Kung Fu

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ABC (ended 1975)

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User Score: 128

8.3
out of 10
User Rating
283 votes
8

SHOW REVIEWS
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Kung Fu

Show Summary

This series follows the adventures of Kwai Chang Caine, a Shaolin priest, in the American West. Caine was an orphan of a Chinese-American marriage, and was schooled in a Shaolin monastery, by his mentors, Masters Po and Kan. Through his life's journeys, he remembers the lessons and philosophy they imparted him with, in dealing with the prejudices and problems he faced. A man of peace, though trained to defend himself, Caine always made an attempt to address situations in a way that was morally acceptable to his beliefs, and to resolve them through least violent means possible. His journey is not only one across the frontier of America but one through the light and dark areas of the soul as well.
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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • My favorite series that I would see a hundred times

    10
    I was very small. At that time, I did not see any series that is not cartoon. But I loved Kung Fu.

    The series was translated into Spanish, my native language and this was emitted in Spain chain TVE1

  • Kwai Chang Caine (David Carradine) wanders the late 19th Century American West, sometimes aimlessly... sometimes with purpose. An orphan born in China to mixed parentage of American and Chinese, he finds himself fitting into neither world perfectly.moreless

    9.8
    This is one of the most singular series ever produced. A person of mixed lineage espousing peace while dealing with assorted adventures and trials involving martial arts, most prevalent being the fact that he has a price upon his head for a crime he is wanted for in China, by the Emperor no less.



    Throughout the the shows run, both the scripts and Carradine stay within the noble parameters set out by the tenets of his faith and discipline as a Shaolin priest. Though he may fight in self defense or for the protection of others, he doesn't succumb to the temptation of trying to kill his opponents despite the fact that he clearly has the physical capacity to do so.



    The stories follow two lines, his wanderings in the American West and the recollections of his years in China:



    The first is populated by an extremely wide variety of persons, each either entering his life as a threat or he entering theirs as a possible teacher, confessor or protector.



    The memories mostly revolve around his interaction with the priests who reared him (mainly Masters Po [Key Luke]and Kan [Phillip Ahn]). Many times they go as far back as his childhood (portrayed by Radames Pera). Nearly always, the memories pertain to an event or lesson that sheds light on his perception of the adventure on hand.



    The fact that Caine is presented with the full human experience - with multiple strengths, weaknesses, influences and what I find exceptionally important, the ability to reassess and alter his behavior - makes the show a rich offering. His teachings, parables and demonstrative actions would carry far less import if he did as most heroes are shown. As with most great characters it is hard to ignore Shakespeare's examples... and as we well know, though many might try to emulate or simply copy the Great Bard, few ever attain his depth of characterization. Because Carradine's performance rings true, making Caine believable, it is often easy to forget he is indeed acting.

    Since his embodiment of the lead role is of the utmost quality, when coupled with such a full persona it lends credence to the ethic of the tales without being compromised by whatever violence occurs. Thus the stories and messages stay with you.



    As is the general rule with classic television with involved plots, we are served numerous fine actors as guest stars. Perhaps my personal favorites are: John Saxon in the very first episode after the pilot (King of the Mountain) and Morgan Woodward late in season two in The Nature of Evil. Still there are dozens of others very good guest turns which upon reflection I might rate as high.



    The only thing that keeps me from rating Kung Fu as perfect is the fact the the third season drifted from the lofty level of quality uniformly presented in the first two.moreless
  • One of my childhood favorites

    8.8
    Have you ever heard of the book "Everything I Needed to Know, I Learned in Kindergarden"? Well, everything I needed to know I learned watching Kung Fu, and I think Quintin Tarrentino would agree with me. Besides being a kick a@@ action show it also imparted a lot of great eastern philosophy. David Carradien was excellent as Caine, the half breed wandering the American fronteer, confronting racism and injustice at every turn. First with words and then, if need with his hands and feet. This is a true television clasic. If you are to young to remember this gem, or you want to relive those glory days, all three seasons are on DVD.moreless
  • Nice choise!

