Kevin: Like the Israelis and Palestinians, the conflict between Daniel LaRusso and the Cobra Kai dojo will apparently continue on for eternity thanks to the recent announcement of a new chapter in the “Karate Kid” saga. The upcoming YouTube series “Cobra Kai” will once again pit Ralph Macchio’s character against Johnny Lawrence – played by ‘80s supervillain Billy (“Just One of the Guys” “Back to School”) Zabka – after his old high school opponent decides to re-open the infamous dojo. While I’m sure watching two guys who apparently peaked their senior year will be incredibly compelling, there’s a different LaRusso nemesis I’d rather get an update on: ponytailed plutonium-dumping billionaire Terry Silver from “Karate Kid III”:
Forget about the supposedly heartwarming friendship between Daniel and his elderly Japanese karate teacher Mr. Miyagi; as far as I’m concerned we would all consider ourselves the luckiest people on Earth to have a best friend half as caring and generous as Terry Silver (Thomas Ian Griffith). While Daniel’s supposed friend Miyagi (Pat Morita) refuses to help him train even when he is basically having his life threatened, at the drop of a hat Silver completely sets aside his extremely lucrative business of … illegally dumping toxic waste into Third World countries I guess (if you have a better explanation for how he makes his billions I’m all ears) just so he can help an old war buddy get revenge on some 17-year-old who embarrassed him at an amateur karate tournament.
And in case you forgot how that all went down, “Karate Kid III” helpfully starts with a “Previously on …” montage where we see Daniel use the famous “crane kick” to the face to defeat Johnny, the prized student of Cobra Kai dojo instructor John Kreese, who perhaps reacts less than graciously when he tries to strangle Johnny to death in the parking lot in front of the students and parents. After being thoroughly defeated by Miyagi’s ability to move out of the way of slowly telegraphed punches …
… Part III picks up with Kreese a broken man, literally and mentally (based on his appearance I think it’s implied he’s turned to alcoholism, although Martin Kove looks way less drunk than I was when I watched this):
When he enters his now-abandoned dojo we discover that Kreese was a badass war hero in Vietnam and apparently the U.S. Army’s karate champion three straight years:
Hold on, am I the only one here who’d kill to see a movie about the adventures of Capt. John Kreese karate-chopping America’s enemies, rather than having to watch for the third time some twerpy teenager learn the kind of rudimentary martial arts skills my five-year-old nephew has already mastered? Either way, a representative from the All-Valley tournament helpfully leaves a voice message reminding Kreese that he lost all of his students …
… while he ruefully re-reads an article by possibly the worst reporter in history. This person, who didn’t even get a byline, also apparently didn’t bother to interview Miyagi and learn that he’s just a gardener and doesn’t operate a dojo, while the actual article itself is about residential tax laws for some reason. Actually now that I think about it, this reporter has a great career ahead of themselves with the “Los Angeles Chronicle” from “Tango and Cash.”
Anyway, Kreese just decides to show up unannounced at his friend Terry’s giant mountaintop lair …
… where he finds Terry practicing karate in the middle of the day, in the tradition of all great businessman villains in 1980’s movies (I wonder if he and Peter Delaplane ever have sparring sessions when Pete comes into town?) Now as much enjoyment as Terry obviously gets from dumping toxic waste into already poverty-stricken areas, when he sets his eyes on Kreese it’s obvious they share a bond that mere mortals such as ourselves will never understand:
It’s here where we first start to appreciate what a generous and loyal human being Terry Silver is. Apparently he bought the Cobra Kai dojo for his buddy to run, and even though Kreese kind of screwed the pooch with the whole “attempted murder of a student” thing, Terry won’t even discuss the idea of accepting back rent from a down-on-his-luck friend.
We also briefly get a glimpse into how Terry made the vast fortune that he can now so freely give away:
Either way, when Terry sees how low his friend and American war hero John Kreese has been brought by that little punk Daniel LaRusso …
… he again shows what an amazing person he is by not only sending Kreese to a tropical paradise …
… but he also gives him a ride to the airport too! What a guy! Oh and on the way he also apparently hatches an extremely complex and time-consuming plan to make some teenager he’s never met wish he was never born:
Terry also gives Kreese the kind of respect and appreciation that vets like him were denied in a deeply divided America during the Vietnam conflict. After seeing the obvious love and camaraderie shared by these two band of brothers, who wouldn’t want to see a prequel about these two loyal psychopaths having the time of their lives committing all sorts of war crimes in Vietnam?
