Kreese's return would add more dynamism to the second season of 'Cobra Kai,' says creator Josh Heald
In an exclusive with MEAWW, one of the creators of the show talks about Kreese's character from 'The Karate Kid' and how he sets up the second season of 'Cobra Kai.'
CONTAINS SPOILERS FROM 'COBRA KAI' SEASON 1
"We do not train to be merciful here. Mercy is for the weak! Here, in the streets, in competition. A man confronts you, he is the enemy. An enemy deserves no mercy."- Sensei John Kreese.
Probably, the most ruthless teacher one can ask for, Kreese was the main antagonist in 'The Karate Kid,' (1984) and returned in 'The Karate Kid III' (1989), known for instilling a shoot-first, ask-questions-later characteristic in his students. He was deeply responsible for ingraining the dojo's creed of 'Strike First. Strike Hard. No Mercy,' -- one that changed many of his wards to be more violent versions of themselves on the mats as well as on the streets.
Played by Martin Kove, Kreese's character plays a pivotal role in shaping the mindset of a young Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka), his student with a troubled family background. In the first movie, Johnny is seen as Kreese's pride and greatest student, one who would be the torch-bearer of the Cobra Kai in the future. Fate though, had a different plan, when he loses the final battle against Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio), the protagonist, in the All Valley Tournament.
Kreese, on his part, takes the loss personally after his futile attempts to play dirty during the course of the tournament and in the final match. Such was the sadistic trait of the man that he berates Johnny by breaking his trophy and attacking him physically, before losing all his students.
While this was Kreese in 'The Karate Kid' -- a man with some breath-taking anger management issues and some cocky attitude, he is shown to be a down-and-out character in the final installment of the movie franchise. Unpaid bills, the closure of the dojo and a severely dented pride to go with it, he seeks help from his war buddy, Terry Silver (Thomas Ian Griffith), who offers to take out LaRusso and Mr. Miyagi, who eventually fails to beat the duo as well.
Coming back to the present (Cobra Kai), Johnny Lawrence is now a successful sensei who has reopened the Cobra Kai dojo. He's got a star student and a bunch of eager wards who train religiously under his tutelage. And just when it looks like things are shaping up well for a distraught Johnny, Kreese is shown to return in the final episode after being presumed dead setting the viewers up for an exciting second season.
Talking about Kreese's return, Josh Heald, one of the creators of 'Cobra Kai' along with Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg, said that re-introducing a character like Kreese was to 'upset the applecart.'
"Kreese has been an impactful character in Johnny's life and is a powerful figure in the series. Him being back in the fold would add so much more dynamism to the series."
Impactful and dynamic he is, as Kreese comes in as a character with a long history. From a man with some war experience (remember the framed picture of him in military fatigues during the Vietnam war), who has natural hate towards Asians (He calls Mr. Miyagi 'a slope'), he comes across as a man who hates to be defeated, and stoop to any lengths to exact revenge.
And it's not hard to see why. For a man who has fired bullets and has dodged them, survival is the end goal, and sometimes, to survive means using desperate methods to make it out in one piece. If it means looking at your opponent as an enemy who needs no mercy, it's not hard to imagine if we put ourselves in Kreese's shoes.
The only plus for Kreese, as Jon Hurwitz puts it, is that he is passionate about his karate and is a firm believer in all of Cobra Kai's principles. "Kreese has had a long history. He co-founded Cobra Kai, had some war experience, has faced a lot of challenges in his life. He is a man who wants to stay in control."
And his presence at the end of season 1 suggests exactly that. Clearly, there is a stark contrast in the way Johnny imparts his karate as opposed to Kreese. While Kreese is someone who would go for the kill sensing an opportunity, without sparing a thought for what happens next, Johnny looks at his opponent as a human and not a punching bag.
What role does Kreese play in 'Cobra Kai' Season 2? Will his appearance be a one-time affair or is he here to stay and try to take back what was rightfully his?
Guess we'll only know the story behind Kreese's return when 'Cobra Kai' Season 2 premieres on April 24 on YouTube Premium.