Who is Mike Barnes? New Cobra Kai villain explained


Mike Barnes was one of the villains in The Karate Kid III, fighting Daniel LaRusso in the film’s finale. And new photos have confirmed that he’ll be appearing in Season 5 of Cobra Kai. So who is Mike Barnes, and how will he fit into the plot?

Netflix have released new stills from Season 5 of Cobra Kai, and they feature Mike Barnes, a legacy character from The Karate Kid III.

We don’t know exactly what part the character will play in the series, but a line from the very end of Season 4 might hint at how “karate’s bad boy” will fit into proceedings.

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So how did Mike Barnes become embroiled in this story in the first place? Well indirectly, as ever, it’s because of John Kreese.

Who is Mike Barnes in The Karate Kid III?

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Mike Barnes goes after Daniel LaRusso in The Karate Kid III.

The Karate Kid III finds old villain John Kreese teaming up with new villain Terry Silver to get revenge against Daniel LaRusso. Silver comes up with a plan, which kicks off with his hiring the bad boy of karate, Mike Barnes (see flyer below).

Silver flies Barnes to Los Angeles, gives him money, buys him a car, and – while sitting in a bath – offers him a 25% share in his dojo business in exchange for Barnes beating LaRusso in the All-Valley Championship. Mike negotiates 50%, and they have a deal.

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What follows is scene after scene of Barnes trying to convince LaRusso to participate in the tournament. He interrupts a date and tells Daniel. Then interrupts another date and starts a fight, which is ultimately broken up by Mr. Miyagi. Finally he nearly kills Daniel during a weird abseiling sequence, and LaRusso relents, signing the entrance form.

Columbia Pictures
Mike Barnes IS karate’s bad boy.

Mike then fights Daniel for the All-Valley Championship, and on the orders of Kreese and Silver, toys with him for the full three minutes of the match, scoring a point, then fouling to lose a point. Over-and-over again.

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Daniel ends the match a broken man, and fears the sudden death match that follows. Which is when Mike gets in his face, shouting “You’re a joke LaRusso, your karate’s a joke, and your teacher isn’t worth sh*t. He’s nothing, and you’re nothing. I own you. I own you LaRusso.”

With some encouragement from Mr. Miyagi, Daniel gets up, and quickly dispatches his opponent, making LaRusso a two-time All-Valley Champion. And that’s the last we see of Mike Barnes. Until now.

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Who plays Mike Barnes in Cobra Kai Season 5?

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Sean Kanan as Mike Barnes in The Karate Kid III.

Sean Kanan played Mike Barnes in The Karate Kid III and reprises the role in Season 5 of Cobra Kai.

Following parts in a couple of minor horror releases in the late 1980s, playing Mike in Karate Kid III was Kanan’s first major role.

He then moved to TV, guest starring in the likes of Who’s the Boss, The Nanny, Step by Step, and The New Adventures of Superman, before landing a recurring role on Sunset Beach.

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Kanan then spent most of the last two decades in soap operas, appearing in The Young and the Restless, General Hospital, and The Bold and the Beautiful. But Mike Barnes in Cobra Kai is arguably his biggest gig since the last time he played the character.

How will Mike Barnes fit into Season 5 of Cobra Kai?

terry-silver-martin-kove-pat-morita-in-the-karate-kid-3Columbia Pictures
Terry Silver, about to tell Mr. Miyagi his plans for the Valley.

During The Karate Kid III, Terry Silver barks at Mr. Miyagi “You think this is the end of it old man? I’m going to open up Cobra Kai dojos all over this valley.”

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At the end of Cobra Kai Season 4, Silver is doing just that, initially in partnership with John Kreese, until through a surprise twist, he sets Kreese up and has him arrested.

As John is being carted away by the cops, Terry says “Don’t worry about a thing – I’m sure I can dig up an old friend or two to help out with Cobra Kai while you deal with your legal problems.”

Remember that deal Terry struck with Mike at the start of Karate Kid III? Although Mike didn’t hold up his side of the arrangement by beating Daniel, this is likely how Barnes will be brought back into the story – overseeing the dojo expansion as Cobra Kai endeavors to dominate karate in the Valley.

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Cobra Kai Season 5 hits Netflix on September 9.

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