    7.2
    It's a shame that the martial arts craze that this show created (in conjunction with the ascendant popularity of Bruce Lee in the early 1970s), in conjunction with the somewhat cheesy '90s spinoff, has served to somewhat obscure what a gem it truly was.



    It's heartbreaking to think that a lot of people who haven't seen the show lump it in as old, campy action television, like "The A-Team" or "Charlie's Angels" or something like that. The fact is, any given hour-long episode of "Kung Fu" probably contained about 45 to 60 seconds of actual action--if not less. The fact is, David Carradine was as good a leading man as any TV drama has ever had. And the fact is, far from being a cheap exploitation of martial arts and Eastern philosophy, "Kung Fu" was created and written in true reverance to those concepts. Meticulous research was conducted, and the lessons that Masters Kan and Po (wonderfully rendered by Philip Ahn and Keye Luke, respectively) teach Caine, and that Caine in turn teaches those he encounters, are routed in authentic Shaolin philosophy.



    Nor was the show cheesily made. It involved lush cinematography by televisual standards and innovative use of devices such as forced perspective and slow motion (this was the first show or movie to use different gradations of speed within a single take--the shot would move at normal speed until Caine made contact with an elbow or a fist, and then suddenly switch to delicate, poetic slow motion).



    Caine was a true archetype of television--a complete reversal of basically every American screen hero that went before. Not just peaceful--but passive and serene. As Caine described it--"Kung Fu" was an "anti-revenge television show"--an amazing concept when you think about it.



    Remember, the American public was not even acquainted with the phrase "kung fu" before this show. Zen Buddhism was gaining popularity in the late '60s and early '70s, but no one had ever heard of Shaolin monks. The creators of this show took a big risk on an untested concept and came up with TV gold.moreless
  • chinese kung-fu monk in the west, wanted dead or alive for murder (in self-defense), drama and action, character constantly reminesces about his teachings at the temple that apply to the situation at handmoreless

    8.3
    I would occasionally get frustrated at his mild fighting techniques or passivity all together, but believe that this was very realistic in the portrayal of the character. If you are used to Van Damm or Seagal, than this show won't cut it! This is more drama than action to these greats. As far as TV goes however, it was even better than Star Trek's Captain Kirk fight scenes. Some philoshical ideas come up on each episode. They are Chinese (at least portrayed as such (Budhist?)), but I felt could be applied to a Christian American person as well. I don't think Carradine played a nicer character in his whole career! (He is a veteran actor, so my limited knowledge likely is wrong. See IMDb)moreless
  • [UPDATE] KUNG FU STAR'S DEATH NOW BEING CALLED "ACCIDENTAL"; 75-YEAR OLD ALSO STARRED IN KILL BILL.

    Actor David Carradine found dead

    David Carradine was found dead in the Thai capital of Bangkok, the Associated Press is reporting. The 72-year-old Carradine was in Thailand shooting a film, and was reportedly found early Thursday morning by a maid with a rope around…

  • ARE YOU A FAN OF THE FASHION INDUSTRY? DON'T MISS THIS TUESDAY'S RELEASE OF PROJECT RUNWAY SEASON THREE. ALSO THIS WEEK, STEPHEN COLBERT CAN GIVE YOU A UNIQUE LOOK AT POLITICS IN THE BEST OF THE COLBERT REPORT.

    November 6, 2007 DVD Releases

    • R.I.P. David
      Read the news this morning and am still waiting to see what the official cause of daeth was, tabloid rumor mills aside. Sensation...
      08/09/10
      4
    • Kung Fu
      The title of this rather new age western is misleading. It suggests a chop-socky orgy, but it is nothing of the sort. It was a hig...
      04/03/09
      7
    • what episode is this quote from?
      Just wondering if anybody can let me know what episode this quote is from: "Why should someone else decide if you're happy?" I lov...
      05/24/08
      1
    • Kung Fu Movie Announced!
      Variety.com reports that a screnplay has been optioned for this from Ed Spielman and Howard Friedlander, who worked on the origina...
      02/10/07
      3
    • New Editor
      Hats off to the new Editor, Lobo.  A fine job he has done updating and correcting show info.  I look forward to more of the same...
      09/10/06
      4
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