Kung Fu

Season 1 Episode 1

The Way Of The Tiger, The Sign Of The Dragon

2
Aired Unknown Feb 22, 1972 on ABC
8.9
out of 10
User Rating
25 votes
3

EPISODE REVIEWS
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Episode Summary

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The Way Of The Tiger, The Sign Of The Dragon
AIRED:
In the 19th century, Kwai Chang Caine, an orphan of a Chinese-American marriage, is schooled at a Shaolin monastery in China, learning philosophy and self-defense. Later in his life, one of his teachers is murdered and he lashes out, killing a member of the Royal court. He is forced to flee and comes to the American West. Caine has a price on his head from the Chinese government and must face bounty hunters as well as agents of the Emperor who are determined to kill him.moreless

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • This is a well presented pilot giving an excellent introduction to the main characters.

    9.0
    We learn how Kwai Chang Caine became known as Grasshopper and that it was his respect for his elders that won him a place in the Shaolin monastery. Throughout the series, Caine is identified as a Shaolin Priest by the dragon scars on the insides of his arms and it is during this Pilot episode, we learn how he attained these 'badges of honour'. We also find out why Caine becomes a wanted man in China and that this is the reason he flees to America. Caine's past (monastery training in China) is shown through many different flashbacks and these continue throughout the series. Radames Pera played a very convincing young Caine and David Carradine's younger half brother Keith played adolescent Caine. Keith only got one line and was obviously cast because he looked like his brother. Phillip Ahn, who played Master Kan, had a superb speaking voice which was very well suited to his character. Keye Luke's blind Master Po was also a pleasure to watch. David Carradine's Kwai Chang Caine was simply brilliant and I cannot imagine any one else playing him. I am aware of the controversy re who should have been cast as Caine but that can't take away from David Carradine's excellent portrayal of such a unique character.



    My only problem, which I never let bother me too much, was that despite many characters on the show saying Caine looked Chinese, I never once thought David Carradine looked even slightly Chinese.moreless
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  • Caine is a Shaolin priest with a price on his head. Through flashbacks we learn all about his past and see how he deals with the present.

    10
    Kung Fu the legendary series’s pilot was excellent. This is perhaps one of the best TV pilots I have seen in my entire life. David Carradine as Caine and Keye Luke as Master Po presents incredible acting and breathtaking dialogue and moments that classify Kung Fu not just as a great action show but a great acting show as well.



    In the early moments, we get to know Caine as a boy and how he was chosen by the Shaolin temple to train to be a Shaolin priest because of his grace and manners. We learn that he really is half American. We see the transformation from child to teen to adult. Caine doesn’t understand the incredible knowledge the monks possess as he misjudges Master Po (as a blind man) to be helpless but as we see through his intense training (where Po beats him) that Po is a force to be reckon with.



    The show and pilot movie also establishes the constant use of flashback that would for the show well when Caine has a special moment. We see Caine walking across the desert (as he would in many episodes) and come across a western territory where Chinese people are used as cheap labor to finish a railroad and dig for minerals. An engineer tells the man in charge (Mr. Dillon and his goons Raif) that digging in the area is dangerous as some places have explosive resources.



    Dillon doesn’t care as it’s not his life on the line. Caine develops a friendship with Hai Fong who has brought in the area to work.



    We learn why Caine is here. He is wanted for murder but when we see the flashback we see that murder should be pinned on the royal family of China. His master was murdered by a brute escort of the royal family. Caine responds by killing him and beaten up his associates.



    When Mr. Dillon finds out about this it leads to more trouble for Caine, but as we see Caine can take of himself.



