The "Karate Kid" sequel series "Cobra Kai" debuts on YouTube Red today, with many diehard fans of the 1984 classic starring Ralph Macchio and William Zabka wondering how the new show ties to the original film and how it differs.
As trailers for the web TV series have shown, the 10 episodes are first seen through the eyes of Johnny Lawrence, the heel who tormented Macchio's Daniel Larusso, before he was bested by the karate novice at the All-Valley Karate Championship to close the film in dramatic fashion 34 years ago.
The new show also reveals a more sympathetic character than in the original. It’s a point Zabka relishes, he said, showing a new side to the pretty-boy karate punk.
"Johnny, he's the antagonist. He's the villain; all that but he was three-dimensional, too. He was human,” Zabka told ABC News of his character. “At the end of the tournament, he didn't run out with a baseball bat try to knock Larusso out. There's a redemptive moment.”
Now down on his luck, character Johnny thinks bringing back Cobra Kai is the way to help bullied kids in his area.
"It has a lot of heart and soul, comedy and kick-a-- fight scenes," Macchio, 56, told ABC News, joking that Johnny , in his humble opinion, "is still a jerk."
In complete contrast to Johnny, Daniel couldn't be living a better life. He's vastly successful, owning car dealerships in the area, has an amazing wife and loving daughter, who is trained in the martial arts.
What's different from the original "Karate Kid" films is that there's no wrong or right, no clear villain or hero. It's true to life and even Johnny's backstory is examined further.
"You don't know what side you are rooting for,” Macchio said. “That's interesting, too. If you don't have conflict in the story, you don't have a story. Over the arc in this season, Larusso, you meet him in a different way.
“He has a void in his life, even though he's successful in his life: his work, his marriage. He's also in that place; maybe he's lost a little of his balance."
The "role reversal," he added, “is something fans new and old will appreciate.”
By the end of the 10-episode run, Zabka, 52, added, "you don't know" how to feel.
A particular sequence toward the end was especially trying for Zabka, bringing back memories of that famed tournament scene more than three decades ago, where Johnny and Daniel square off in the finals.
"It felt very similar to the movie, where they say, 'Ladies and gentleman, Daniel Larusso's going to fight,'" he said of the comeback Daniel made against all odds in the original. "That moment where Johnny's looking around going, 'What's going on?'"
While the roles may have shifted or changed, Johnny and Daniel still have quite the karate chops, though they said they made it look easier than it really was.
"You envision the 20-year-old leg going up nice and easy and snapping back, but the 50-year old leg is a lot slower," Macchio said. "Luckily, We've kept in shape and amped it up a bit. To me it's all about stretching."
No matter what happens in season 1, Zabka and Macchio are thinking long-term with this show, which ends in a big cliffhanger.
"If we played it just right ... that should set us up for season 2," Macchio said. "Just a set up for the real story."