Kung Fu

Season 1 Episode 1

The Way Of The Tiger, The Sign Of The Dragon

3
Aired Unknown Feb 22, 1972 on ABC
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Episode Fan Reviews (3)

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8.9
out of 10
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25 votes
  • 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.
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    10
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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.
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