Ranking the Karate Kid Villains

Posted on April 22, 2011


Check out my guest contribution on educlaytion.com as part of his panel of awesome discussing the 1980s best movie villains.  I selected Kreese, Johnny’s karate Sensei in The Karate Kid as the best villain and make a case for him as the movie’s true villain over Johnny.  Read my guest contribution, and then come back here for additional Karate Kid and movie villain enlightenment.

If you’ve seen Karate Kid one time, I bet you’ll remember Johnny as the chief villain.
If you’ve seen Karate Kid many times, I bet you’ll know Kreese was the chief villain because you recognize Miyagi’s adage, “No bad student, only bad teacher.”
If you’ve seen Karate Kid zero times, I bet you don’t care.

I would rank The Karate Kid villains in the following order of villainy:

1. Kreese–taught children to strike first, strike hard, show no mercy.  His hair is also excessively curly.  Curly hair doesn’t make you a bad person, but I suspect his curl is of the perm variety, and the jury is still out on whether guys with perms are bad people.

2. Cobra Kai parents–when those moms stopped at the grocery store bulletin board and saw Kreese’s Show No Mercy Karate flyer, what was it in the ad that caught their eye?  “I’ll teach your children to show no mercy and punch everything in sight, including short, elderly Japanese men.”

3. Dutch–played by Steve McQueen’s real life son.  Kept trying to assert himself as an even bigger bully than Johnny, even though he had no horse in the beating up Daniel race. Daniel tried to concentrate his energy on Johnny, and then Dutch would jump out and pretend the bad blood was between Daniel and Dutch.  I wish Daniel had said, “Which bully are you again?  Remind me of your name.”

4. Kreese’s wife–never seen onscreen, never mentioned, actually no evidence he had a wife. But if he did, I’m sure she was a terrible person.

5. Vin Diesel—not in the movie, but a terrible, terrible actor.

6. Tommy–very weaselly looking.  Yells my favorite Karate Kid line, “Put him in a body bag, Johnny!” followed by a high-pitched giggle.  Any true Karate Kid fan can imitate this giggle.

7. Johnny–bullied Daniel, but in his defense he did warn Daniel to mind his own business multiple times when Daniel interrupted and inserted himself into Johnny’s argument with Ali, forcing Johnny to teach Daniel a three month lesson on the dangers of interrupting.

8. Daniel’s mom–inattentive, and drives a station wagon that stalls while chauffeuring Daniel on a date.

9. The soccer coach who kicked Daniel out of tryouts—Daniel’s crane kick could have won you the state soccer championship, you fool!

10. Freddy Fernandez—Daniel’s friend for one day until Daniel gets beat up on the beach, and Freddy leaves him there, effectively saying, “Sorry man, when we hit it off earlier and decided to be friends, I didn’t know you were gonna get beat up and stuff.”

11. Ali’s friends Susan and Barbara–incredibly snobbish and never in a clever way.  I don’t like snobby, but I’ll give a point or two if you can turn a phrase well.  Susan and Barbara are oblivious to the fact they aren’t pretty enough and don’t dress well enough to be so snobbish.

12. Friend of Freddy’s at the beach, friend of Daniel’s for about two hours—after Daniel gets beaten up, Freddy’s friend says sarcastically, “You sure pick cool friends, Freddy.”  Yeah, Freddy, pick some friends who don’t choose to get themselves beaten up.

13. Ali–Daniel, all you know about her is her last boyfriend is a bully, and her best friends are terrible.  She’s not a good judge of character, and you need to look in the mirror and ask what it means that she chose you.

14. Kids at beginning of movie who chase after Daniel’s car waving good-bye as he moves from New Jersey–these kids set a bad example by carelessly running into the street without looking both ways.

15. Old lady sitting in chair by swimming pool at beginning of movie—does nothing sinister in the movie, but brings down energy of the movie by reminding us we’ll all get old one day.

16. Daniel–invited bullying by not being richer and not dressing better.

17. Mr. Miyagi–for saying the crane kick, if done correctly, was indefensible, although it was defended successfully all fifty times I’ve tried it.

Let me know in the comments section if I’ve forgotten anybody.
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Posted in: Columns