In the 1984 martial arts film The Karate Kid, ruthless Vietnam veteran John Kreese (Martin Kove) has a distaste for Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita). After the Okinawa-born sensei saved Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) from Kreese’s students after the Halloween dance, he visits the Cobra Kai dojo.
Upon his arrival, Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) informs his sensei that Miyagi caused his injuries. Kreese confronts the maintenance man about his actions.
“I heard you jumped some of my students last night,” says Kreese with his arms crossed. Miyagi attempts to correct him, but Kreese comes to Johnny’s defense.
Eventually, the two karate instructors come to the agreement that the Cobra Kai students will put a pause on tormenting Daniel if he enters the 1984 All-Valley Tournament.
In The Karate Kid Part II, Miyagi and Kreese get into an altercation. The Cobra Kai instructor verbally berates and chokes Johnny for coming in second place during the All-Valley championship. Miyagi intervenes, and Kreese lunges at him. Daniel’s sensei dodges the blows, causing his adversary to punch through car windows, severely injuring his hands.
Martin Kove Has Spoken About His Relationship With Pat Morita
With Kreese having such contempt for Miyagi, some fans may be curious how the actors who portrayed the characters felt about each other in real life.
According to Kove, he had a wonderful relationship with Morita, who passed away in 2005. ABC News reported that during a 2014 Comic-Con panel, he described his late co-star as being “so much fun.”
“We would see each other about twice a year after the movie. He was just rich and fun and hysterical… He was just steadfast and strong, he was terrific. It’s a shame that a man like that has to go,” said Kove.
The actor shared some similar information about Morita in a March 2019 interview on the Collider podcast.
“Pat helped me with the audition process [for The Karate Kid], and then we would have so much fun because he was always laughing,’ said Kove.
He went on to say that even though Morita did not have a background in the martial arts, he convincingly portrayed a karate master.
“He was not a black belt but he made it work with the warmth and vulnerability that he projected,” explained the 74-year-old.
Kove noted that he enjoyed the professional and personal aspects of his relationship with Morita.
“For years later once or twice a year we would all get together and we would have a drink at Universal or whatever and you know, just chat about the show,” said the actor.
He revealed he did not “spend a lot of time” with Morita on the set of The Karate Kid, as they were “trained separately.”
Kove Commented on Whether Morita Would Have Liked ‘Cobra Kai’
Later in the interview, Kove also asserted that he believed Morita and the film’s producer Jerry Weintraub, who died in 2015, would have been fans of Cobra Kai.
“I think Pat and Jerry would have really enjoyed the show because of the writing. It addresses so much and it addresses the characters in a reality,” said the actor.
To see more of Kove, be sure to watch Cobra Kai, available on Netflix.