Cobra Kai season 2 trailer

The trailers for season two of Cobra Kai showed some fighting in the high school, but the full melee happens in the season finale. It is an epic battle worth discussing in-depth, but since it’s the season finale we want to avoid spoilers for people who haven’t seen the episode yet.

So make your way to the end of Cobra Kai season two on YouTube. We expect you’ll be blown away by the climax in the school. After you’ve seen it, the creators and cast of Cobra Kai spoke to /Film about how they pulled off that incredible finale.

Major spoilers ahead.

Not Another Tournament

The first season of Cobra Kai mirrored The Karate Kid in the way it climaxed at the All Valley Karate Tournament. It had a different outcome for Cobra Kai, but it was a riff on the original film. Cobra Kai creators Josh Heald, Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg wanted season two to go in a different direction.

“I think for the three of us, it was very important early on that this season did not culminate in another tournament,” Heald said. “We didn’t want to get into a situation where every season of Cobra Kai, the audience is expecting the All Valley Tournament again because at some point, there’s going to be limited returns on how much you could amp up the energy and the action and the drama in there.”

Season two was also setting up more characters who could be opponents for one another. There was always going to be Miguel (Xolo Mariduena) and Robbie (Tanner Buchanan). Now there was also Tory (Peyton List) and Sam (Mary Mouser), Hawk (Jacob Bertrand) and Demetri (Gianni Decenzo), etc.

“We also knew that our whole season was designed in such a way to present all these rivalries coexisting and culminating and really boiling over at the same moment,” Heald continued. “Early on, when breaking story, we knew we had this idea for this kind of Outsiders style rumble. It was a little bit hazy for us in terms of where it might take place, but as we started to realize that our storytelling was not taking us over the same amount of timeline as the first season, we realized there was this great opportunity to lead up to the first day of school and see this thing really explode right as the bell rings. That gave us this new arena for the show. It wasn’t one square where the referee had rules. It was kind of a prison riot. Then we just had to dig down very specifically with all the character beats to make sure that fight had the energy and your invested interest to the various characters to sustain itself throughout that very long fight.”

It’s A Karate Attack On The Death Star

The school gave the fighting a lot more room for individual conflicts. There are the hallways, the locker areas, and the stairs. The creators referenced Star Wars movies, which tend to end cutting back and forth between space battles, ground battles and light saber battles inside a starship.

“The entire school fight sequence, we filmed it very much like the ending of a Star Wars movie,” Schlossberg said. “It’s a battle that’s happening on multiple fronts. You got to have your moments where it’s intense action and then it dies down and we have moments of comedy and then obviously it ends with tragedy.”

Mission accomplished, guys.

Both Dojos Get Emotional

The school battle is a lot more dangerous than an organized tournament setting, even with leg sweeps. It’s especially telling that the teacher bows out of the whole thing. He doesn’t get paid enough to police Karate Kids.

Cobra Kai teaches no mercy and Miyagi-Do teaches more defensive and sportsmanlike competition, but when you have teenagers dealing with love interests, exes, betrayed friendships and all their teenage drama, it doesn’t matter. Their emotions are going to explode, and now they have the skills to be dangerous.

“Part of the fun of the show is seeing kids using Karate to help them with the situations that they have but then when you end up in the natural confrontations that you have in a high school, it just makes it that much more explosive,” Schlossberg said.

Filming On Weekends, Practicing At Home

The fight scene was shot at a technical college, so they could only film on weekends. Class was in session on weekdays. A standard Cobra Kai shooting block was two weeks for two episodes. So they devoted two Sundays and a Saturday in between to the school fight, Mariduena and Mouser said. They found rehearsal time whenever they could.

“I was practicing things in the shower,” Mouser said. “I was practicing as I was brushing my teeth. I was drilling kicks as I was making myself oatmeal. It got to the point where it felt a little bit like a crazy build up sequence in a movie just living my life around that time.”

The actors also had to be flexible to changes in choreography.

“By the time we got to the end, we were learning choreography as we were feeling it,” Mouser said. “We were learning pieces, they were changing. We’re like okay, we can’t get that angle, we can’t get that show so let’s incorporate those pieces from that part up there and we’ll add them to this fight here and now you’re going to throw and extra kick and now you’re going to add this, changing through lines.”

The Long Take

The most impressive part of the school fight is a long take that runs for about a minute and a half with various characters fighting. Emmy nominated fight choreographers Hiro Koda and Jahnel Curfman worked with steadicam operator Chris Jones to pull it off.

“Chris Jones knows exactly how to maneuver the camera and where to get out of the way,” Heald said.

When you watch season two a second time, and we’re sure you will, see if you can spot where they swap out the actors and stunt performers during the long take.

“There are things happening in that sequence where you have actors and stunt performers exchanging positions which is called a Texas Switch,” Heald said. “There are moments where there are three Texas Switches on the same duo happening before your eyes and it’s like a magic trick. But ultimately you can’t do a sequence like that without your actors giving it their all because there are moments where there are no stunt performers on screen except for the background and you’re seeing Mary Mauser, Peyton List, Jacob Bertrand, Xolo Mariduena and Tanner Buchanan all exchanging fake blows but all doing it themselves, so you’re able to have that kind of movement and you’re not trying to hide anything.”

Cobra Kai season two is now available on YouTube Premium.

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