Tuesday, May 11, 2021

The insult in Cobra Kai that means more than you think

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In the second episode of Cobra Kai season 2, “Back in Black,” John Kreese (Martin Kove) pops by Daniel’s dojo to intimidate him with a “friendly” chat. Though the old master is clearly the scarier person in the conversation, he seems slightly taken aback when Daniel casually asks him how his knuckles are doing. As Cobra Kai executive producer Hayden Schlossberg told Entertainment Weekly, this is because the seemingly throwaway line is a very cool callback to The Karate Kid Part II. 

In the movie, Kreese violently chastises Johnny on the parking lot after his former favorite student lost to Daniel’s infamous crane kick. Fortunately for everyone involved (except Kreese), Mr. Miyagi (Noriyaki “Pat” Morita) stops the scene. When the angry Kreese unwisely attempts to beat Miyagi up, the Okinawan karate master handily dodges the blows — which causes Kreese to punch through car windows, injuring both of his fists. It’s an embarrassing and humbling defeat, and the scene also finally reveals the Cobra Kai sensei’s true colors to his students, who subsequently walk away from him. As such, this may very well be the worst single moment in Kreese’s life, and Daniel invoking it is just about the biggest insult he could hurl at the guy.

With his role in The Karate Kid and on the Cobra Kai series, Kreese is a truly irredeemable figure and arguably the biggest villain of the entire Karate Kid franchise. It’s neat that Daniel takes a moment to remind him about the time he was well and truly put to his place.

Cobra Kai season 3 spin-kicks its way to Netflix in January 2021.

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