The scene that single-handedly ended The Karate Kid trilogy happened in a side room in the Cobra Kai dojo, during a one-sided fight between Danny LaRusso and... a scarecrow-karate-sparring-dummy made of 2x4s and iron pipes? Unclear. Danny's with the Big Bad of The Karate Kid: Part III, Terry Silver (posing as a do-gooding karate sensei to Danny), who, somehow, convinces him that punching the scarecrow-karate-sparring-dummy until his hands bleed will prepare him for victory in the next All Valley Karate Tournament.
"WAKE UP AND SMELL THE COFFEE, MR. LARUSSO!" Silver screams, ponytail whipping around like it wants to detach itself and not be associated with the movie. "LAST TIME YOU WEREN'T FIGHTING THIS!"
No shit. Thomas Ian Griffith, who played Silver in the much-maligned The Karate Kid III, delivered a performance so chaotic that Hollywood stopped making Danny LaRusso-Mr. Miyagi Karate Kid movies. The guy might have sincerely believed that when he showed up to set on day one of filming, his call sheet read: TOMMY DEVITO: GOODFELLAS. Which is why—if you're a fan of The Karate Kid's sequel TV series, Cobra Kai—you might be a little concerned right now. The new season writes a backstory for Silver's broship with fellow baddie John Kreese, who, in final episode, presumably makes a call to the 6'5, ponytailed, terminally bug-eyed harbinger of chaotic evil. Meaning we just might see Silver return to the Cobra Kai dojo in Season Four.
You might be able to tell by now: I'm not smellin' any of the coffee Silver is brewing. But if he shows up in Cobra Kai, which is fueled by the same zany-meta-extra-as-hell energy that had him inside of a sauna, screaming into a ginormous '80s cell phone in The Karate Kid Part III? He'll be the best villain Cobra Kai has ever had.
First, you need to know a little bit more about Silver and The Karate Kid: Part III. Danny LaRusso's back from Okinawa, it's about that time of year—the All-Valley Karate Tournament is about to sweep the Valley once again—and there's a new villain in town. It's John Kreese's old Vietnam War buddy, Silver. Turns out this is the guy who funded the Cobra Kai dojo in the first place. (Silver is the CEO of a nuclear waste disposal company called DynaTox Industries. Which... okay. Sure. Hall pass for being '80s cinema.) This guy wants to help out Kreese and rid this kid Danny of the Valley, you know, so he recruits some other karate kid named Mike Barnes to face Danny in the tournament. In the meantime, he'd try to recruit Danny to Cobra Kai, where he'd train him so hard that he'd be beaten and bruised come tournament time.
Which is all good and well. Could've made for an OK movie. Except, yeah: Griffith may have believed that he showed up to a different set.
There are few evil, maniacal villain laughs that are so extreme that it makes you laugh as soon as you hear it. Silver's is one of them. He doesn't talk, so much as he shouts. Silver's plans are slightly questionable and extremely comic-book villain. (Scarecrow-karate-sparring-dummy, remember?) HUH-HEY! JOHNNAY JOHNNAY JOHNNAY! Don't make me bring up the fight with Mr. Miyagi. Or Tahiti. Already wrote about the sauna and the cell phone. Here's another fun line that pretty much gets to Silver's methodology: "When I'm finished with that kid, he'll be begging me to be his teacher! And you know what he's going to learn from me? Pain in every part of his body, and fear in every part of his mind! And here's the kicker: he's going to thank me for it!"
Now, let's talk about Cobra Kai for a second. People love this show because it's in on the joke. Meaning: The show makes fun of over-the-top, Coors Banquet-guzzling, one-line-threat-making '80s Big Bads like Johnny Lawrence and John Kreese. Cobra Kai understands that those guys are part of a lost era of action-movie villainy that we can look back on and kindly roast. That said, you'd be hard-pressed to find a guy more susceptible to a drop-kick of Cobra Kai's humor than Terry Silver. The guy's a walking '80s villain algorithm. Doesn't this line from The Karate Kid: Part III sounds like it was written for laughs in Cobra Kai? "Ten years ago, nuclear was the preferred waste. You could dump it anywhere! Now everybody's a detective. I'm lucky if I make one deal a YEAR without being indicted!" Seriously, Cobra Kai? Bring Silver on. Let him infect Demetri with a hefty dose of chaotic evil and make him the greatest villain The Karate Kid universe has ever seen.
One last thing, more important than all of this: Will Thomas Ian Griffith don the ponytail again? If he does, will it be a silver fox situation? How long will it be? And will he repeat any of his Terry Silverisms to grown-up Danny? A nomination, if I may.
"WAKE UP AND SMELL THE COFFEE MR. LARUSSO!"
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