Anyway, just when you are starting to write up some awesome John Kreese-Terry Silver fan fiction, we unfortunately get the arrival of the actual stars of the film: Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita. And I mean that literally, as Kreese barely misses running into them at the airport by less than five seconds. Yeah that wouldn’t have been awkward or anything: “Ohhhhh, hey Daniel and Miyagi, you know I was just thinking about you.”
Apparently they are returning from the trip to Japan they took in the previous sequel, which means that only a few months have passed in the “Karate Kid” universe even though in reality the first and third films were separated by five years. Not only would Christopher Nolan have a field day with this kind of timeline conundrum, it also means that Ralph Macchio was still playing a 17-year-old while nearing 30 in real life.
If that’s not ridiculous enough, the screenwriters had to figure out a reason for why Daniel would be living with Miyagi that didn’t involve pedophilia, so apparently during their brief trip the apartment complex where Daniel and his mother lived – and where Miyagi worked – was apparently sold and is being torn down “Bosom Buddies” style. I guess they don’t have working phones in Japan, which is why Daniel has to return to the States to discover that his mom is in Jersey caring for the heretofore unknown Uncle Lou:
After informing her son that for all intents and purposes he’s pretty much homeless in Los Angeles, she then twists the knife by asking about the girlfriend he made in “Karate Kid II”:
Unlike the rest of us she is not aware that even though Daniel is a two-time All-Valley karate winner, he is an all-time loser in the game of love. While he wooed Elisabeth Shue away from Johnny in the first “Karate Kid,” the second one began with him whining to Miyagi about how she dumped him right out of the blue for yet another football player. Now you would think that a sweet and naive girl from a small Japanese village would take longer to realize what an annoying wimp Daniel is, but as you can see …
As we shall see later, Daniel’s luck with the ladies gets no better in this film, but thankfully we take a break from this sad sack and return to a real winner: Terry Silver, who is using his usual 2:00 p.m. “drink champagne in the steam room” time to update Kreese on his evil scheme.
Okay, so after gifting Kreese 100 percent ownership in 20 new Cobra Kai dojos and setting him up with a three-way with his favorite Tahitian massage girls, Terry actually asks if there is ANYTHING ELSE Kreese wants! And based on Terry’s reaction you would have thought he just won the lottery, but apparently making his friend’s dreams come true gives him the kind of joy most of us can only hope to experience even once in our lives. God Terry rules!
Meanwhile, he also proves to be a fair businessman even with people he’s just met. For instance, when he’s introduced to Mike Barnes – the “bad boy of karate” who’s about to make LaRusso’s life a living hell – Terry sets him up with his own pair of goons (including Snake, who always wears a gold necklace OVER his shirt no matter what):
… as well as promises him a 50 percent stake in all the Cobra Kai dojos he just bought. I don’t know about you, but that seems more than fair and equitable (although not sure how that will work since he just promised Kreese full ownership). Oh yeah, did I mention he’s conducting business while taking a luxurious bubble bath? How can you not love this guy?!
Anyway, for reasons I don’t care to go into, Daniel and Miyagi open a bonsai store together using Daniel’s college savings (which he apparently keeps in a small roll in his pocket at all times):
The wardrobe person also really did Ralph Macchio no favors in this movie by always dressing him in baggy mom jeans and long-sleeved shirts loosely tucked in with no belt, while the actor also weirdly walks around on his toes and generally acts like a spazz at all times:
I think the filmmakers realized how asexual he was coming off, because they do something I’ve never seen before with the hero of a movie: have the girl who would normally be his love interest (played by Blake Lively’s half-sister Robyn “Teen Witch” Lively) put him in the friend zone almost immediately. Apparently her character Jessica is an Ohio transplant who says she moved to L.A. a few months earlier after her boyfriend cheated on her and hasn’t made any friends yet. So she’s lonely and with low self-esteem, which should be a slam dunk for even a loser like Daniel.
