Stunts Gone Wrong: Yes, Courtney Henggeler really slapped Martin Kove in Cobra Kai Season 3

The slap was accidental, but we all wanted it to be real, didn’t we?

Oh, that slap, we need to talk about it.

Cobra Kai fans have probably seen it by now. Maybe some non-fans, so I don’t think this is a super-SPOILER, but if you haven’t seen Amanda Larusso, Daniel’s dealership partner wife in Cobra Kai slap Cobra Kai dojo sensei John Kreese, then it’s one of the must watch moments of Season 3. I’m not going to get into the story reasons why she slapped Kreese. You’ll have to watch the show to learn the context, but it’s a juicy dramatic moment.

There are so many must-watch moments in all three seasons of Cobra Kai, but in this post, we’re just going to focus on stunts gone wrong. It happens.

The slap was absolutely intended to be a stunt. Henggeler — who has one of the most difficult to spell last names in show business — was excited that she got to perform a stunt in Season 3. She worked with a stunt coordinator. She was supposed to miss.

Eventually, Henggeler prepared for the slapping scene with both Kove and a stunt coordinator and said things went just fine until the very last take when she missed her mark. “They say if you do [a stunt] and if you make contact with the person you’re doing the stunt with, just to keep going because if you stop, then not only have you just hurt somebody, but you’ve ruined the shot,” she remembered. So when her hand actually connected to Kove’s face, she tried to play it off. “I hit him in the face, hard — not intentionally, obviously — and I was like, ‘Don’t make a face!’ And I think it’s the take they used,” Henggeler said. 

How good is Ralph Macchio at Karate in real life?

The fact that they used the real slap is a statement on stunts being dangerous. Not that a slap couldn’t injure somebody, but let’s remember that Martin Kove is in his 70s. Bones get more brittle. You don’t recover as easily and speedily from bumps and bruises . Stunts gone wrong can kill people. This stunt would not have killed Kove, most likely, but it’s interesting that the real slap is the stunt they used. It’s the one that looked most realistic … because it was.

This made me wonder about other stunts gone wrong that were used in films. Probably one of the most tragic stunts that comes to mind — and the footage of course was NOT used — is on the set of The Twilight Zone movie (see: SXSW 2020 REVIEW: Cursed Films Season 1 – All 5 Episodes Rated and Reviewed) with John Landis where Vic Morrow and two child actors were killed when a helicopter literally fell on them, rotor blades spinning and chopping. There’s some chilling real footage on YouTube if you poke around, but I’m not going to link or embed it here. Argh, it chills me in a Faces of Death way thinking about that footage.

Jackie Chan does a lot of his own stunts. He’s had plenty of accidents and been hurt. Go watch Rumble in the Bronx and then stay with it as the closing credits roll. You’ll see him break a leg — really — and more.

Sarah Connor in T2, played by Linda Hamilton, is almost permanently deaf in one ear because that weapon she wasn’t wearing hearing protection when she fired that gun inside the elevator.

Not that I want to glamorize actors being hurt in stunts in this post in any way, but we need to remember that for all that actors are paid, and some are paid really well (lead actors, particularly), when they’re doing stuntwork there can be real world danger involved. There are safety protocols in place on sets, but they don’t always get followed like they should, just like any other job.

That slap, though? Viewers wanted, needed it to be real. We can be happy that it was because Martin Kove never got hurt. There’s something kind of cool about that stunt gone wrong.

Do you have a favorite stunt gone wrong that made it into the movie or TV show?