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Film / The Karate Kid Part III

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All spoilers for The Karate Kid (1984) & The Karate Kid Part II will be unmarked. You Have Been Warned!
"Inside you have strong root. No need nothing except what inside you to grow."
Kreese: What about the old man?
Silver: Him I hurt through the kid. Johnny, by the time that little twerp steps into the ring to defend his title, I'm going to have him thinking he's invincible. And then he's going to find out what pain and fear really mean.

The third movie in The Karate Kid series, released in 1989.

One year after the first film, John Kreese has fallen on hard times after his humiliation at the 1984 All-Valley karate tournament. He orchestrates a plan with an old war buddy of his, Terry Silver, to revive the Cobra-Kai dojo by targeting both Daniel LaRusso and Mr. Miyagi. With Kreese remaining in the shadows, Silver manipulates Daniel into returning to the All-Valley tournament, setting him up to be humiliated by a new unstoppable combatant, Mike "Dynamite" Barnes.

The Karate Kid: Part III examples of:

  • All for Nothing: Silver, Kreese, Barnes, and Snake constantly physically and psychologically tormenting Daniel throughout the movie to utterly destroy him in the tournament before he is defeated is the plan... but Daniel ultimately wins the tournament in spite of it all. And Cobra Kai gets banned from tournament participation for the next 33 years (and it would have been permanent if it weren’t for Cobra Kai. )
  • Artistic License – Sports:
    • Per virtually any official karate tournament organization rules, there's no way Mike Barnes could get away with blatantly punching Daniel in the face between bouts. That is instant disqualification, with an indefinite ban for him and his dojo. Even simply yelling at Daniel when he was down would have gotten Barnes penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct. The first season of Cobra Kai ultimately reveals that indeed, the Cobra Kai Dojo received a lifetime ban.
    • No yearly sports event would give past victors a free ticket to the final rounds. This rule clearly exists just to skip a tournament montage in the third act.note  Sports in general can be brutal on athletes and any defending champion would have to prove their skill in the normal bracket (to say nothing of the unfair advantage a fresh and rested champion would have over an opponent who had been fighting qualifying matches all day). The only exception would be the likes of exhibition matches. Cobra Kai also realized the ridiculousness of this and reverted back to the rules of the first movie for the season 1 All-Valley, where Xander Stone is shown fighting in every round until Miguel drops him in the semi-finals.
  • Breaking Old Trends:
    • Similar to Ali and Kumiko, Jessica Andrews is set up as a love interest for Daniel. However, Jessica quickly makes up with her ex, so Daniel and Jessica remain Just Friends. The fifth season of Cobra Kai then establishes that she introduced Daniel to her cousin Amanda, whom he married and had two kids with.
    • By extension, Barnes, unlike Johnny and Chozen, is not Daniel's romantic rival and similarly has Nothing Personal against Daniel. Barnes is Only in It for the Money since beating Daniel in the tournament will earn him fifty percent of the Cobra Kai business.
    • Terry Silver isn't just the Evil Mentor to Daniel's rival; he's also the Evil Mentor to Daniel himself.
    • The kata form that Daniel learns is not much of an offensive technique in comparison to the Crane Kick or the Drum Punch. Daniel only uses it to distract Barnes before finishing him off with a regular karate throw.
  • Break the Haughty: Kreese is going through hard financial times at the beginning.
  • Break Them by Talking: Subverted. After Daniel gets out of his Heroic BSoD thanks to Miyagi knocking some sense into him, Barnes goes on to taunt Daniel, claiming that he's a fraud and that both his karate and Miyagi are full of shit. Daniel, however, doesn't allow the rant to faze him.
    "Come on, get up! Get on that line! Get on that line, LaRusso! You're worthless! Your slope teacher's nothing! Get up, man! You're no champion. Get up! You suck, LaRusso! You suck, man! And your teacher's karate is shit. You hear me? He's shit! You're done, LaRusso. Your karate is a joke. And your teacher's worth shit. He's nothing! He's nothing! And you're nothing! I own you! I own you, LaRusso! Where's your little Jap teacher now, huh? He's a phoney, man. He's a fake and he didn't teach you nothing. Your karate's shit. You hear me? Get up!"
  • Call-Back: Daniel uses the "drum technique" on the pads in his first training session with Terry Silver.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Daniel must rappel down a cliff to retrieve a valuable bonsai tree. Good thing his new girlfriend's hobby is mountain climbing.
  • Classy Cravat: Lord knows why, but Terry wears a cravat during the tournament at the end.
  • Companion Cube: When Jessica tells Daniel that the rope he's climbing with is his friend, Daniel jokes that he and the rope are more than friends, they're going steady.
