The fourth season of Cobra Kai gets off to an unusual beginning. This ultra-modern seaside villa is exactly what Scrooge McDuck would buy with his crypto riches. A man with grey hair past his shoulders sits at a grand piano, dressed only in a scarlet silk robe, and plays a classical sonata.
This show seems to be about karate, toxic masculinity, and Coors Banquet, but let’s be honest: it’s really just about karate. Why does it feel like an episode of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous all of a sudden? A phone call from John Kreese, the evil leader of the Cobra Kai dojo, helps the mystery guy piece together what has been going on.
But who the heck is this individual, anyway? When Kreese finally arrives at the aforementioned beachside home, and we learn that it’s Terry Silver, many viewers may not recognize him because they haven’t seen The Karate Kid Part III since it was released in theatres 32 years ago. Those who are familiar with video games but not films will be lost.
Thankfully, the third movie in the series, which was a critical and commercial failure, was a flashback episode, and we instantly saw Silver and Kreese proclaiming, “Cobra Kia…Never Dies.” There’s no reason to worry about KKIII if nobody’s ever seen him. Cobra Kai provides enough backstory that you probably won’t need to revisit the 1989 classic, but if you’re curious, here it is.
Who Is Terry Silver?
The events of the second film have left Mr. Miyagi in Okinawa, and the third installment of The Karate Kid begins with Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) and Mr. Miyagi (Noriyuki “Pat” Morita) returning from there. (Daniel is supposed to be 18 at the time even though Macchio was a pretty mature 27.) The film was intended to be about Kreese getting revenge on the pair for beating him and Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) in the all-valley tournament the previous year.
Sadly, Martin Kove’s involvement had to be cut because of his prior commitments to another production. So came into the world, Terry Silver. Black belt Thomas Ian Griffith makes his acting debut as Silver, Kreese’s longtime friend and silent business partner in the Cobra Kai dojos. Silver and Kreese served together in Vietnam. Kreese is leaving town, leaving Silver, a psychopath, in charge of the now-defunct karate dojo.
Silver is a rich guy cartoonishly depicted as if he were Patrick Bateman, much like Scrooge McDuck would be if he were to dress as Bateman. His enormous home resembles a Mayan temple more than a typical residence. His driveway is filled with expensive classic cars, and he always appears in a tuxedo with his hair slicked back in his trademark ponytail.
The most memorable image of Silver is him laughing hysterically in his home steam room, naked and holding a Zach Morris–sized antique cell phone. Silver is the type of despicable capitalist who made his money dumping toxic waste around the world (specifically in Borneo, which is mentioned in Cobra Kai).
Why does Terry Silver hate Daniel LaRusso?
Perhaps the film’s current 13% score on Rotten Tomatoes is a reflection of its illogical plot, which is comparable to that of an eject lever on a helicopter. Silver devises a scheme to bring Mike Barnes (Sean Kanan), a karate champion from the Midwest, to California so that he may beat Daniel-san in the All-Valley Karate Tournament because he is furious that LaRusso and Miyagi insulted his old friend Kreese.
Now that Daniel no longer has to defend his honor, Mr. Miyagi has convinced him not to compete in karate so that he can focus on improving his own self-image. Eventually, after being stranded in a fast-filling tidal pool (really, this movie is insane!) and enduring a lengthy intimidation campaign involving Daniel and Mr. Miyagi’s new Bonsai business, Daniel signs up.
Silver’s two-pronged strategy of persuasion kicks in at this point, and he successfully recruits Daniel as a training partner. As viewers of Season 4 of Cobra Kai will discover, Silver’s methods are far more forceful than Miyagi’s. He teaches Daniel the three D’s of martial arts: desire, devotion, and discipline.
Those first two answers are off-limits. The third, he assures Daniel, “I can do, but you have to take it in. The same line will be repeated, unfortunately. He instructs Daniel in the “Silver Method,” which holds that a man is helpless in battle if he is unable to maintain his balance and maintain his breathing, and circulation.
The instructor makes Daniel practice hitting a dummy made of wood and pipe and instructs him to break regulations and engage in behavior that Mr. Miyagi would consider immoral. As part of this ridiculous scheme, he also manages to hurt Daniel. Why not just dump some poisonous garbage on the kid and be done with it?
As a result of his heightened aggression, Daniel ends up beating up a guy in a club. Daniel stops training with Miyagi after realizing he’s become someone he doesn’t like. He later learns that Silver and Kreese have been working together the whole time. You already know he triumphs; he strikes the final blow to Silver, Kreese, the Cobra Kai, and the franchise’s box office success.
Thankfully, Silver is less of a cartoonish villain in Cobra Kai than he is in the film. However, he still uses his money to manipulate people and achieve his goals, much as he did at the beginning of the film. There are enough flashbacks to ensure that viewers aren’t lost, but there are also enough allusions to the film’s comedic high points. That’s all you need to know to get all the inside jokes, so there’s no need to waste your time watching that stupid movie.