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"Mr. Silver, you just bought yourself a champion."
―Mike Barnes to Terry Silver[src]

Mike Barnes is the secondary antagonist in The Karate Kid Part III and a supporting protagonist in Season 5 and Season 6 of the Netflix series Cobra Kai. He is portrayed by Sean Kanan.

Barnes was a greedy and unscrupulous professional karate fighter who is hired by Terry Silver to beat Daniel LaRusso at the 1985 All Valley Karate Tournament in exchange for fifty percent ownership of Silver's new Cobra Kai dojos. Barnes terrorizes Daniel constantly until the tournament, where he is ultimately defeated by Daniel. Daniel regarded his fight with Barnes as the most difficult and frightening of his life, and the painful memories of Mike's abuse haunted him well into adulthood. Because of this, Barnes was often regarded as Daniel's greatest foe.

Due to his actions during the tournament, Mike was banned from competitive karate, and he ultimately turned over a new leaf and became a better man pursuing a lucrative career as a furniture salesman.

Biography[]

Mike Barnes is a renowned, skilled, and vicious karate fighter who competed in tournaments around the country, winning more fights than he lost. He has little care for his opponents' well being, earning him the nickname, "Karate's Bad Boy" in a magazine. He was one of the best up-and-coming professional Karate fighters in the country, as he was a tenth-degree black belt at the age of seventeen. He was labeled the "tournament terror" and able to practically name his price, which was in the millions.

Film series[]

The Karate Kid Part III[]

Karate Kid III - Mike Barnes, Snake and Dennis

Mike Barnes meets Terry Silver

In 1985, Terry Silver spotted Mike Barnes in a karate magazine that dubbed him "Karate's Bad Boy," and tells him over the phone that he wants him to fight Daniel LaRusso and to beat him at the next All Valley Karate Tournament. In return, Silver will give him 25% ownership of his new Cobra Kai dojos that he plans to open. When Barnes arrives at Silver's house, he is introduced to two teenagers from Terry's neighborhood named Snake and Dennis, who will take care of him and his training. Barnes tells Silver that he wants 50% ownership. Silver finds this too ambitious and requests 35%. Barnes thanks Silver and starts to leave. Impressed at the boy's moxie, Silver gives him 50%. When Silver finds out that Daniel is not defending his title this year, he orders Barnes and Snake to force Daniel to enter the tournament. When Barnes confronts Daniel at Mr. Miyagi's bonsai shop, he asks him to sign an application so that he will fight at the tournament. Daniel has no reason to fight, but Barnes tells him that his financial future will be ruined if Daniel does not fight him at the tournament. Daniel still refuses and Barnes angrily prepares to fight him, but Snake pulls him back and he and Barnes leave.

The next night, Barnes and his friends arrive at the shop and interrupt Daniel and Jessica Andrews having a friendly dinner. Barnes asks Daniel if he signed the application, but Daniel didn't and still doesn't want to fight him. Barnes and his friends begin to trash the shop and Dennis fights Daniel, but is easily defeated. Jessica knocks out Snake with a pot but gets kicked in the stomach by Barnes, who then fights Daniel. Barnes easily defeats Daniel, but Mr. Miyagi arrives and defeats the three boys, thus scaring them away and stopping them from doing further damage to the shop.

Karate Kid III - Mike Barnes threatens Daniel

Mike threatens Daniel

The gang escapes and Barnes threatens that he will come back for Daniel. When Daniel and Miyagi drive Jessica home, Barnes and his gang steal their bonsai trees and leave a tournament application in its place. Daniel and Jessica decide to retrieve a valuable bonsai tree at a cliff and plan to sell it in order to buy a new stock of trees to sell. They were unaware that the "Bad Boy" and his gang followed them. When Daniel and Jessica retrieve the tree, Barnes and his friends retract their climbing ropes and force Daniel to sign the application. After Daniel signs it, Barnes and his friends pull Daniel and Jessica to the cliffs. Snake retrieves the application from Daniel and tells Barnes that it is already signed. They threaten to drop Jessica unless Daniel gives Barnes the valuable bonsai tree. Daniel reluctantly does so, though Barnes breaks it to make a point.

