The Pitch: Decades after their 1984 All Valley Karate Tournament bout, a middle-aged Daniel LaRusso and Johnny Lawrence find themselves martial-arts rivals again.
Why It’s Essential Quarantine Viewing: This is a show that, by all accounts, shouldn’t have been great. It’s produced on a low budget for YouTube’s failed premium original Netflix competitor and features a bunch of actors from the 1980s reprising roles their childhood. The series presents a legacy-quel to The Karate Kid, but imagined from the point of view of the film’s villain Johnny Lawrence played by the great William Zabka. We’ve heard time and time again that there are two sides to every story. Now imagine that the classic Karate Kid story was only Daniel’s view of the events.
That’s not to say that Johnny Lawrence wasn’t a bully, and Cobra Kai wasn’t an evil karate dojo - but maybe there is a lot more subtlety to this tale? What becomes of Lawerence and LaRusso when they’re middle-aged? How will the wins and sins of the fathers affect on the sons and daughters they have created? And how will the coming of age journeys of these teenagers change their parents? The series is shockingly more nuanced than you might ever expect to come from a film like The Karate Kid.
What makes this series so compelling is that just when you think you have it figured out, it sweeps the leg and pulls a swerve. I’ve watched the first season of this series half a dozen times – that’s how much I enjoyed it. The second season isn’t as good as the first, but it leaves the story in a very compelling place for the third installment.
This isn’t the first time I’ve pitched this series to you the /Film readers. I have been very outspoken about how enjoyable this series is. I get it, you still have to pay for a YouTube premium subscription and who wants to pay that? But you can watch the first two episodes of the first season right now, and if you take a chance on the third episode, you’ll be hooked. Plus, you have all the time in the world during this quarantine, so you have no excuse. You’ll thank me later.
A good gangster movie must do two things: Make us want to live a life of crime and, at the same time, make us grateful we haven't indulged our dark sides like the characters on this list. Most gangster films make the criminal underworld look like a hell of a good time. There's booze, money, women, expensive cars, everything we're taught we should want, but the lavish lifestyle often comes with a price, which means a good gangster movie must also show us the downside of running a criminal empire: The violence, the bloodshed, and the very real threat of prison time. As they say, you can't have your cake and eat it too — but no one told that to the characters in these films.
Here are the 10 most enjoyable films currently streaming on Netflix.
Related: The Best Crime Movies On Netflix Right Now
The Irishman 2019
Run Time: 209 min | IMDb: 8.7/10
Martin Scorsese delivers another cinematic triumph, this time for Netflix and with the help of some familiar faces. Robert De Niro and Al Pacino team up again for this crime drama based on actual events. De Niro plays Frank Sheeran a World War II vet who finds work as a hitman for the mob. Pacino plays notorious Teamster Jimmy Hoffa, a man who frequently found himself on the wrong side of the law and the criminals he worked with. The film charts the pair's partnership over the years while injecting some historical milestones for context. It's heavy and impressively cast and everything you'd expect a Scorsese passion-project to be.
A Most Violent Year 2014
Run Time: 125 min | IMDb: 7/10
Jessica Chastain and Oscar Isaac play a husband-wife duo caught up in the criminal underground in this darkly-lit drama. Isaac plays Abel Morales, an immigrant and aspiring business owner who finds himself the target of ruthless competitors when he takes steps to secure a facility to transport oil throughout the boroughs. Chastain plays his wife Anna, a shrewd businesswoman in her own right who comes from a mobster family. The two fights against a determined D.A. and corrupt criminals in order to secure the money they need to purchase the land, but in doing so, they become the enemy they've been fighting against. It's a heavy, morose kind of film, filled with violence and shady back-door dealings, but Chastain and Isaac bring a bit of brilliance to it all.
Imperial Dreams 2014
Run Time: 87 min | IMDb: 6.8/10
John Boyega stars in this stirring drama about a recently released convict caught up in the terrible cycle that people often face after prison. Boyega plays Bambi, a 21-year-old who gets a taste of freedom after spending time behind bars for some kind of crime involving a weapon. Bambi's determined to live right and do right by...