Martin Kove

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Martin Kove
Martin Kove (44524134200).jpg
Kove at the Louisville Supercon in 2018
Born1945/1946 (age 74–75)
OccupationActor, martial artist
Years active1971–present

Martin Kove (born 1945/1946[1]) is an American actor and martial artist, best known for The Karate Kid (1984), in which he played John Kreese, the head teacher of the Cobra Kai karate dojo. He reprised the role in two sequels, The Karate Kid Part II (1986) and The Karate Kid Part III (1989) as well as the 2018 television sequel series Cobra Kai. He also appeared as Nero the Hero in Death Race 2000 (1975), and afterward as Clem in White Line Fever (1975). He appeared in the TV series Cagney and Lacey (1981) portraying Police Detective Victor Isbecki, and afterward appeared in Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985).

Early life[edit]

Kove was born in Brooklyn, New York City, to a Jewish American family.[2]


Kove appeared in the 1984 hit film The Karate Kid as Cobra Kai sensei John Kreese. After playing a traitorous helicopter pilot in the 1985 film Rambo: First Blood Part II, he appeared again as Kreese in the 1986 sequel The Karate Kid Part II (using footage cut from the first film) and the 1989 sequel The Karate Kid Part III. He studied Okinawa-te Karate under prominent black belt Gordon Doversola Shihan.[3][4][5]

Kove in 2015

He appeared in the 2007 music video for the song "Sweep the Leg" by No More Kings as a caricature of himself and John Kreese from The Karate Kid.[6][7]

In 2018, Kove returned to the character of John Kreese for the YouTube Premium web series, Cobra Kai, a sequel series of the Karate Kid franchise set 34 years after the 1984 film. The series debuted on May 2, 2018, and was met with critical success. The show was renewed for a second season, which was published on April 24, 2019. In June 2020, the series was purchased by Netflix which would produce a third season. Several months later in October 2020 a fourth season was renewed in advance.[8]

In 2019, Kove again parodied his Karate Kid character in an ad for QuickBooks, in which a kinder, gentler Kreese runs a "Koala Kai" dojo of preteen students who are encouraged to "support the leg" and to show "more mercy".[9]



Year Title Role Notes
1971 Little Murders Uncredited
1971 Women in Revolt Marty
1972 Savages Archie
1972 The Last House on the Left Deputy
1973 Cops and Robbers Ambulance Attendant
1975 The Wild Party Editor
1975 Capone Pete Gusenberg
1975 Death Race 2000 Nero the Hero
1975 White Line Fever Clem
1976 The Four Deuces Smokey Ross
1977 The White Buffalo Jack McCall
1979 Seven Skip
1982 Blood Tide Neil Grice
1984 The Karate Kid Sensei John Kreese
1985 Rambo: First Blood Part II Michael Reed Ericson
1986 The Karate Kid Part II Sensei John Kreese
1987 Steele Justice John Steele
1989 The Karate Kid Part III Sensei John Kreese
1991 White Light Sean Craig
1992 Project Shadowchaser Desilva Direct-to-video
1992 Shootfighter: Fight to the Death Mr. Lee
1994 Wyatt Earp Ed Ross
1994 Frank and Jesse Uncredited
1994 Future Shock Dr. Langdon
1996 Timelock Admiral Danny Teegs
1996 Mercenary Phoenix
1998 Joseph's Gift Thompsonn
2000 Nowhere Land Hank
2002 Crocodile 2: Death Swamp Roland
2002 Curse of the Forty-Niner Caleb
2004 Illusion Infinity Taxi Driver
2005 Glass Trap Corrigan
2005 Miracle at Sage Street Jess
2006 Max Havoc: Ring of Fire Lt. Reynolds
2007 The Dead Sleep Easy Bob Depugh
2008 Chinaman's Chance: America's Other Slaves Sheriff Jones
2009 Middle Men US Senator
2011 Savage Jack Lund
2011 The Life Zone Randy Graves
2014 Falcon Song Caspian
2014 Eternity: The Movie Barry Goldfield, Sr.
2014 Tapped Out Principal Vanhorne
2014 The Extendables Aye Lewis [10]
2015 The Dog Who Saved Summer Vernon
2016 Traded Cavendish
2016 Jokers Wild Graham Palace
2017 Bring Me A Dream Sheriff Jack Miller
2018 Paint It Red Scabs
2019 Once Upon a Time in Hollywood Sheriff on Bounty Law
2019 VFW Lou Clayton


