As cheesy and hokey as the Karate Kid Part 3 was, its main villain Terry Silver, was worthy of being in a good production. Now he is.
Billionaire karate villain Terry Silver has been away from our screens for thirty years. Now he is back with a vengeance.
Terry Silver is back. The last season of Cobra Kai hinted at that. Netflix made a trailer confirming it. After these two events occured, actor/TV writer Thomas Ian Griffith recently gave an interview with the podcast Cobra Kai Kompanion in regards to returning to the role of Terry Silver on Cobra Kai. In said interview he said he watched the first season of the show on YouTube Red and he loved it (didn't we all?). However, he did not expect to ever be offered the opportunity to reprise the role of Terry Silver on the show. Reason being, it appeared to him there was no place for his slimy toxic waste dumping billionaire bad guy on the show.
Funny thing was, based on certain bits in the first season, I had the exact opposite reaction. During a bit where William Zabka's Johnny Lawrence was trying to get Cobra Kai reinstated into the All Valley Tournament, it is revealed they were banned due to unsportsmanlike conduct by Terry Silver and Mike Barnes. A female board member asks Johnny, "What is your relationship to this Terry Silver?" To which he truthfully responds, "Ma'am, I have no idea who that even is." since he was not in the Karate Kid Part 3. But said exchange gave the indication, to me at least, that if the show lasted beyond this season he would most likely find out sometime.
In addition, and Griffith touched upon this a time or two in said interview, show co-creator/co-showrunner Hayden Schlossberg has said that his favorite character in the series was Terry Silver. So I knew they'd try to get him on.
With good reason, too. The third film in the franchise is, putting it generously, a disaster of epic proportions. But Terry Silver as a character, thanks largely to Griffith's over-the-top performance, is brilliant. Much like Paul McGann’s performance as the Eighth Doctor in FOX network’s 1996 Doctor Who TV movie was the only endearing thing about that mess. But that’s an article for another time.
How can you not love a karate villain with unlimited funds who takes bubble baths while he arranges toxic waste deals in Borneo, bribery of grand juries, and business deals with his violent new protege Mike Barnes? And laughs it up as he makes franchise protagonist Daniel LaRusso's knuckles bleed?
Amazingly as well, he may be a horrible person, but Silver is probably the best friend a guy could ever have. Series villain John Kreese, as played by Martin Kove, saved Silver's hide many times when they served together in Vietnam and Silver hears of Daniel and Mr. Miyagi's dealings with him and vows to avenge him, literally putting all his other business aside to do just that. Granted the guy picks the worst friends to do this for but that's his problem.
Griffith's performance in the film makes any actor on the 1960s Batman TV show seem like Paul Newman. But somehow that makes the character all the more interesting. Silver is so cool and so conniving, always plotting and snickering and manipulating Daniel into trusting him so he can tun him against Mr. Miyagi and teach him to be weak and vulnerable with his wicked squeaky laugh, he was far too good for that terrible sequel. Which was why I had hoped at the end of Season One when John Kreese showed up, Terry Silver was not far behind him.
Unfortunately, since Griffith has not acted since 2007 and now concentrates on writing television with his wife Mary Page Keller (whom, coincidentally, once played the wife of fellow Karate Kid villain Yuji Okumoto in the 1999 Disney Channel film Johnny Tsunami and its sequel), Silver actually was far behind Kreese. According to the podcast, Griffith was reluctant to act again at all, insisting to his wife that perhaps if he found the right role one day. However, his two young sons are enormous fans of the show so when he finally got the call to appear for Season Four, they insisted to him that he was going to do it. So he relented and here we are.
Original trilogy writer Robert Mark Kamen had an interview at the beginning of 2021, it may have been with the same podcast, I'm not sure, wherein he said he'd instructed Griffith to play Silver as far more subdued than he did thirty-two years ago. I was concerned when I'd heard this because part of the fun of Silver was how campy he was. But the only way I can say this and not give away anything (I spoiled the show with my article on Chozen, I don't wanna do it again, especially since Season Four literally just dropped the very day I'm writing this) is that Silver is played as far more subdued. The reason being, he begins the show in a very different place than he was thirty years ago, though he is indeed still very wealthy.
I don't want to give away Griffith's role on the show but I will say that Griffith appears to be having the time of his life playing his most famous role again and there is more than a chance, rather a certainty, that he will be playing a very prominent role in future seasons of the show. Though there were certain despicable aspects of the man's personality in the third film that are still very much there. And you must be wondering, do the writers do the character justice? I am happy to say yes, they do indeed. They did what they do with every character, they fleshed him out far more than he ever was in the third film and expanded on his motivations and why he was the way he was when we saw him thirty years ago ("I was all hopped up on cocaine and revenge." which explains a lot).
Thank you, Jon, Josh and Hayden, for doing for the Karate Kid franchise what so many other classic franchise runners fail to do and that is doing fan service correctly.