Camp Pendleton Welcomes ‘Karate Kid’ and ‘Cobra Kai’ Legend Martin Kove

Martin Kove Cobra Kai Camp Pendleton
Martin Kove talks with Marines at the 62 Area motor transportation pool on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Mar. 9, 2022. Kove, the actor who played John Kreese in the Karate Kid franchise, came onto base to do a meet and greet with the Marines in the 62 Area. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Andrew Cortez)

Martin Kove is best known as the actor who played Vietnam War veteran John Kreese in the original "Karate Kid" movies and returned decades later to reprise the role on the hit Netflix television series, "Cobra Kai."

Kove paid a visit to Camp Pendleton on March 10, 2022, and got a warm welcome from the Marines, even though everyone who watches knows Kreese was an Army soldier and not a Marine. The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that Kove signed 789 photos in just two hours.

The actor enjoyed his time on the base, telling the Union-Tribune that "I learned so much about the Marines." Kove was impressed with the "level of humility I experienced with these people who put their lives on the line -- and are ready to go (to war) at any time."

Kreese was the villain in the original 1984 movie, "The Karate Kid." While serving in the special forces during the Vietnam War, Kreese also became the karate champion of the United States Army. After completing his service, he returns to Los Angeles and opens his own dojo called Cobra Kai.

Kreese encourages his students to harass local kid Daniel LaRusso. Daniel finds a mentor in Mr. Miyagi, who trains him to take on Kreese's students in a local tournament. Kreese spends the next two movies in the series trying to get revenge on Daniel and Mr. Miyagi.

More than three decades later, Kreese returns in the final episode of the first season of "Cobra Kai" and goes on to be a major character in seasons 2-4. Kreese and Kove are now more popular than ever.

Kove is one of those actors who keeps working even if he's never quite broken through to stardom before now. Before "The Karate Kid," he had a high-profile role as Nero the Hero in 1975's drive-in trash classic, "Death Race 2000." Afterwards, he played Ericson in "Rambo: First Blood Part II" and Victor Isbecki on the TV series, "Cagney & Lacey." He's never stopped working, racking up well over 200 acting credits as a guest star on TV shows and in a lot of straight-to-video action pictures.

Now he's more famous than ever.

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