Barnes appears at Mr. Miyagi's house and beats up Daniel, asking him why he called the police on him. Silver, on the next phase of his plan, shows up and "rescues" Daniel. Silver offers to "train" Daniel for the tournament. But Daniel realizes that Silver's teachings has made him a different kid and tells Silver that he will not train with him and will not compete at the tournament. Silver reveals that his true agenda was avenging John Kreese, and Barnes and Kreese enter the room. Barnes viciously assaults Daniel until Mr. Miyagi arrives in defense of Daniel. Barnes, Kreese and Silver are then easily defeated by Miyagi, with Barnes being defeated the quickest. Barnes trains for the tournament. At the tournament, Barnes defeats Dempsey at the finals in order to face Daniel. Silver and Kreese instruct Barnes to score a point and lose that point over and over so that Daniel will experience pain for the full three minutes, and then beat Daniel once and for all in the sudden death round.

Karate Kid III - Daniel prepares to perform Kata

Barnes fights Daniel in the tournament

During the match, Barnes does what he was told to do and when the initial round concludes, Daniel determines that he is afraid of Barnes and cannot continue, but Mr. Miyagi tells him that his best karate is still inside him and that it is time to let it out. When Miyagi returns to where he stood the whole tournament which was in front of the bracket board, Barnes appears and says extremely cruel and nasty things, in other words, verbally abusing Daniel and Mr. Miyagi. This makes Daniel furious, prompting him to get up and fight. In the sudden death round, Daniel does the kata and shows Barnes that his karate is not a joke, which makes Barnes confused. Barnes is unclear on how to proceed, until Terry and Kreese instruct him to win the point. Barnes gets back to his position. After Daniel finishes the kata, Barnes lunges toward him, but Daniel counters his attack, flips him to the ground and punches him, defeating Barnes and winning the tournament for the second straight year.

Barnes, realizing that he has lost, starts slamming the mat in frustration. When the audience boos and rejects the Cobra Kai T-shirts, Silver's plan to open a chain of Cobra Kai dojos has been thwarted. As a result, Barnes's lucrative 50% deal with Terry Silver is a moot point, costing Mike his financial future.

Interim Years[]

Barnes was permanently banned from competing in All-Valley karate due to his, Silver's and Kreese's actions, leading to him being forced to retire from performing karate professionally. He took this hard because he felt like his life had been taken from him due to the fact that karate was the only talent he had. As he aged, Mike worked different odd jobs, eventually finding employment doing menial work in a large furniture store. He had impressed the store owner with his work ethic, which led to the owner imparting aspects of his business to Mike and convincing him there was a different path in life. Mike also got to know the owner's daughter, eventually marrying her. Following the death of the store owner, his daughter and son-in-law used their savings to start a new store. A redeemed Barnes, grew to regret his actions to Daniel and desired to apologize to him. However, not wanting to trigger anything, he decided to let the past be and move on.

Cobra Kai[]

Season 1[]

Johnny Lawrence seeks to enroll his Cobra Kai Dojo in the upcoming All Valley Karate Tournament, only to learn that the dojo holds a lifetime ban for poor unethical conduct committed by Mike Barnes, Terry Silver, and John Kreese. Johnny, however, reveals that he has never met Mike Barnes and does not believe he should be held to the standard of a former member.

Season 3[]

Daniel takes his daughter Sam to the All Valley auditorium and tells her of the time that he almost lost the tournament to fear. Sam erroneously assumes that he is referring to the 1984 tournament against Johnny, but Daniel clarifies that it was the 1985 tournament. Daniel, who always hid information of the time he joined Cobra Kai from his family out of shame, had not told her of this until now. Daniel refers to Mike only as his "opponent" and says he was ruthless as clips from their fight are shown. However, Daniel tells her that he overcame his fear and won in the end thanks to Mr. Miyagi's advice.

Season 4[]

After Terry Silver returns to Cobra Kai, Daniel shares with Johnny the torment that Silver inflicted on him as a teenager. During the conversation, he mentions his victory over Barnes in the 1985 All Valley Tournament.

As Daniel equally opens up to Amanda, she jokingly asks if there are any other Cobra Kais from his past that they should be worried about coming back. Daniel emphatically replies "No", and then corrects himself, saying he "can't say that for sure", obviously referring to Mike Barnes.

The 1985 sudden death match is referenced during the finals of the 2019 All Valley when the match goes to a sudden death. The announcer says this is the first time the event has happened since 1985.

