[Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers through the Season 2 finale of Cobra Kai, “No Mercy.”]
Cobra Kai challenged us to look at The Karate Kid in a new way – from Johnny Lawrence’s (William Zabka) perspective. Following the familiar patterns of a bully vs. new kid tale, it was natural to root for Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) to win the 1984 All Valley Karate Tournament. But then, Cobra Kai showed us that there are two sides to every story. Now the question is, can the same approach work for John Kreese (Martin Kove) as well?
We spent most of Cobra Kai Season 1 catching up with Daniel and Johnny, and establishing the Cobra Kai vs. Miyagi-Do rivalry. But, at the very end of Season 1, the folks behind Cobra Kai dropped a very interesting tease in our laps that was bound to take this dojo war to another level, the return of Sensei Kreese. Sure enough, Kreese came back full force in Season 2 to try to restore the original pillars of Cobra Kai, corrupt Johnny’s students, and up the intensity of the combat.
After all of that, how might Kreese kick things up another notch in Season 3? Kove couldn’t reveal much, but he did tease:
“You’re going to see a lot of leadership. Unquestionably there will be a lot of – I can’t expound on how much action – but there’s a terrific amount of that, and you’ll see the prowess. I can’t really say very much, but it’s quite exciting. And it’s very surprising. All the elements, very surprising. And you’ll be very happy because it goes further into the stories of the characters you love.”
So yes, a very vague tease right there, but Kove did get into specifics on one particular point; how exactly is Kreese paying for the Cobra Kai dojo?
“The bottom line is, he’s making money from the students there. He’s very popular at the end. Now the students, based on that fight in school, now they want to be, as everybody does, on the side of the winners. Cobra Kai will increase in the amount of students, will increase in the amount of revenue. And being a badass – Billy says it, too. He says, ‘Cobra Kai is badass.’ It really is. And it doesn’t mean you have to go as far as John Kreese goes from Billy’s standpoint today in Season 2, but John doesn’t feel that way. Sensei Kreese doesn’t feel that way. There’s a margin of evil. He doesn’t feel that way. It’s an instructional procedure to succeed in Cobra Kai, and you will get it if you join, you come in on time, you profess ‘no mercy,’ you profess mercy is for the weak, fear does not exist in the dojo, defeat does not exist in the dojo. As long as you stay on that, he’ll always have students, he’ll always have an income, he’ll always keep Cobra Kai open, and if he doesn’t, he’ll do what he did with the landlord before.”
When you watch the full video interview with Kove at the top of this article, you’ll hear me refer to someone as “a certain source of financing.” Kove immediately connected the dots between that phrasing and The Karate Kid Part III’s Terry Silver (Thomas Ian Griffith), a man who fought alongside Kreese in Vietnam, became an extremely successful businessman and then wound up funding Cobra Kai. It certainly seems like there’s a possibility that Terry Silver could return in the series, but Kove did admit that he truly doesn’t even know the plans for that character, if there are any at all:
“And to be perfectly honest, I don’t even know the answer to that question totally. So we’ll keep it the undercurrent of the interview, you know? I really don’t even know the answer!”
For loads more from Kove on his experience filming a key scene for The Karate Kid Part II, Kreese’s father-son relationship with Johnny, if he thinks John Kreese is redeemable and so much more, check out the full interview at the top of this article! And if you’re looking for even more Cobra Kai coverage, click here to watch our episode of Collider Ladies Night with Mary Mouser and here for my interview with Johnny Lawrence himself, William Zabka.
- 00:48 – Kove talks about what it was like finding out that the original ending of The Karate Kid was going to be saved for The Karate Kid Part II.
- 03:17 – What Kove learned from watching The Karate Kid for body language.
- 05:42 – Kove revisits filming the moment when Kreese punches the car window.
- 10:51 – Do the writers discuss why particular kiais are used for specific scenes?
- 12:30 – Kove is always looking for moments of vulnerability for Kreese; Kreese loves Johnny like a son, but Cobra Kai still comes first.
- 15:09 – Now that Johnny pushed Kreese away again, does Kreese still look at him like a son or as an enemy?
- 16:39 – Is John Kreese redeemable?
- 17:16 – If Cobra Kai is #1 and Johnny is #2, is Hawk #3?
- 20:40 – Kove teases leadership and action in Season 3.
- 23:00 – How does Kreese pay for the Cobra Kai dojo? Does this mean a certain source of financing is coming back into the equation?
- 26:10 – Kove is a big fan of the team over at Netflix!