Year Title Role Episode(s)
1974 Gunsmoke Guthrie "In Performance of Duty"
1975 Three for the Road "The Rip-off"
1976 Kojak Burl Stole "Law Dance"
1976 The Streets of San Francisco Willis Hines "The Drop"
1977 The Rockford Files Harry Smick "Dirty Money, Black Light"
1977 Code R George Baker 12 episodes
1977 The San Pedro Beach Bums Denny Evans "The Shortest Yard"
1977–1978 We've Got Each Other Ken Redford 5 episodes
1978 The Incredible Hulk Henry "Rocky" Welsh "Final Round"
1978–1979 Barnaby Jones Greg Saunders, Stan Benson 2 episodes
1979 Quincy, M.E.
1978 Starsky and Hutch Jimmy “Birds of a Feather”;
1979 CHiPs Joe Kirby "The Death Challenge"; "Hot Wheels"
1980-1981 The Edge of Night Romeo Slade 16 episodes
1982 Cry for the Strangers Jeff Television film
1982–1988 Cagney & Lacey Victor Isbecki 113 episodes
1985 Murder, She Wrote Dr. Ellison "Armed Response"
1985 The Twilight Zone Joe "Opening Day"
1989 Hard Time on Planet Earth Jess 13 episodes
1993 Renegade Mitch Raines / Goliath 2 episodes
1993–1994 Kung Fu: The Legend Continues Chi'Ru Master 2 episodes
1994 Cagney & Lacey: The Return Victor Isbecki Television film
1995 Walker, Texas Ranger Fred Kimble "Flashback"
1995 Hercules: The Legendary Journeys Demetrius "The Mother of All Monsters"
1998–1999 Diagnosis: Murder Captain Walter Newman 3 episodes
2001 Under Heavy Fire Father Brazinski Television film
2001 Black Scorpion James Ames/Firearm "Armed and Dangerous"
2003 Hard Ground Floyd Television film
2003 Barbarian Munkar Television film
2009 War Wolves Malick Television film
2011 Tosh.0 John Kreese "Broad Breaker"
2015 Criminal Minds John Folkmore "Scream"
2017 The Goldbergs Master John "The Kara-Te Kid"
2018–present Cobra Kai John Kreese (Guest; season 1), (Main; Season 2-present)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Rahman, Abid (August 28, 2020). "'Cobra Kai' Star Martin Kove On Returning to Play Iconic Character". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 9, 2020. ...the 74-year-old [as of August 2020]
  2. ^ Tucker, Ernest (May 15, 1987). "'Kosher cowboy' bucks heavy image". Chicago Sun-Times. p. 71. Retrieved January 11, 2015. (subscription required)
  3. ^ Curran, Brad (June 11, 2014). "Interview with Martin Kove". Kung-fu Kingdom. Retrieved January 11, 2015.
  4. ^ "Star of Karate Kid talks with Ballinger Publishing". Ballinger Publishing. Retrieved January 11, 2015.
  5. ^ Angelus, Jerold (June 27, 2011). Martin Kove. Duct Publishing. p. 128. ISBN 9786136779522. Retrieved January 11, 2015.
  6. ^ Frye, Cory (March 10, 2018). "Of Being and Johnny Lawrence (Sweep the Leg)". Albany Democrat-Herald. Corvallis Gazette-Times. Retrieved October 21, 2018.
  7. ^ Strauss, Chris (October 9, 2014). "'Karate Kid' villain Billy Zabka is still best friends with the Cobra Kais". USA Today. Retrieved October 21, 2018.
  8. ^ "'Cobra Kai' Gets Early Season 4 Renewal at Netflix | Hollywood Reporter". Retrieved October 20, 2020.
  9. ^
  10. ^ THE EXTENDABLES Trailer on YouTube

Further reading[edit]

  • Voisin, Scott, Character Kings: Hollywood's Familiar Faces Discuss the Art & Business of Acting. BearManor Media, 2009. ISBN 978-1-59393-342-5.

External links[edit]