John Kreese is one of those characters you hate for good reason but love because the actors behind them are so talented they make you hate who they play. Played by Martin Kove, 1984’s The Karate Kid saw Kreese instruct Johnny (William Zabka) to sweep Daniel LaRusso’s (Ralph Macchio) leg during the All Valley Karate Tournament. At that point, there was every reason to hate on Kreese.
I've been watching a ton of interviews from Cobra Kai, and I'll tell you I despise John Kreese but I absolutely LOVE @MartinKove . Seems like an awesome guy, and definitely a great actor!
— N3KO (Nick) (@ManekiN3ko) January 20, 2021
His story in Cobra Kai doesn’t fall far from the same tree––we still hate him. But time and time again, he proves to be one of the most complex bad guys in the history of bad guys. Just imagine Thanos but in karate.
The first two seasons of Netflix’s fiction series, however, have given so much depth to Kreese who has been painted into the gray area of bullies. The third season of Cobra Kai flaunted the early life of Kreese––a young Kreese played by Barrett Carnahan.
“After you see what happens to [Kreese] in this season, you come to understand that what this guy has seen and what he has experienced could potentially brand you for life,” Carnahan stated. “If you’re in a situation where you know that danger could be lurking around the corner, or your life or somebody’s life that you care about could be in danger, you’re not going to take that opportunity to hesitate, you’re going to strike first, with no mercy.”
“Kreese says it himself in Episode 2,” Carnahan says. “‘Sometimes life can be cruel, so you need to learn to be cruel yourself,’ And that really sums it all up for Kreese.“
The streaming giant’s series has been getting comfortable with giving their baddies a strange change of heart. I mean, we all thought that Johnny Lawrence would be unlikable––but alas, how the tables have turned. If anything, a developing story arc is still possible for Kreese––and so is hope.
Carnahan says it himself:
“I don’t think Kreese is a bad guy, I think he’s just misunderstood,” Carnahan says. “He’s done some bad things, but I think there’s still a chance for redemption. I hope.“
Either way, enjoy the third season of Cobra Kai on Netflix now! One of the best fiction series on the platform!