” — said, “Today is the day when I can finally stop denying. I had to keep this under wraps until now. Enjoy the trailer. [As Chozen] I know you like it.”
The trailer briefly shows Daniel and Chozen facing off, though it’s unclear whether they are just sparring or in a fight to the death.
Season 2 ends with Miguel (Xolo Maridueña), one of Johnny’s students, hospitalized and unconscious after getting into a fight at school. In the trailer, Daniel tries to make peace with Johnny in order to prevent more violence between their dojos.
Heald, Hurwitz and Schlossberg said in a statement, “Making ‘Cobra Kai’ has been a dream come true for us since day one. We are thankful for the tireless dedication of Jeff Frost, Chris Parnell, Jason Clodfelter, Karen Tatevosian, and all our partners at Sony for finding us a new home where we can not only continue the series, but also explore opportunities to further expand the ‘Karate Kid’ universe. We are beyond excited to join our new partners at Netflix and look forward to the show reaching the massive global audience who loves this franchise as much as we do.”
Brian Wright, vice president of original series for Netflix, said, “The appeal of the ‘Karate Kid’ saga is timeless, and ‘Cobra Kai’ picks up right where it left off without missing a beat. The rivalry between Daniel and Johnny is one for the ages, and the show has a ton of heart and is a lot of fun. We can’t wait to introduce a new generation of fans to ‘Cobra Kai’ and are thrilled to be its new home around the world.”
Jeff Frost, president of Sony Pictures Television, said, “We are so proud of ‘Cobra Kai’ and are overwhelmed by the massive fan response to the series. Josh, Jon, Hayden, Ralph, William and the entire cast have done such a brilliant job with this sensational series and the huge audience reaction and sentiment for it is a testament to that. We are very thankful to our partners at Netflix and couldn’t be more elated that they have become the new home for this epic saga.”