‘Cobra Kai‘ is a martial arts action-comedy series based on characters from the film series ‘The Karate Kid’. The series is set 34 years after the events depicted in the original movie. We see that Johnny Lawrence has given martial arts another chance in his life and has opened up a dojo called Cobra Kai. Here, he teaches his students several aggressive methods of karate, which land them in trouble. Soon after Lawrence sets up the new dojo, he again comes in contact with his bitter rival Daniel LaRusso. Daniel has lost the biggest support system in his life, Mr. Miyagi, and is now struggling to survive. However, when he sees Lawrence doing well with his dojo, Daniel starts one such school of his own.
‘Cobra Kai’ received critical acclaim upon release, with critics praising the show for its great action sequences and humor. If you are looking for more titles that explore similar ideas and themes, then you have come to the right place. Here’s the list of best shows similar to ‘Cobra Kai’ that are our recommendations. You can watch several of these series like ‘Cobra Kai’ on Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime.
8. Street Fighter: Resurrection (2016)
This show is inspired by the video game series ‘Street Fighter’ and it has acclaimed martial artist Charlie Nash as its main character. It was presumed by all that Nash is dead, but he suddenly reappears and starts killing numerous champions of Street Fight competitions. Now it is up to the two Street Fighters, Ryu and Ken, to figure out whether Nash is on their side or not. The series was met with poor critical acclaim and was later canceled after the first season.
7. Warrior (2019-)
The original concept of ‘Warrior’ was initially penned down by Bruce Lee himself. However, the show could not materialize in his lifetime and only saw the light of day in 2019. The story of ‘Warrior’ is set in 19th century San Francisco’s China Town. The events happen during the infamous Tong Wars in the United States where numerous members of these gangs got killed in violent attacks. The protagonist of the story is an immigrant named Ah Sahm. He is in San Francisco to look for his missing sister, but after he impresses members of the tong Hop Wei with his superior fighting skills, they decide to make him a member of their gang. This naturally leads Ah Sahm down a spiral of death and destruction. The series mainly received positive reviews from critics.
6. Fight Quest (2007-2008)
Despite being a documentary series, ‘Fight Quest’ deserves to be included in this list. This is because, just like John and Daniel are passionate about martial arts, so are the two hosts of this show, Jimmy Smith and Doug Anderson. These two superior athletes of combat sports take us on a journey around the world where they explore different martial art forms and styles and train with some of the finest fighters in the world. They spend five days learning each technique, and after that, they demonstrate what they have learnt from a fight.
5. Iron Fist (2017-2018)
Though this is a superhero series, ‘Iron Fist‘ does deserve its spot on this list because of the importance given to martial arts. The lead character of the show is the son of a billionaire industrialist, Danny Rand. Danny went missing at a very young age and was adopted by the inhabitants of the city, K’un-Lun. With them, he grew up practicing kung fu and became a master of the craft. Danny later finds out that he is the chosen one among them who can summon the legendary powers of a being called the Iron Fist. With his superior skills, he returns to New York City and starts helping those in need and punishing the criminals of the city. His adventures lead him to a mysterious organization called The Hand, with whom Iron Fist has an age-old rivalry. The show received poor critical acclaim due to its unoriginal storyline and ideas.
4. Kung Fu (1972-1975)
This series seamlessly blends martial arts aesthetics with those of the westerns. The leading character, Kwai Chang Caine, is a Shaolin monk, who has grown up away from his family, in a Shaolin monastery, where he has perfected the martial arts. Caine’s father, we come to know, is American and his mother is of Chinese origin. When Caine’s mentor is killed by the nephew of the Chinese emperor, Caine kills the perpetrator in order to take revenge. This naturally invokes the wrath of the king who sends men all over the country to look for Caine. He escapes China and ends up in America looking for his half-brother. Though Caine tries to avoid drawing attention to himself, he always gets out of his way to help the ones in need, and thus, sometimes gets into unnecessary trouble. The show has since become a cult classic, inspiring many spin-offs and spoofs. It is even mentioned in Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Pulp Fiction’.
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3. Into The Badlands (2015-2019)
One of the recent TV shows to enthrall audiences with its brilliant action sequences, ‘Into The Badlands’ is a roller-coaster ride across a dystopian world. The world we see in this series is set in the future where the modern form of government has become a thing of the past. Technology has also been done away with and there are no guns in this world. The society depicted here is called the Badlands. Stretches of land are controlled by feudal rulers called barons and they have soldiers called clippers, prostitutes called dolls, and laborers called cogs who work for them. Outside the rule of the barons, there exist fringe groups which are portrayed as nomadic tribes. There is one woman, simply known as The Widow, who is slowly building up a revolution against the barons. The show was praised by critics for its original ideas and vision, but some complained that it hardly manages to live up to its potential.
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2. The Legend Of Bruce Lee (2008)
One of the biggest Chinese TV shows of all time, this biographical drama chronicles the life of the martial arts film legend Bruce Lee. Famous Hong Kong actor Danny Chan plays the part of Lee in the film. The story begins with Lee’s early days in a Hong Kong school with mostly British children all around him (Hong Kong was under British rule for a long time). There is a racist undertone in the way the British treat the native folks, and it becomes very important to little Bruce to prove to them that the Chinese can be better than them.
Then the movie shifts to the time when Bruce is growing up in the States. He goes through some pretty rough times, working as a dishwasher and sleeping in a basement. One day, Bruce comes to the notice of the karate community who challenge him to a fight. However, his condition is that the best karate fighter must fight against him. Agreeing to his proposal, the karate team sends in a fighter called Kimura. When Lee defeats him in 11 seconds, Kimura gets fascinated and starts learning kung-fu from Lee himself. The story follows Lee as he becomes a famous martial artist and depicts his eventual rise to international superstardom. The show became hugely successful in China and also got a vast number of international syndications.
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1. The Legendary Fok (1981)
This Hong Kong television series is inspired by the life of a legendary martial artist called Huo Yuanjia. Legend has it that he helped the Chinese feel proud about their national identity when they were being tormented by foreign invaders. There is another subplot in the series about a famed fighter called Chen Zhen. This character is often seen on the silver screen, having been portrayed by different actors over the years. It first began with Bruce Lee in ‘Fists of Fury’ (1972), and the latest one is ‘Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen’ (2008), where the character is played by Donnie Yen.
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