- "In the past, we've had external enemies. Now the enemy is in our country. It's inside our cities, in our schools. In a war, you have to be ready and able to destroy your enemy. Your school is clean and orderly... because you are ready and able to give a maximum response. Some punk brings spray paint, puts graffiti on our walls... we spray paint his eyeballs so that he sees red. Some kid drops a candy wrapper... you make him pick it up and eat it."
- ―Paul Dugan[src]
He is portrayed by Michael Ironside.
- "By the time I'd left the Army... I had learned one thing. When you go into battle, you must be strong."
- ―Paul Dugan[src]
Based on his brief history, he was a real Colonel in the U.S. Army. Dugan's rank of Colonel is higher than John Kreese, who was a Captain in the Vietnam War. Based on his age and rank in the US Army Special Forces, it is possible that Dugan was in the Vietnam War and potentially knew Kreese, and possibly even Terry Silver and George Turner.
Dugan eventually retired from the military sometime before he applied for his position at the high school. He used what he learned in the army on his students and tried to force more serious techniques on them. Dugan's time in the military had obviously hardened him and made him quite a bit paranoid, as he believed that the war had come to America and that schools were targets of various types of threats, from both minor things such as vandalism to major threats like terrorism. Dugan secretly loved the position of power he got to exercise over his students and enjoyed easily beating them up while claiming that he was trying to "train" them.
The Next Karate Kid
- "The war is not over because one battle's lost."
- ―Paul Dugan[src]
He leads a JROTC-style program called the Alpha Elite at Julie's high school in Boston, Massachusetts, and his style of instruction and morals he instills upon his students are very similar to those of John Kreese from the earlier films. Dugan hates Mr. Miyagi for disrupting his school and his students that attend. He even hated Julie for interfering in their life when she gave them trouble.
He has the police and the school on his side. Eric McGowen was a member of Dugan's class and he needs his recommendation for the Air Force Academy. Eric saw his true colors and how they treat Julie, he got out. They settled this in Mortal Combat. Ned Randall, (who was quite similar to Johnny Lawrence and Mike Barnes), was the squad leader of Dugan's team and his prized student. He spent most of his time harassing Julie and Eric. Ned challenged Eric in combat at "The Docks".
Dugan order his students to torch Eric's car, causing it to explode. After Ned won, beating Eric in the ground. He ordered his them to kill Eric. While Julie and Miyagi saves Eric from beating anymore, Ned also tries to grab and wanted to challenge Julie, because he had a crush on her and was angry that she rejected his advances; only Julie defeated Ned in combat and turn her back on him in disgust. Dugan instantly lose his sanity and commanded his other students to fight Julie, but they refused, now seeing what kind of person Dugan really was, and were now done with him and his program. Dugan bullies them to continue. However, Miyagi challenges Dugan to fight and see who is the better man. Miyagi ends up defeating and humiliating him easily.
When Dugan's students saw his true colors, they ditched him and his program. He lost his students, his program and his dignity when he was defeated by Mr. Miyagi for good, and the Alpha Elite was shut down for good as well. His later fate is unknown.
- "When the enemy is weakest, that's when you destroy them."
- ―Paul Dugan[src]
As mentioned earlier, he was a part of the army, which means he had developed a cold and serious demeanor. He's very authoritative and strict when it comes to a student disobeying him or getting in trouble. Dugan is likely on par with John Kreese & Master Li as far as threat level and insanity go, except he is slightly worse as he is much colder and authoritarian. He also tried to convince his students to kill Eric (one of his own students, no less), had his students destroy a car with explosives and advocated for cruel and unusual punishment — such as instructing his students to force people to pick up and eat the litter they dropped (which Kreese never even did).
Based on his personality, Dugan is likely either a psychopath or a sociopath.
Dugan excels at counter-fighting. He is particularly expert in grappling reversals; an opponent who grabs him will quickly find himself on the ground. He easily holds his own against several members of the Alpha Elite at once in a training drill. However, his actual offense was too slow and predictable for Miyagi, who easily dodged and later caught Dugan's punches, defeating him with little effort.
The character of Colonel Dugan has largely been overshadowed and forgotten, but the character's total insanity is deemed somewhat memorable, even being pointed out by The Nostalgia Critic in his review of the film. In the Den Of Geek article "Ten Remarkable Things About The Next Karate Kid", the character of Colonel Dugan is listed at number two. The article reads: "Yes, one of the finest character actors currently working appears in The Next Karate Kid. Curiously, the filmmakers introduce this talented performer not with a grand, villainous entrance (because, let’s face it, when Michael Ironside appears on a movie’s credits, you can be fairly certain he’s playing a bad guy), but with a montage cut to M-People’s Moving On Up. While this up-tempo 90s dance number plays in the background, Ironside skulks in a high school corridor, a vein on the right side of his head subtly pulsing. We’ll get to exactly who Ironside plays in a moment, but for now, his expression says it all: this is the man who really hates M-People."
- Dugan is the only main antagonist to be defeated by Mr. Miyagi in the film's climax.
- His characteristics make him similar to both Master Li & John Kreese.
- Dugan's philosophy implies that he might have met John Kreese, Terry Silver, and George Turner during the Vietnam War.
- Dugan is most likely around the same age as Kreese and Silver, which would make him suitable to enlist or be drafted in the Vietnam War. He was probably born between 1945-1948, which makes sense, which would make him in his early 70s now in the Cobra Kai timeline.
- It is unknown if Michael Ironside will reprise his role as Dugan in Cobra Kai.