  • Confusion Fu: Knowing that Cobra Kai neglects teaching kata, Daniel invokes this against Barnes by performing his kata. Barnes, who has never seen kata, has no idea what to do and is unwilling to attack Daniel even when Terry advises him to attack. By the time Daniel finishes his kata, he's completely focused whereas Barnes is absolutely psyched-out. Ironically, if only Cobra Kai taught kata, Mike would've been aware it was a throwing counter stance and he would've seen what was coming. It worked the same way the Crane Kick worked against Johnny Lawrence—they had no idea what to expect.
  • Continuity Snarl: When Daniel tells Mr. Miyagi he's going to Silver's dojo to tell him it's over, it's the middle of the night, but when he arrives it's the middle of the day judging by the light.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Hi again, Terry! Oh, and bonus: his company is called Dyna-Tox Industries. Yes, really. Their PR team must cry themselves to sleep every night!note 
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Miyagi manages to trounce Barnes, Kreese, and Silver in succession, all in literally one minute.
  • Denser and Wackier: While the first two films were Slice of Life sports films with a lot of drama and heart, the introduction of Terry Silver and the convoluted Evil Plan he hatches with Kreese are rather jarring in comparison.
  • Dick Dastardly Stops to Cheat: The plan to rejuvenate interest in Cobra Kai decides to focus exclusively on revenge against Daniel and Mr. Miyagi for their victory in the previous years All-Valley Tournament. This involves Kreese faking his death, regular harassment of the two, forcing Daniel to sign the entry form by threat of death and recruiting him for training that compromises his existing skill set. While at the tournament they have Barnes gain points and lose points to put it into sudden death for maximum drama, which only sets up Daniel's Sudden Death victory in a fight in which he had been completely outclassed, causing Cobra Kai to instantly lose all credibility and sponsorships. Any sane person would probably just, you know, use a new unstoppable student to sweep the tournament and leverage all that publicity to better enfranchise the dojo and not spend so much effort being a cartoon villain. Cobra Kai revealed that their actions in this film resulted in a lifetime tournament ban of Cobra Kai and any descendant dojos (due to Johnny's separation from Kreese, Silver and Barnes from the events of this film, he successfully acquired re-entry).
  • Drugs Are Bad: Terry Silver reveals in Cobra Kai that his entire revenge plot against Daniel was the result of a cocaine addiction.
  • Easily-Distracted Referee: The referee gives Barnes a warning no less than five times for illegal moves, even one in between rounds, and never disqualifies him. Twice he specifically says "Do that again, you're disqualified," but never follows through with enforcing the DQ. Given Silver's penchant for bribing referees in Cobra Kai it's possible this ref was also bribed, though the film itself doesn't imply this.
  • Exact Words: When Barnes initially confronts Daniel and clarifies that he needs his title of All-Valley Champion, Daniel tells him to enter the tournament and earn it himself. Then Barnes clarifies that it requires Daniel to participate as his financial future is on the line.
    Barnes: I need your title.
    Daniel: So, then, enter the tournament and go for it.
    Barnes: Maybe you didn't hear me; I need your title. You don't enter, then that affects my financial future, Daniel. And I'm not gonna let that happen, get it?
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Silver tries to brag, "You think this is the end of it, old man? I'm gonna open Cobra Kai dojos all over this valley. HELL, I MIGHT EVEN TEACH FOR FREE! FROM NOW ON, WHEN PEOPLE SAY KARATE AROUND HERE, ALL THEY'LL MEAN IS 'COBRA KAI' KARATE! JOHN KREESE'S KARATE! YOU WON'T EVEN BE A MEMORY!" Daniel shoots back, "Yes he will! You won't!" 33 years later, no one will even remember why Cobra Kai got blacklisted, and Daniel will reopen Miyagi-Do with free lessons.
    • Unfortunately, this trope eventually goes in favor with Silver, as by Cobra Kai season 5, he opens up multiple dojos in the wake of Cobra Kai's 51st All-Valley victory, against Daniel's Miyagi-Do nonetheless.
  • Greater-Scope Villain:
    • Terry is revealed to be this for the first movie, maybe even the whole trilogy, as he funded Cobra Kai for Kreese and allowed and encouraged him to run it any way he wanted to.
    • When Silver introduces himself to Daniel and Mr. Miyagi, he claims that he was a student of Kim Sun-Yung. It's understandable that Daniel (and even the audience as well) would assume it's complete and utter bullshit since Silver was feigning civility, but Cobra Kai Season 5 confirms Kim Sun-Yung is real, being Kreese and Silver's (as well as Captain Turner's) master, and the progenitor of "The Way of the Fist" style of karate — effectively making him the franchise's overarching antagonist.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Terry teaching Daniel the QuickSilver technique comes in very handy when Daniel takes Silver on himself 35 years later. Ending on Silver's defeat no less.