Season 5[]

CK S5 Barnes FirstLook

Mike encounters Chozen Toguchi

With Terry Silver's Cobra Kai encroaching on the valley, Daniel and Chozen theorize who Silver can call for help in running his dojo. Daniel surmises it's "Mike fucking Barnes". He seeks Barnes out, following him from his home to Agoura Fine Furnishings. He eavesdrops on Barnes' phone call where he demands fifty percent. He admonishes the "shitty Italian" and how he can't wait to chop the legs off, holding up a power saw as he does. When he references children, Daniel, thinking that he was speaking to Terry Silver about himself, interrupts the call, and Mike informs him that he was on the phone with his wife discussing furniture commissions and wouldn't have taken a call from Silver even if he had been contacted, as he blames Terry for ruining his life. Mike apologizes to Daniel for everything he said and did, saying he wanted to do it decades earlier, but didn't have the courage to approach him, concerned that seeing him again would cause Daniel to bring back memories of past traumas and maybe even start a new rivalry.

Mike explains that he owns the furniture store now and hasn't done karate for decades because, after the 1985 All Valley Tournament, he was banned from karate, which was "all he knew", causing him to do a variety of odd jobs. At some point, he got a job moving furniture, where he met his future father-in-law, who taught him he could use his hands for something other than fighting, giving him a job as his apprentice and teaching him the tools of the trade. Gradually, Mike started to heal from his troubled upbringing and eventually married his boss's daughter. The couple later opened Agoura Fine Furnishings together.

Daniel and Mike pretend to spar again, and Chozen sees this and attacks Mike. Mike and Chozen fight for a time (with Mike doing well considering he is now retired from karate and works as a furniture salesman), and Daniel breaks it up. After this, the three sit down and try to patch things up. Chozen expresses interest in a blue tufted suede sofa, and asks the price. Mike tells him that the cost is $1,200 and pretends like he will cut him a deal, only to increase the price to $2,000 for attacking him and his employees. Chozen ultimately buys the sofa. Mike later sees that, as retaliation for working with Daniel, Terry has burned his store down.

Johnny Chozen Mike

Mike, Johnny, and Chozen confronting Terry Silver

Believing that Daniel and Chozen were to blame for his store's destruction even though they didn't, he steals a limousine that Daniel, Johnny, and Chozen are riding in that evening. He maniacally drives it and refuses to let the passengers out. He skids to a halt and pulls out the men. He blames Daniel for his store's destruction, claiming he is broke now. Daniel denies having anything to do with the fire and promises to do what he can to help Mike get back on his feet, but this is not heard by a drunken Mike, who tries to attack Daniel. Johnny remarks that Mike Barnes does not look like a karate bad boy and intervenes by lunging at him. While Barnes throws him back, Johnny then lands a kick on him. However, Daniel and Chozen talk him out of it as they tell him that Terry Silver was the one responsible. Realizing the truth, Barnes, Chozen and Johnny then decide to confront Terry Silver for his many crimes. While Daniel disagrees, Barnes leaves him and heads to Silver's place with Johnny and Chozen. When they arrive, Karate's Bad Boy confronts his former boss about his store. Reminding the trio that trespassing is a crime, Silver sends one of his senseis to deal with the trio. Reflecting on himself, Mike remembers Silver's plan of hiring other people. Barnes defeats one of the Cobra Kai senseis at Silver's home, but is knocked out from behind with a large statue by another. He eventually wakes up to save Johnny from a slew of attacks from the sensei's at the last minute. Mike then told Johnny where Chozen was, where its revealed that he wasn't killed. Mike later steals a Rembrandt painting from Terry's home to cover the costs of his store. They then arrived at the Encino Cobra Kai dojo, and helped out an injured Chozen get into an ambulance just as Terry Silver had recently been defeated.