But nope, just when you think his luck with the ladies is about to turn, this is what she unloads on him when he greets her before their first date:
She just straight up tells him she’s planning on getting back together with her cheating boyfriend back in Ohio, and like a typical AFC (“average frustrated chump” in pick-up artist parlance) he just immediately rolls over and agrees to be friends!
Yep, that’s what we think of when we picture our greatest heroes, someone who offers to split the check. Boyfriend back home or not, I bet Terry would have closed the deal and been dumping his own brand of toxic waste into Jessica’s Borneo pit in no time, if you get my very subtle drift.
Speaking of, eventually Terry insinuates himself into Daniel’s life since Miyagi won’t train him for the tournament for stupid moral reasons, even though Daniel only signed the contract agreeing to defend his title after Barnes and his goons threatened to toss him and Jessica off a cliff. For some reason calling the cops or filing a restraining order never seems to occur to Daniel even after Barnes karate kicks Jessica in the stomach, although I would have laughed my ass off if she ended up dating Barnes by the end.
Terry also apparently corrupts Daniel’s soul by teaching him techniques that appear to be actually useful for defending oneself. While Terry makes sure never to break character in front of Daniel, when his back is turned he can’t help but be delighted with himself, and I would be too if I was as awesome as Terry Silver:
Also Daniel gives his totally platonic girlfriend tickets to the hottest new dance club in town as a going-away present, and as you can see he gets the standard “I’m still not going to sleep with you” response in return:
Somehow I doubt seeing Daniel’s smooth moves on the dance floor is gonna give her a last-minute change of heart either:
At the club Terry shows up (seriously he really has abandoned his job and all other responsibilities since he is always near Daniel 24/7) and promises some kid like $50 to grossly hit on Jessica. An enraged Daniel breaks his nose and flees, which apparently is the last straw for Jessica, who is fine with being cheated on but not having her honor defended. Eventually she forgives Daniel after he pours out his heart to her in a conversation that looks really weird out of context:
After Daniel says goodbye and tells her that he’ll miss her, she pretty much confirms she’ll have forgotten about him in two days:
After realizing he doesn’t want to be the kind of guy people respect because he can stand up for himself, Daniel confronts Terry and discovers the truth (and it’s a good thing Daniel showed up at the old Cobra Kai dojo that night because otherwise Barnes and Kreese would have been hiding and waiting for nothing):
Finally, with less than 10 minutes left in this nearly TWO HOUR movie, Miyagi agrees to train Daniel in a very condensed montage because, uh, I guess he decided Daniel suffered enough? Seriously there was really no reason for this pointless conflict except the script required it. Actually I’m not even sure why Daniel needs Miyagi’s help so badly to begin with. It’s not like Miyagi is teaching him anything new, it’s just a rehash of the same basic crap Daniel mastered just a few months earlier.
Either way we at last get to the tournament and the long-awaited by no one LaRusso-Barnes match-up, and I’ll let these pictures tell the rest of they story:
Actually what really happens is that after being thoroughly outmatched by Barnes the entire tournament, Daniel of course wins at the last second after employing a finishing move that comes out of nowhere (I’m guessing it was one of the actually useful techniques Terry taught him rather than from Miyagi’s “here’s how household chores translates into karate” B.S.)
So I guess the implication is that with Daniel cementing himself as the absolute worst two-time All-Valley karate champion in history that Cobra Kai is finished, but I’m not sure why. As far as we know Terry will just buy up every dojo in California and turn Cobra Kai into a virtual monopoly, and I’m sure he’ll cook up another elaborate and time-consuming revenge plot against Daniel. Hell if we ever got a Silver-Kreese YouTube series I wouldn’t be shocked to discover that Terry eventually got himself elected President, appointed Kreese Secretary of War/Karate, and buried Daniel and Miyagi in a plutonium waste dump in the Congo.
Either way, let’s celebrate one last time the bond between Terry Silver and John Kreese, two men who should serve as friendship goals for all us:
Post Script: If you are a fan of “The Karate Kid” and “Rocky” you should check out the documentary “King of the Underdogs” about director John G. Avildsen. It doesn’t exactly sell its premise that the helmer of “Karate Kid III” and “Rocky V” should be considered in the league of Spielberg or Scorsese, but Avildsen is an engaging storyteller and the doc contains some great behind-the scenes footage of a young Macchio and Stallone. It is currently available on iTunes and Chassy.
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