WHY WE CARE


Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live. Through reviews, articles and discussions, we want to spark intellectual thought, spiritual growth and a desire to follow the command of Colossians 2:8: "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."

YOUR STORIES


Family uses Plugged In as a ‘significant compass’

"I am at a loss for words to adequately express how much it means to my husband and me to know that there is an organization like Focus that is rooting for us. Just today I was reading Psalm 37 and thinking about how your ministry provides ways to 'dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.' We have two teenagers and an 8-year-old in our household...Plugged In has become a significant compass for our family. All three of our kids are dedicated to their walk with Christ but they still encounter challenges. Thanks for all of your research and persistence in helping us navigate through stormy waters."

Plugged In helps college student stand-up for his belief

"Thanks for the great job you do in posting movie and television reviews online. I’m a college freshman and I recently had a confrontational disagreement with my English professor regarding an R-rated film. It is her favorite movie and she wanted to show it in class. I went to your Web site to research the film’s content. Although I had not seen the movie myself, I was able to make an educated argument against it based on the concerns you outlined. The prof said that she was impressed by my stand and decided to poll the whole class and give us a choice. We overwhelmingly voted to watch a G-rated movie instead! I’ve learned that I can trust your site and I will be using it a lot in the future.”

Plugged In brings ‘Sanity and Order’ to Non-believer

“Even though I don’t consider myself a Christian, I find your Plugged In Web site useful and thought-provoking. No one reviews movies like you do. Instead of being judgmental, you put entertainment ‘on trial.’ After presenting the evidence, you allow the jury of your readers to decide for themselves what they should do. In my opinion, you bring sanity and order to the wild world of modern day entertainment. Keep up the good work!”

Mom thinks Plugged In is the ‘BEST Christian media review site’

"Our family doesn't go to the movies until we go online and check out your assessment of a given film. I think this is the BEST Christian media review website that I've found, and I recommend it to my family and friends. Keep up the good work!"

SUPPORT THE WORK OF PLUGGED IN

Our hope is that whether you're a parent, youth leader or teen, the information and tools at Plugged In will help you and your family make appropriate media decisions. We are privileged to do the work we do, and are continually thankful for the generosity and support from you, our loyal readers, listeners and friends.

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

TV Series Review

The biggest lie in storytelling? Two words: The End.

Stories don't end, really. Not as long as the protagonists have breath in their lungs. Luke Skywalker brought down the Empire but became a bitter old dude. A post-Voldemort Harry Potter grew up and had kids, and he's probably taken up coin collecting.

The kids from 1984's Karate Kid? They grew up, too. Their stories didn't end when Daniel LaRusso planted a heel in bully Johnny Lawrence's face. They went on, well after the movie's credits finished rolling. And maybe the most important parts of their respective stories are still to come.

Read On, Read Off …

It's been 34 years since Daniel and Johnny squared off in 1984's All Valley Under-18 Karate Championship. From that pivotal moment, their lives diverged radically.

Daniel leveraged his underdog victory, as well as his newfound confidence in his own abilities, to propel himself to modest fame and fortune—mostly as the cheesy spokesman/owner of his own line of car dealerships. "We kick the competition!" he bellows in his late-night TV spots, thwacking on-screen prices to oblivion with a quick karate chop or two.

Johnny has watched those ads and nursed a grudge for four decades now. Forget black belts: The only belts he cares about these days are the ones dished out by a bottle.

That could've been "The End" for Johnny, I suppose. He could've spent the rest of his life drinking beer and watching old '80s movies. But when his crusty stepfather hands Johnny a check so that he'll never have to see him again, and when a teen neighbor begs Johnny to teach him how to defend himself, the one-time karate kingpin decides to open his own dojo and reboot his own past. He calls the dojo Cobra Kai, just like the one he grew up in. The ink on the lease is barely dry before Johnny spray-paints its old motto on the wall: "Strike first. Strike hard. No mercy."

Yessir. Daniel may be king of the valley now, what with those crisp suits and hoity-toity car dealerships and his pwecious wittle famiwy. And maybe they're both a little too old to engage in a bruising rematch. But Johnny's still got some moves. He's got pupils to teach his own brand of karate. And as Daniel's family and Johnny's young protégés grow ever more entwined, Johnny and Daniel both know how to land punches where they hurt the most.

Forget the gentle "wax on, wax off" philosophy Daniel learned from his old sensei, Mr. Miyagi. In Cobra Kai, it's not about the wax: It's all about the whacks.

Out of Balance?

The original Karate Kid was relatively innocent and pretty inspirational—a PG film that inspired a generation of kids to flood their local mall-based dojos (and maybe even paint their parents' fences).

Cobra Kai is the first real high-profile show from YouTube's subscription-based addendum YouTube Red (which has released this show’s first, and now second, season). But it isn't aimed at young viewers like the original was. At least, let's hope not. Just as the show focuses on the now-50-year-old Johnny and Daniel, the content is pretty adult, too.

The s-word flies more often than karate kicks, with plenty of other milder profanities landing blow after blow. The show's sexual content also is more in-your-face than you might expect: Daniel's high school-age daughter, Samantha, is subject to sexual harassment and assault. And when she rebuffs her quasi-boyfriend's advances, she becomes the subject of ugly and graphic rumors at school. Drinking and drug use land on the screen, too.

And naturally, Cobra Kai has some violent moments. I mean, it is a show predicated, at least in part, on beating people up. And sometimes, even characters we ostensibly root for have moments where they're just plain mean.

Ironically, though, it's in the wake of those difficult moments that Cobra Kai, like its characters, finds a certain measure of redemption.

Cobra Kai is, after all, a story about folks trying to find their way to Mr. Miyagi's mystical sense of balance, to find the middle way between being a pushover and being a world-class jerk. Everyone here, from oldsters Johnny and Daniel to their troubled pupils and offspring, is searching for redemption and meaning. Some tap into past hope and past sins, even as some of those hopes and those sins are passed on to another generation. YouTube's show does more than simply play off Gen X nostalgia: It has a story of its own it wants to tell. Several, really.

But while those stories may have merit, they also come with problematic content aplenty. And that can make Cobra Kai a more difficult dojo to deal with than the original.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements

Conclusion

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

April 25, 2019: “Mercy Part II”
Cobra Kai: May 2, 2018 "Ace Degenerate"

Credits

Rating

Readability Age Range

Genre

Drama

Author

Cast

William Zabka as Johnny Lawrence; Ralph Macchio as Daniel LaRusso; Xolo Maridueña as Miguel; Tanner Buchanan as Robby Keene; Courtney Henggeler as Amanda LaRusso; Joe Seo as Kyler; Mary Mouser as Samantha LaRusso; Jacob Bertrand as Eli; Jacob Bertrand as Hawk; Nichole Brown as Aisha; Martin Kove as John Kreese

Director

Distributor

Network

YouTube Red

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

Released

On Video

Year Published

Awards

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Get weekly e-news, Culture Clips & more!