Personality[]

"You back out of this and this will seem like a pretty nice dream compared to what we all will do to you... and what we'll *all* do to her."
―Mike Barnes threatens Daniel and Jessica[src]

A young Mike was an extremely aggressive, competitive, intimidating and highly skilled tenth-degree black belt Karate champion. During his first meeting with Silver, he was shown to be a very good young businessman as he immediately tried to earn more than what it was initially proposed in his deal with Terry, and was willing to do anything in order to secure his financial future which resulted on his multiple threats and attacks on Daniel LaRusso. Mike is portrayed as a near-psychopathic brute, and the greatest threat Daniel ever faced. Daniel was even more scared of Mike than he was of Chozen, who tried to kill him. Barnes committed numerous crimes over the course of the film, including assault, attempted murder, death and rape threats, stalking, grand theft and vandalism under Terry Silver's command. As a fighter, Barnes was known for breaking the rules of conduct which earned him the name of "the Bad Boy of Karate". Despite all this, in Mike was shown to have at least some sympathy, like telling Daniel that he was "doing this to himself" while beating him up.

In the tournament, Barnes was so abusive that Daniel did not even want to continue the fight because he was afraid of what Mike might do to him. Barnes also beat Daniel so badly to the point where he was too scared to get off of the mat, and proceeded to profanely and verbally abuse him, Mr. Miyagi, and his Karate, both of which he deemed a "joke", hurling in numerous racial slurs about Mr. Miyagi. This is a feat of sheer vileness that no other Karate Kid villain has expressed. Mike's behavior and actions in the third film are similar to Johnny and Dutch from the original The Karate Kid and Chozen in The Karate Kid Part II. Unlike the other three, however, Mike was far more dangerous, aggressive, and angry. Unlike Johnny and Chozen, who only became bullies because of their influences by their mentors John Kreese and Sato Toguchi, Mike had just chosen to be a bully and possessed no morals unlike Johnny and Chozen, who possessed a certain amount of honor. Barnes was such a ruthless opponent during the 1985 All-Valley Tournament that his conduct singlehandedly got the Cobra Kai Dojo banned permanently, which forced him to quit karate.

Fortunately, Mike changed his ways after his big loss at the tournament, hitting rock bottom similar to Johnny. He ultimately cleaned up his act, got married and became a furniture store owner. Mike explains that when he got involved in the furniture business, he realized he could "do something with [my] hands other than fight", possibly implying that he was raised to be an obsessive karate champion by parents who only wanted him to succeed financially, which would explain his behavior in The Karate Kid Part III. He apologized to Daniel for what he did to him in the past. However, he still maintains some aggressions, such as fighting Chozen when the latter attacks him, attacking Daniel and accusing him because he believed he was responsible for his furniture store being burned down even though he didn't, and attacking Silvers' men in a fit of rage. While he did retain some aggressive behavior, he also showed that he was far more reasonable. This was shown when Daniel and Chozen explained it was Terry that had burnt down his store. Realizing that the two were telling the truth, he immediately redirected his aggression to Terry. He also demonstrated his kindness by helping Chozen after he was injured during his fight with Silver and saving Johnny when he was being overpowered by the last two senseis.

Fighting Style[]

"There's nothing you've got that I can't counter. Your karate's a joke."
―Mike Barnes to Daniel LaRusso[src]

A young Barnes was a highly aggressive fighter, overwhelming his opponents with his speed and intense combinations. He was an underhanded fighter, perfectly willing to cheat to win, or to demoralize his opponent. His physical strength, illegal fighting tactics and intimidation allowed him to get the better of Daniel more times than the latter's past opponents. His aggression however, could be a weakness as he could be suckered by a good counter-fighter, which occurred against Daniel in the sudden death round of the finals of the All Valley Tournament. He also easily lost to Miyagi, due to the latter's superior defense and technique.

Mike was likely more skilled and a better fighter than Chozen when he was younger, as he repeatedly got the better of Daniel in a point-based match with rules, but his constant rule breaking prolonged the fight and eventually resulted in a sudden death match, where he was defeated (just barely), while Chozen, on the other hand, was knocked out completely and beaten by Daniel in a no-holds-barred fight to the death. Barnes was a much better fighter than Daniel (a given since he was a professional), and was winning for almost the entire tournament while also executing Silver's plan to perfection, showing that he was in complete control of that fight until the final round. Had Mike followed the rules the entire time, he would have won easily against Daniel.

When he was once again encountered by Daniel thirty three years later, Mike admitted he hadn't trained in karate in decades since he had been banned from all tournaments. In spite of this, he was still shown to be a highly skilled fighter, as when Chozen attacked him, he was able to hold his own against him during their brief brawl, countering several of Chozen's attacks. During the fight at Terry Silver's house, Mike was able to swiftly overpower and knock out the first of the sensei's brought out to attack him, Chozen and Johnny. He was only knocked out due to being ambushed and caught by surprise. After recovering, he effortlessly overpowers two of Silver's henchmen in quick succession.

