The main antagonist of the original trilogy. Kreese is an ex-Special Forces Vietnam Veteran. It becomes clear in The Karate Kid Part II that Kreese is racist toward Asians (judging by when he calls Miyagi a slope in the movie). In the first film, Kreese is a violent, cruel, brutal man who instructs his students to be merciless towards their enemies and by ordering his students to use illegal strikes at the tournament to disable their opponents. In the second film, after his best student, Johnny Lawrence lost to Daniel in the "All Valley Karate Tournament", Kreese violently proves himself as a sadistic sore loser (which is later stopped by Mr. Miyagi in a humorous way), and all the students depart from the Cobra Kai dojo. During the events of the third film, Kreese plots revenge against Daniel and Miyagi for the loss of his dojo and students. With nowhere to go, Kreese visits his Vietnam War buddy Terry Silver. After listening to Kreese's story, Silver decides to help him out by harassing Daniel and Miyagi and even hiring Mike Barnes to defeat Daniel in the All Valley Tournament.

In the 2010 Remake a character named Master Li mirrors Kreese in that he teaches his students an unethical form of Kung Fu, and orders his students to use cheap shots in the tournament during the film's climax.