The only thing more satisfying than seeing someone get their “just desserts” is when it’s served by an underdog. We can all relate when a seemingly random New Yorker starts getting picked on by a bully, which is probably why it’s so incredibly satisfying to see his unexpected revenge. See it for yourself in this fantastic Cobrai Kai prank video debuting exclusively on io9.
Chopping motorcycles in half with your bare hands and kicking over streetlights seems like feats of strength more in line with Marvel’s movie heroes, but were you to stumble across a showdown like this on the streets of New York, you probably wouldn’t immediately guess that it was the work of talented practical effects artists and pranksters.
To promote YouTube Red’s new Karate Kid sequel series, Cobra Kai, James Percelay, Sam Pezzullo, and Michael Krivicka helped engineer this incredibly elaborate prank that involved actors (one of who has a black belt in karate), rigged props, and a bunch of innocent bystanders who can’t believe what they’re seeing.
Shot over two days, the scene was recreated again and again to catch as many reactions as possible using three hidden cameras and up to eight wireless microphones strategically positioned to record what people were saying—or screaming. After each showdown, it took about 10 minutes to reset the scene, and presumably even longer to clear out all the people who had just witnessed the destruction and wanted to see how it was done.
A fake street light was engineered to fall over when actually kicked by the actor, while internal safety mechanisms ensured there was never a risk of it falling far enough to hurt someone, or damage anything. The motorcycle splitting in two was a different story, however, requiring someone to separate each half using an invisible trigger wire, but perfectly synced to the actor’s karate chop. The fire hydrant also required some off-screen support and was fed by a hose connected to a water truck parked farther down the street.
I’m never an advocate of pranks when I’m on the receiving end, but I’m pretty sure I would have been cheering that guy on had I seen this go down. And just like the little kid near the end of the video, I would have undoubtedly given him a high-five as he walked away.