    There’s a short but interesting feature on the making of the pilot on the DVD. We learn how Asian and fight choreographers were brought in to make the series authentic. In retrospect, the guys that pitch the series knew little about what is “Kung Fu”. It’s out of luck and chance that the pilot was approved by ABC. Even when we hear Carradine’s thoughts on the matter it doesn’t sound like he had much faith. Carradine though is definitely glad he did this because out of the things he’s done this pilot and series is at the top of his career.moreless
Barry Wullivan

Barry Wullivan

Dillon

Guest Star

Albert Salmi

Albert Salmi

Raif

Guest Star

Wayne Maunder

Wayne Maunder

McKay

Guest Star

Richard Loo

Richard Loo

Master Sun

Recurring Role

James Hong

James Hong

Hslang

Recurring Role

Victor Sen Yung

Victor Sen Yung

Chuen

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

FILTER BY TYPE

  • TRIVIA (1)

    • It's stated that Master Po wants to visit the forbidden city in the fifth month in the Year Of The Dog. The only time that occurred in this time-frame, with Caine's being an adult and The Dog only coming every 12 years, would be 1874. Since the episode dates itself as the present being in 1873, with Caine already in America, then Po's visit and Caine's flight from China would have had to occurred in 1862. Either Caine ages very slowly or he ran so fast from China he skipped a decade.

  • QUOTES (10)

    • Master Kan: Quickly as you can, snatch the pebble from my hand.
      (Young Caine tries and fails)
      Master Kan: When you can take the pebble from my hand, it will be time for you to leave.

    • Caine: If one's words are not better than silence, one should keep silent.

    • Master Kan: To hit a target is to exercise the inner strength. Indeed there are two kinds of strengths. The outer strength is obvious: it fades with age and succumbs to sickness. Then there is the chi, the inner strength. Everyone possesses it, too. But it is indeed much more difficult to develop. The inner strength lasts through every heat and every cold. Through old age and beyond.

    • Master Po: Close your eyes. What do you hear?
      Young Caine: I hear the water. I hear the birds.
      Master Po: Do you hear your own heartbeat?
      Young Caine: No.
      Master Po: Do you hear the grasshopper which at your feet?
      (Caine opens his eyes and sees a grasshopper at his feet)
      Young Caine: Old Man, how is it that you hear these things?
      Master Po: Young Man, how is it that you do not?

    • (Caine tries creeping up on Master Po, after they have been apart five years)
      Master Po Grasshopper! Did you think you could fool me? It would take more than years for me to forget the footsteps of my favorite pupil.

    • Master Kan: In the Shaolin temple there are three kinds of men: students, disciples and masters. Development of the mind can be achieved only when the body has been disciplined. To accomplish this, the ancients have taught us to imitate God's creatures.

    • Master Kan: When you can walk the rice paper without tearing it, then your steps will not be heard.

    • (Commenting on Master Po's blindness)
      Young Caine: You cannot see.
      Master Po: You think I cannot see?
      Young Caine: Of all things, to live in darkness must be worst.
      Master Po: Fear is the only darkness.

    • Master Kan: Avoid, rather than check. Check, rather than hurt. Hurt, rather than maim. Maim, rather than kill. For all life is precious, nor can any be replaced.

    • Master Kan: Remember always that a wise man walks with his head bowed; humble like the dust.

  • NOTES (6)

    • Benson Fong previously appeared with co-star Philip Ahn in the Have Gun, Will Travel episode, The Hatchet Man.

    • The Warner first season DVD release incorrectly mattes this and all other episodes at a 1:78 ratio instead of the 1:33 ratio they were originally aired in.

    • Ed Spielman wrote the 75-page basis for this pilot, "The Way Of The Tiger, The Sign Of The Dragon," in 1969 and it was purchased by Warner Bros. in 1970. The name was later changed to "Kung Fu" for the purprose of it being a plank for a regular series.
      When this pilot was released for sale on DVD in the late 1990s, this original title was restored on the packaging.

    • First of three appearances in this series for Benson Fong; he later appears in The Brujo and Kung Fu: The Movie.

    • The Shaolin temple used for this and the series was actually a redressed set from the 1967 film Camelot.

    • The pilot dates itself around November 21st 1873.

  • ALLUSIONS (0)

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