  • Inspirational Insult: Daniel gets up to face Barnes again after Barnes yells, "Your karate's shit. You're nothing. Your slope teacher's nothing!" This gives Daniel more motivation to win.
  • Ironic Echo: After Kreese is defeated, Silver starts mocking Mr. Miyagi with racist stereotypical sounds. Then Silver gets curb-stomped by Mr. Miyagi, who makes the same stereotypical sounds back to him.
  • Irony: When teaching Daniel, Silver mentions that kata’s not going to win him the tournament after Daniel answers Silver’s question of what Mr. Miyagi taught him. Fast forward to the All-Valley, and Daniel uses kata enough for Mike Barnes to be distracted so that the former could be prepared to make the finishing blow and win the tournament.
  • Just Friends: Daniel initally has a crush on Jessica, but after she explains that she already has a boyfriend, they agree to be this.
  • Karma Houdini: Downplayed. Silver's sum punishment for all the trouble he caused is having his fighter lose a tournament. Sure, he got smacked around by Miyagi at one point, but he should be facing some serious criminal charges for his orchestrations. However, it's implied, though not stated outright, during his speech before the tournament that he had just paid a handsome sum to open up new Cobra Kai dojos for the anticipated swarm of new students that would come after his champion won the tournament. But then Barnes lost, the crowd threw back the Cobra Kai t-shirts they'd been given, and (by the time of Cobra Kai) the school itself is all but forgotten in the area, so that handsome sum Silver fronted went down the toilet. However, Silver is never shown receiving any personal comeuppance or karma for his role in the affair (unlike Kreese, who got reduced to homelessness in the time leading up to Cobra Kai).
    • In an deleted scene from Season 4 of Cobra Kai, Silver said he lost Dyna Tox and a lot of his fortune in the wake of the events of 1985, but was able to rebuild his wealth by investing in start-ups.
  • Kick the Dog: Like most Karate Kid villains, Mike Barnes does all manner of petty, cruel things to Daniel. Same goes for Terry Silver, to a much greater extent.
  • Lending a Backhand: Terry Silver offers to train Daniel. During the training, he gets Daniel to cause himself physical harm by punching boards and steers Daniel away from Mr Miyagi's teaching, all to separate him from his support group and make him weaker for the showdown with Bad Boy Barnes.
  • Motive Decay: Terry does what he does out of friendship and loyalty to his friend, John Kreese. The opening scenes of the movie actually do a good job of driving this home. Yet he's the one who comes up with the idea of completely destroying Daniel and Miyagi, and his motivation ends up devolving completely into this.
  • Nice Guy: Miyagi is this, remaining calm in the face of provocation, embracing a Martial Pacifist lifestyle (and therefore fighting only when he has to), and unwilling to start a business with the money for Daniel's college education.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: So most of the plot involves Silver and Barnes scheming to revive Cobra Kai... by manipulating Daniel to fight in the tournament against his own wishes. If they had simply left Daniel alone, he and Mr. Miyagi would have moved on with their lives, Barnes would have won the tournament, and Cobra Kai would again be #1 in the valley in the face of Barnes' victory. But no, instead they had to keep attacking Daniel, which ultimately backfired so spectacularly that their dojo was banned and all but forgotten by the time of Cobra Kai. Peak Revenge Before Reason here.
  • No, You: Silver boasts that he's gonna make Kreese's karate the most iconic one, and that Mr. Miyagi won't even be a memory. Daniel retorts that Mr. Miyagi will be a memory, and it's Silver who won't.
  • Not the Intended Use: Kata in Real Life and in the movie are for practicing karate techniques and movement, but Daniel uses kata in the middle of his fight against Barnes as a form of Confusion Fu.
  • Obviously Evil: Terry. They have multiple scenes entirely dedicated to piling on gratuitous For the Evulz moments for the guy. He's an obnoxious rich guy who dumps toxic waste wherever he can get away with it, bribes judges, makes sure to hire "Karate's Bad Boy" and is in touch with local "bad boys" to hook him up with his mooks. Oh, and he wants to destroy the lives of a kid and an elderly man because they inadvertently humiliated his friend Kreese when the latter tried to destroy their lives. Throw in the ponytail, and he's basically live action Looten Plunder.
  • Opposed Mentors: Daniel picks up Terry Silver as an Evil Mentor after an argument with Miyagi.
  • Ordered Apology: Subverted. Kim Sun-Yung, the master of Kreese and Silver, supposedly demanded that Silver apologize to Mr. Miyagi for Kreese's actions during the 1984 All-Valley Tournament, but this claim was part of a hoax fabricated by Silver to damage Miyagi-Do Karate's image and drive a wedge between Daniel and Mr. Miyagi.
