Fast-forward to 2018, when the web TV series "Cobra Kai" debuted on YouTube Premiere and millions of fans tuned in to see where the beloved characters, played by Ralph Macchio and William Zabka, were at today.
Turns out the rivalry is alive and well, and the actors spoke with Fox News about what Season 2 has in store, why handling fame back then was easier, and if their characters will ever find common ground.
"We knew the audience was out there," Macchio explained about why he signed onto the new series. He said paying homage to the original movie and updating the storyline to make it "fresh and relevant" was an important balance to maintain.
Zabka added that it's the themes of overcoming bullying and friendship that stand the test of time.
"Mentorship, parenthood, navigating adolescence," continued Macchio. "All those themes are relevant to every generation."
In Season 2, a major character from "Karate Kid" returns — Martin Kove as sensei John Kreese. Zabka said the powerful chemistry between the two is still there and that he loved sharing the screen with his former co-star. The character is just as sinister as he was three decades ago, he said.
Macchio and Zabka also reflected on their time as young stars in Hollywood and how it was much easier to be "famous" back in the day because there wasn't social media to contend with.
"Now everybody knows where you are," Zabka said. "We got eased into it." Macchio agreed: "There's no buffer time to correct anything." The actors made sure to commend their young "Cobra Kai" castmates on their professionalism.
"They're really great kids and they do not have that sense of entitlement. They do not take it for granted. They feel that they are the lucky ones to be involved with the show," Macchio said. If anything, the older guys ask the youngsters for help navigating social media.
As for Johnny and Daniel's tumultuous relationship? Zabka calls it a "minefield" and Macchio says the two really aren't that different if they could just see past their facades. But the push and pull of their rivalry is what propels the story forward and Macchio hopes to keep it going for as long as possible.
"Cobra Kai" was renewed for a third season this month.