Relationships[]

Terry Silver[]

"Classic Silver. Why get your hands dirty when you can pay someone to do it for you?"
―Mike Barnes mocking Terry Silver[src]

Mike was hired by Terry Silver due to his reputation as a karate world champion, offering 20% ownership of his future chain of Cobra Kai dojos. Upon meeting and while Barnes was grateful for the invitation, he immediately tried to negotiate with Silver in order to gain more, which resulted in him having 50% ownership of the dojos if he won the All Valley Tournament. Silver also used Barnes to terrorize the young Daniel LaRusso in the convoluted revenge plot for Cobra Kai sensei John Kreese. Mike was a very angry individual and Silver made him use all that rage against LaRusso, making him feel threatened and even assaulting the young man multiple times until the All Valley Tournament. Silver also trained Barnes and taught him the Cobra Kai style while making sure that he tortured Daniel for their whole fight at the tournament. After losing to Daniel, their deal was broken off, costing Mike his financial future on top of having him banned from karate, something that he blamed more on Silver than LaRusso.

Years later, after reuniting with Daniel and finding out that Terry Silver, whom he hadn't seen in years, was destroying Daniel's life, he agreed to help him by giving him the name of the attorney that made his contract back in 1985. Terry Silver found out about this and in retaliation burned down Mike's furniture store, leaving him with anger and desire for revenge. After learning Silver's address, he immediately decided to go to his mansion and attack him for his crimes. Arriving at the mansion, Mike met Silver for the first time in years, when telling his story, Terry showed no remorse for what he did to Mike, which made him even more angry. As Terry called upon various senseis to fight Mike and his allies, he openly mocked Silver, saying that he always chose to pay someone to do his dirty work instead of doing it himself.

Daniel LaRusso[]

Mike Barnes was particularly hired to defeat the young Daniel LaRusso on the All Valley Karate Tournament. When Daniel refused to enter the tournament, Mike started threatening and even straight up assaulting LaRusso and his friend Jessica Andrews in order to make him sign the application to the tournament. Despite the multiple beatings he gave to Daniel along with his aggressive demeanor towards him, he also mentioned that him not entering the tournament would affect his financial future, making it clear that to him that was all business and just a means to make a lot of money from Terry Silver. During the tournament, Mike constantly attacked Daniel with illegal hits making him lose each point he won, making the LaRusso's suffering last as long as he could via Silver's orders. Despite Daniel winning the tournament, resulting in Barnes being banned from karate, Mike left LaRusso deeply traumatized from that experience.

Over thirty years later, Daniel returned to Mike's life, believing that he was still working for Silver, who had returned to terrorized Daniel's life now that he was an adult. Despite the misunderstanding, Mike apologized to Daniel for all the things he did to him when they were younger, regretting all of it and even helping Daniel take down Silver by giving him the name of the attorney that made his original contract. After Silver burned his store, Mike blamed Daniel and in a fit of anger hijacked a limousine that Daniel, Johnny, and Chozen were riding in order to beat them up. When Daniel explained to him that Silver was to blame, he asked them to team up in order to go after Silver. After Daniel refused, he had no problem with leaving him stranded while he, Johnny and Chozen used the limo to go to Silver's mansion.

Other Relationships[]

Concept and Creation[]

"I'm what he's talking about, shithead."
―Mike Barnes to Daniel LaRusso[src]

When the character was created, Mike Barnes was originally written as a skilled but amateur Karate student who came from a family that trained all of their children in Karate. As evidenced by an early screen test with the then-cast Jonathan Avildsen, Mike Barnes was originally conceived as more of an obsessed fan of Daniel, who respected his skill at Karate and wanted to beat Daniel at the All Valley Tournament for personal reasons, as his two brothers had in the past (both had held the title for five years). This backstory would also put his origin from the Los Angeles area and not from elsewhere in the country. However, instead of simply winning the tournament, Barnes wanted to win "the right way", by traditionally beating the previous champion. This initial portrayal of Barnes was more of a Chozen-type honor-focused character who initially seemed somewhat pleasant. In this original version, Mike was less outright aggressive and more faux affably evil, trying to passive-aggressively manipulate Daniel into competing against him by first complimenting him and then beginning to take a darker tone when Daniel refused. This backstory also mentioned that Mike had been training to fight in the tournament since he was fourteen.

