Fans of Netflix’s hit series “Cobra Kai” may know the cast best from their roles on the show, as well as the 1984 classic “The Karate Kid.” However, many fans may not know that much of the “Karate Kid” cast actually reunited for a music video long before the release of “Cobra Kai,” in a music video which some might see as an early version of the popular show.
Here’s what you need to know:
William Zabka Directed the ‘Karate Kid’-Themed Music Video
In 2007, the Los-Angeles based band No More Kings released a music video (which can be viewed above) for a song appropriately entitled “Sweep the Leg.” The title is a reference to the line which Cobra Kai sensei John Kreese (Martin Kove) utters to Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) near the end of the All Valley Karate Tournament in the original movie, in an attempt to cripple Daniel and his already-injured leg.
“Sweep the Leg” was made as an homage to “The Karate Kid,” and has several references to the movie, both subtle and overt, throughout. The music video, which was directed by William Zabka, begins with a conversation between a father and his son, portrayed by the band’s leader Pete Mitchell, in their family-owned pizza shop, called Banzai Pizza. The father tells the son, who is trimming a bonsai tree, to find “balance” in life between rock n’ roll and pizza, circling his hand in the air with reference to each subject, similar to Mr. Miyagi’s famous “wax on, wax off.”
The video goes on to reveal that a run-down and worn-out Zabka is re-watching “The Karate Kid” on loop in a trailer out in the desert. Also in the trailer are Ron Thomas, Rob Garrison, and Tony O’Dell, who played Bobby Brown, Tommy, and Jimmy respectively. Zabka only goes by the name “Johnny” and refuses to accept “his” loss to Daniel LaRusso 23 years ago.
Martin Kove is also shown riding his motorcycle along the highway. Along the way he shoots a snake – the Cobra Kai symbol – slithering along the road into the air.
The song, which Zabka/Johnny can be seen occasionally lip-syncing, begins around 3 minutes in. The lyrics are presented as a monologue of Johnny’s inner thoughts. Halfway through the video, Johnny begins a fight with the pizza delivery boy, which turns into a final showdown at the All Valley Karate Tournament, a showdown which Johnny wins with Kreese’s help. He is then snapped out of his fantasy and run over by a car driven by Ralph Macchio.
The video is definitely worth a watch for any “Karate Kid” or “Cobra Kai” fan.
The Music Video Became Hugely Popular Back In the Day
Upon its release in 2007, the song and accompanying music video essentially went viral. As PlanetComicon.com explains, it was featured on MTV.com, Vh1.com, and E!, and became the #1 video on YouTube on March 16, 2007, within a week of its original release. As the Washington Times explained in an article from August 2007, “It is, in a word, a hit, topping MySpace’s most-viewed lists, snagging nearly a million views on YouTube, and earning a mention on VH1’s ‘Best Week Ever’ online.”
Some fans looking back today might be able to view “Sweep the Leg” as an early version of “Cobra Kai” before the show had ever existed, given its re-focus of the “Karate Kid” story from Johnny’s perspective. The Times article explained:
If you don’t listen to the words, you’ll hear a catchy little pop tune that isn’t too far off Maroon 5’s mark. But you must, we repeat must, listen to the words. They’re about that tremendous karate-tastic feat, and come not from the perspective of Daniel LaRusso…but his flaxen-haired foe, Johnny Lawrence…the one who took some evil advice from his sensei and “swept” Daniel’s leg, nearly crippling him in hopes of clenching victory.
Mitchell, the band’s leader, was born in 1973, meaning that he, like “Cobra Kai” co-creators Josh Heald, Jon Hurwitz, and Hayden Schlossberg (who were all born between 1977-1978), grew up in the ’80s, with “The Karate Kid” as a major backdrop to his adolescence. He said in the Times piece, “It feels like an ‘80s album, but it really just addresses things that I grew up with. I don’t know … I’m not done with my childhood yet.”
According to AllMusic.com, Mitchell said that the band’s self-titled debut album, which included “Sweep the Leg,” was considered a “thank-you letter to the ’80s.” Little did Mitchell know that 2007 would not be the last time those very same cast members assembled for a “Karate Kid”-themed project.
Be sure to catch season 4 of “Cobra Kai” when it is released on Netflix December 31.