Martin Kove (born March 6, 1947)[1] is an American film and television actor known for his work in films such as Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985) and on TV series such as Cagney & Lacey as Victor Isbecki . He is recognized for his role as the psychopathic Cobra Kai sensei John Kreese in the Karate Kid film series.

Early life

Martin Kove was born in Brooklyn, New York City and had a Jewish upbringing.[2]


Kove appeared as Cully in the 1967-1969 CBS series, Gentle Ben, with Dennis Weaver and Clint Howard. He was cast as George Baker in the short-lived CBS series Code R (1977) about the emergency services (fire, police, and ocean rescue) in the California Channel Islands. His co-stars were James Houghton, Tom Simcox, and Joan Freeman.

He also starred in the short-lived science fiction series Hard Time on Planet Earth and made guest appearances on several television programs including Gunsmoke, Three for the Road, Kojak, Quincy, M. E., The Incredible Hulk, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, The Streets of San Francisco, and Black Scorpion.

Kove was a cast member on the 1982–1988 CBS television series Cagney & Lacey as Detective Victor Isbecki.

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 reprised his role as Kreese in the 1986 sequel The Karate Kid, Part II 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 appeared in Kung Fu: The Legend Continues as the Shadow Assassin in Episode 3, Season 1, "Shadow Assassin", which aired on 3 February 1993, and in Episode 23, Season 2, which aired on 26 January 1994.

In 2007, Kove appeared in the No More Kings video "Sweep The Leg", in a parody of his Karate Kid character. He appeared on Tosh.0 as his character from The Karate Kid, John Kreese, where he spoofed the final fight on the "Board Breaker Web Redemption". At the end of the skit, Daniel Tosh, dressed as Mr. Miyagi, honks Kove's nose, a reference to Mr. Miyagi's action in the scene at the beginning of The Karate Kid, Part II.



Year Title Role Notes
1971 Little Murders Uncredited
1971 Women in Revolt Marty
1972 Savages Archie, a Bully
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
1977 The White Buffalo Jack McCall
1979 Seven Skip
1982 Cry For The Strangers Jeff Television film
1982 Blood Tide Neil Grice
1984 The Karate Kid Sensei John Kreese
1985 Rambo: First Blood Part II 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 Cagney & Lacey: The Return Victor Isbecki Television film
1996 Time Lock Admiral Danny Teegs
2000 Nowhere Land Hank
2001 Under Heavy Fire Father Brazinski Television film
2002 Crocodile 2: Death Swamp Roland
2002 Curse of the Forty-Niner Caleb
2003 Hard Ground Floyd Television film
2003 Barbarian Munkar
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 War Wolves Malick Television film
2009 Middle Men US Senator
2011 Savage Jack Lund
2014 Falcon Song Caspian
2014 Eternity: The Movie Barry Goldfield, Sr.
2014 Tapped Out Principal Vanhorne
2014 The Extendables [6]
2015 The Dog Who Saved Summer Vernon
2016 Traded Cavendish


Year Title Role Notes
1974 Gunsmoke Guthrie Episode: "In Performance of Duty"
1975 Three for the Road Episode: "The Rip-off"
1976 Kojak Burl Stole Episode: "Law Dance"
1976 The Streets of San Francisco Willis Hines Episode: "The Drop"
1977 Code R George Baker 12 episodes
1977 The San Pedro Beach Bums Episode: "The Shortest Yard"
1977–1978 We've Got Each Other Ken Redford 5 episodes
1978 The Incredible Hulk Henry "Rocky" Welsh Episode: "Final Round"
1978–1979 Barnaby Jones Greg Saunders, Stan Benson 2 episodes
1979 Quincy, M. E. Joe Kirby Episode: "The Death Challenge"
1982–1988 Cagney & Lacey Victor Isbecki 113 episodes
1989 Hard Time on Planet Earth Jess 13 episodes
1993–1994 Kung Fu: The Legend Continues Chi'Ru Master 2 episodes
1993 Renegade Mitch Raines / Goliath 2 episodes
1995 Walker, Texas Ranger Fred Kimble Episode: "Flashback"
1995 Hercules: The Legendary Journeys Demetrius Episode: "The Mother of All Monsters"
1998–1999 Diagnosis Murder Captain Walter Newman 3 episodes
2001 Black Scorpion James Ames / Firearm Episode: "Armed and Dangerous"
2011 Tosh.0 John Kreese Episode: "Broad Breaker"
2015 Criminal Minds John Folkmore Episode: "Scream"


  1. ^ "Martin Kove Biography (1947-)". Retrieved 11 January 2015. 
  2. ^ "Chicago Sun-Times:: Search". Retrieved 11 January 2015. 
  3. ^ "Interview with Martin Kove". Kung-fu Kingdom. Retrieved 11 January 2015. 
  4. ^ "Ballinger Publishing - Star of Karate Kid talks with Ballinger Publishing". Retrieved 11 January 2015. 
  5. ^ "Martin Kove". Retrieved 11 January 2015. 
  6. ^ THE EXTENDABLES Trailer on YouTube

Further reading

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