Cobra Kai’s fourth season starts off kind of strange. We see a modern beachfront mansion, the kind of thing that Scrooge McDuck would own if he made his fortune in crytpo. There’s a man with shoulder-length grey hair playing a classical sonata on a grand piano in a red silk dressing gown. Isn’t this supposed to be a show about karate, and toxic masculinity, and Coors Banquet, but, who are we kidding, mostly karate? Why does it suddenly look like Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous? When the mystery man gets a call from John Kreese, the diabolical head of the Cobra Kai dojo, it begins to make a lot more sense.
But just who the hell is this guy? Even when Kreese gets to the aforementioned beachfront property, and we find out that it’s Terry Silver, plenty of fans who haven’t watched The Karate Kid Part III since it was in theaters 32 years ago may not remember who he is. Fans of Cobra Kai who have never watched the movie series will be completely at sea.
Luckily Cobra Kai is a show that loves flashbacks like The Rock loves twice-a-day workouts, and we immediately see Silver and Kreese saying, “Cobra Kia…Never Dies,” in the ill-fated third movie in the series, which was both a critical and commercial flop. If no one ever saw KKIII, then how the hell are we supposed to care about this dude? Cobra Kai fills in enough of the blanks that you don’t necessarily need to rewatch the 1989 bomb, but just in case you want the full story, here it is.
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Who is Terry Silver?The Karate Kid Part III starts off with Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) and Mr. Miyagi (Noriyuki “Pat” Morita) returning from his native Okinawa after the events of the second film. (Daniel is supposed to be 18 at the time even though Macchio was a rather mature 27.) Originally the film was supposed to be about Kreese’s revenge on the pair after they defeated him and Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) at the all-valley tournament the year before. However due to actor Martin Kove’s commitments to another film, his role had to be reduced.
Hence Terry Silver was born. The debut role for black belt Thomas Ian Griffith, Silver is introduced as Kreese’s old friend, Vietnam war buddy, and silent partner in owning and operating the Cobra Kai dojos. Kreese is going to leave town and leaves the now-defunct karate establishment in Silver’s psychotic hands.
Silver is sort of a cartoon of a rich dude, like, again, Scrooge McDuck if he was doing Patrick Bateman cosplay. He lives in a giant house that looks more like a Mayan temple than an actual domicile. He has a fleet of fancy vintage cars in his driveway and wears a tuxedo with his signature slicked-back ponytail. Most of all, he’s the kind of abhorrent capitalist who made his money dumping toxic waste around the planet (namely in Borneo, which is name-checked in Cobra Kai.) The most iconic scene of Silver is him laughing maniacally in his home steam room, wearing only a towel and holding a Zach Morris-sized antique cell phone.
Stream The Karate Kid Part III Here
Why does Terry Silver hate Daniel LaRusso?
The plot of The Karate Kid Part III makes less sense than an eject lever on a helicopter, which might be why it currently has a 13% on Rotten Tomatoes. Silver is pissed that LaRusso and Miyagi humiliated his old friend Kreese so he concocts a plan to get Mike Barnes (Sean Kanan), a midwestern Karate champ, to California to defeat Daniel-san in the All-Valley Karate Tournament. But Mr. Miyagi has convinced Daniel not to compete because he no longer has to defend his honor and should not use karate for his vanity.
Through a drawn-out intimidation campaign that involves Daniel and Mr. Miyagi’s new Bonsai store, and getting trapped in a rapidly filling tidal pool (seriously, this movie is ridiculous!) Daniel eventually signs up. That’s when Silver’s two-pronged approach kicks in, and he convinces Daniel to start training with him.
Silver’s techniques are much more aggressive than Miyagi’s (as fans will see in Season 4 of Cobra Kai), and he teaches Daniel the three D’s: desire, devotion, and discipline. “The first two I can’t give you. The third I can, but you have to receive it,” he tells Daniel. Yes, you’ll hear that line again. He teaches Daniel the “Silver Method” which teaches that if a man can’t stand, he can’t fight; if a man can’t breathe, he can’t fight; and if a man can’t see, he can’t fight. He has Daniel punching a wood and pipe dummy and teaches him morally suspect techniques and ways of flouting the rules that Mr. Miyagi would never stand for.
COURTESY OF NETFLIX
He also injures Daniel in the process, which seems to be part of this hare-brained plan. I mean, why not just douse the kid with toxic waste and call it a day? Daniel’s increased aggressiveness leads him to beat up a dude in a nightclub. When Daniel realizes he’s turned into a person he doesn’t like, he calls off his training, discovers that Silver and Kreese have been working together all along, and returns to train with Miyagi. I don’t need to tell you that he wins, because of course he does, dealing a death blow to Silver, Kreese, Cobra Kai dojo, and, sadly, this lucrative movie franchise.
Luckily, in Cobra Kai, Silver is less of the cartoonish evil-doer that he is in the movie, but he does display the same sly deception, still using his money to get what he wants just like he does when he was first introduced. The show offers enough flashbacks for everyone to get the gist, but there are definitely plenty of references to funny moments in the original film. This is enough for you to understand all the in-jokes so please, whatever you do, don’t feel like you need to watch this silly movie.
Brian Moylan is the New York Times best-selling author of _The Housewives: The Real Story Behind the Real Housewives and has written about television and pop culture for the New York Times, The Guardian, Vice, NBC News, and a few outlets that are NSFW.
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