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On Cobra Kai, John Kreese (Martin Kove)’s feud with Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) goes back to 1984. His beef is really with Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita) but now Daniel’s the only one left with the dojo. After Daniel’s victory in The Karate Kid, Miyagi had to step in to stop Kreese from assaulting his students at the beginning of The Karate Kid Part II. When Kreese punches in the car windows, Kove said, he really punched glass. 

'Cobra Kai': Martin Kove kneels with blood running out his nose
Martin Kove | Curtis Bonds Baker/Netflix

Kove spoke with Showbiz Cheat Sheet by phone on Aug. 23. Looking back on the Karate Kid films, he shared the story of The Karate Kid Part II stunts gone wrong. Cobra Kai Season 5 is now streaming on Netflix

Before ‘Cobra Kai’, Martin Kove trained for his fight during ‘The Karate Kid’

The parking lot confrontation was originally written as the end of The Karate Kid. Kove did all his training for it before they decided not to film it back then. 

We all worked with Pat Johnson. We all had to work. It was never a prerequisite to know karate to audition. He trained us a couple of hours a day and trained me separately and trained Miyagi and Ralph separately and trained the kids separately. You have the essence of the attitude, the essence if you had specific fights. You would learn that. I always trained to have that fight in Karate Kid II because the fight in Karate Kid II in the parking lot that opens up the movie was originally a scene written for Karate Kid I. All that happens in Karate Kid I, the fight in the parking lot and all. It all ended like that in the original script. Then we waited three hours on the set and I practiced the whole scene. I had to rehearse that scene God knows how long. Ultimately, we waited three hours. [Producer] Jerry [Weintraub] and [director] John [G. Avildsen] had this lengthy conversation and they came out and they wrapped us.

Martin Kove, Interview with Showbiz Cheat Sheet, 8/23/22

A special effects mishap remains in ‘The Karate Kid II’

When The Karate Kid warranted a sequel, they decided to open the movie with the aftermath of the All-Valley Karate Tournament. Kreese fights Miyagi, who dodges out of the way of Kreese’s fists, sending Kreese into the windows. The windows were supposed to blow before Kove hit them, but the timing was off. 

“Then the effects guy never blew the window so I crashed through the window and had shards of glass sticking through my hand,” Kove said. “It was a real mess.”


Why ‘Cobra Kai’ Season 5 Was so Emotional for John Kreese Actor Martin Kove

Kove said the shot of him punching the windows was from that incident. 

“Going into the window is real Martin Kove,” Kove said. “Going out we shot the next day.”

The racial epithets in ‘Karate Kid Part II’

That scene in The Karate Kid Part II is one of many in the original trilogy in which Kreese calls Miyagi a “slope.” The derogatory term for Asian people came from Kreese’s time in Vietnam, so Kove understood why that was part of Kreese’s dialogue. 

“You’ve got to remember, his recollection of the Viet Cong and even regulars, it was a devastating memory,” Kove said. “Friends died. In Vietnam, I’ve interviewed enough veterans to know how intolerable the war was. It wasn’t a fond memory so the vernacular is used. Even the N word is used by people. If you’re in a racial situation and someone is being very disrespectful and they came out of the south from the 50s and even the 40s, they would use it out of habit and disdain because they’d never matured. But in that moment, no. It was justified in his world, totally justified. It represented a group of people that did a lot of damage in his world, a lot of damage to his friends.”