However, the filmmakers ended up re-writing the script and it was decided that Jonathan Avildsen would not work out for the newer Mike Barnes the filmmakers wanted, a taller, more muscular, physically imposing and intimidating nationwide Karate champion. The newer Mike Barnes was written to be more aggressive, less friendly and without any motive other than personal wealth. It is likely that they made this change to raise the stakes to Daniel fighting an unhinged and greedy professional Karate fighter, as well as to cement the wealth and power that Terry Silver had access to, and the lengths he was willing to go to humiliate Daniel and Mr. Miyagi. Since the filmmakers had been previously impressed by Sean Kanan's intimidating audition (Kanan made sure to intimidate Ralph Macchio to be remembered by the filmmakers who had already seen thousands of other hopefuls), they called Sean Kanan back and told him that he got the role. However, Jonathan did such a great job on his early Mike Barnes screen tests, that the filmmakers wrote the character of Snake for him, a character who was much closer to Avildsen's original portrayal of Mike Barnes. The character of Mike Barnes was described to Sean Kanan by the filmmakers as "a seventeen-year-old white Mike Tyson".

Gallery[]

Trivia[]

  • Mike Barnes was presumably the most evil character in the Karate Kid series given the fact that he was willing to constantly terrorize someone he didn't even know for money. Fortunately, he reformed himself. This leaves Terry Silver as the most heinous Karate Kid villain. However, some people have a theory that Mike could still be a villain, as he still maintains a lot of aggressive behavior.
  • Mike's apparent wife in Cobra Kai is who Mike was on the phone with. Mike calls her "Michele". Sean Kanan's wife in real life is named Michele.
    • Mike's wife rather makes an over the phone cameo appearance rather than a physical one.
  • In the fourth season, during Kreese's arrest, Silver revealed that he'll call upon old friends to help him out with Cobra Kai while Kreese deals with his legal troubles. This hinted Mike Barnes' return, but this is debunked, as it turned out that the "old friends" Silver called upon was Kim Da-Eun, the granddaughter of Kim Sun-Yung, alongside a group of new sensei's to help him out on Cobra Kai's expansion.
  • Due to his return and redemption in the fifth season, Mike Barnes is one of the only ex-rivals of Daniel who had not known about John Kreese's arrest. He is initially the only ex-rival to not even meet Samantha LaRusso or get involved with the other Miyagi-Do's in the fifth season until he will eventually meet Samantha and the Miyagi-Do students in the sixth season.
  • It should be noted that Mike's comment about how he "thought maybe it was just best to leave the past where it is" means he was the only main character in the entire franchise who actually accepted their past actions and moved on, ultimately being content with their place in life. He didn't even want to contact Daniel and apologize because he was concerned it would only cause Daniel even more distress or cause even more problems between the two.
    • Mike claimed that tracking Daniel down and apologizing may have "triggered something". And given that the first time Johnny saw Daniel in years it resulted in the Cobra Kai dojo being started back up, a high school karate riot and multiple near-death cases of hospitalization... maybe Mike was right to want to leave the past in the past.
  • Mike stealing an artifact from Silver's mansion to pay for the damage of his furniture store mirrors Johnny stealing an artifact from Sid's mansion in order to pay for Miguel's surgery.
  • Barnes is the third ex-rival to become one of the senseis of the Miyagi-Do Karate for the preparation of Sekai Taikai in the sixth season.

Navigational[]

           TheKarateKidLogo Villains

Main
John Kreese | Terry Silver | Mike Barnes | Chozen Toguchi | Johnny Lawrence

The Karate Kid
John Kreese | Johnny Lawrence | Dutch | Bobby Brown | Tommy | Jimmy

Part II
Chozen Toguchi | Sato Toguchi | Toshio | Taro | John Kreese

Part III
Terry Silver | Mike Barnes | John Kreese | Snake | Dennis

The Next Karate Kid
Colonel Paul Dugan | Ned Randall | Charlie | Gabe | Morgan

Remake
Master Li | Cheng | Liang | Zhuang | Song

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