  • Police Are Useless: At one point, Daniel reports Mike and his thugs to the cops. It doesn't help. Daniel tells Jessica that the police laughed at him, which seems odd since Mike and his two thugs broke into Miyagi's shop, and beat both Daniel and Jessica.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Terry and Mike both refer to Miyagi as a "slope" for that extra touch of asshole cred.
  • Revenge Before Reason: Terry Silver and John Kreese may talk about restoring the Cobra Kai Dojo to its former glory, but their desire to humiliate Daniel and Mr. Miyagi speaks louder.
  • Revisiting the Roots: After the second film took Daniel to Okinawa and focused more on Mr. Miyagi's backstory, this movie goes back to the rivalry with Cobra Kai and the All-Valley Karate Tournament.
  • Role-Ending Misdemeanor: In-Universe, Cobra Kai are given a lifetime ban from tournament participation for the antics of Kreese, Silver and Barnes.
  • Sequel Escalation: Inverted. While the second film took Daniel to a foreign land and a fight for his life, the third takes him back to the same tournament he already won in the first film and gives him a pass straight to the final round.
  • Sore Loser:
    • Barnes throws a fit after he loses to Daniel in the All Valley Karate Tournament.
    • The entire plot of this movie happens because Kreese can never just accept a loss (be it in a tournament or in a personal altercation with Mr. Miyagi) and move on.
  • Step Three: Profit: Even if Barnes had beaten Daniel, his star pupil being a bullying thug would've sunk Silver's new Cobra Kai before the doors opened. Though it's clear Silver couldn't give a crap about the money.
  • Teach Him Anger: Part of Terry's "Quick Silver" training regimen. He teaches Daniel not just to react or defend, but to strike first and be willing to do what it takes to win.
  • Toxic, Inc.: Terry's company — DynaTox Industries — deals in the disposal of toxic waste. Given the amount of money he makes off of it, he gets away with dumping it anywhere, having bought out anyone who could really do anything about it.
  • Training from Hell:
    • Silver makes Daniel undergo a series of brutal training exercises which involve offensive and violent techniques; the frustration Daniel accumulates from said training causes him to become distanced from Miyagi.
    • Exploited by Silver. He teaches Daniel to be more aggressive and trains to what would specifically work in tournaments and formal competitions specifically because it goes against what Mr. Miyagi's style of karate stands for. Silver is also Barnes' coach and is telling him everything he's teaching Daniel, and so the techniques he teaches Daniel, while legitimate and effective, will be seen coming a mile away. The bad guys' intended result will be that Daniel will willingly put himself through intensely painful training and alienate himself from his beloved mentor in pursuit of winning the tournament, but will still lose completely because his training is useless against an opponent who knows what to expect.
  • True Companions: Despite his villainous tendencies, Terry is incredibly loyal to Kreese. When Kreese arrives at Silver's mansion to drop off the keys to the Cobra Kai dojo, Silver presumes that Kreese wants to move in and seems to be in support of it. When Kreese tells him that he's leaving the city due to being shamed, Silver then tells him not to worry about the dojo (telling him that the money he pays for the rent is functionally meaningless), and then sends him on a trip to Tahiti to clear his head. Silver is the head of a multi-million dollar corporation, but he drops everything to invest huge amounts of money and his own time to help Kreese with his vendetta.
  • Unseen No More: A few characters mentioned here make their physical introductions in Cobra Kai Season 5.
    • Kim Sun-Yung, who's name was dropped by Silver when he introduces himself to Daniel and Mr. Miyagi. Considering Silver was pretending to be nice to the Miyagi-Do practicioners the whole time, it's understandable that Daniel would assume everything Silver said was bullshit after the latter revealed his true colors. Then Chozen reveals to Daniel that Kim Sun-Yung was real the whole time, with Sun-Yung himself finally making his first on-screen appearance in a flashback where he trains a young Kreese and Silver.
    • Elizabeth-Anne Rooney, who Jessica badmouths because she stole her boyfriend. Lizzie-Anne makes her grand appearance when Amanda reunites with Jessica in Ohio, and boy does she live up to the shit talk from Jessica, even 34 years later.
  • Unsportsmanlike Gloating: Parodied by Miyagi, of all people! After handily taking down the Big Bad Duumvirate of Barnes, Kreese and Silver, Miyagi mocks Silver's ridiculous kiais. To be fair, Silver was the one who mocked this first at Miyagi.
  • Violently Protective Girlfriend: Gender inverted, as Daniel breaks a guy's nose in a dance club for harassing his friend Jessica. Daniel quickly regrets it.
  • Written-In Absence: Daniel's mother couldn't appear in this movie (beyond one cameo early on) because she went back to New Jersey to help a sick relative.

"Daniel-san, your best karate is still inside you. Now time let out!"