Kung Fu Last Night.

I just watched the oringinal pilot for Kung Fu.

It was better than I remembered, and I remembered it being damn good.

Really holds up, the flashbacks to his training, interspersed with the trouble he finds himself in the middle of, great.

Good philosophy.

“When you can snatch the pebble from my hand, then it will be time for you to leave.”

I loved the show.

I watched part of the first season a couple months ago. I’m not sure its aged well, we’ve had too many movies with good martial-arts since then, so David Carridine vaguely waving his hands and feet around while wearing shiny PJ’s looks a lot sillier now then it did then.

That said, I was impressed by how much they stuck to Caine being a pacifist. There are a lot of TV heros that claim to be “pacifists”, but quickly resort to fighting about 5 minutes into each episode. But Caine’s commitment to not pulling out his fists until someones life is in immediate danger is pretty consistent, and they don’t romanticize it, as he really lets evil people walk all over him and hurt other innocent people in a way thats hard to watch when you know he could Kung-Fu their butts in seconds if he tried.

That, combined with the sort of other-worldy, unapproachable way Carridine played Caine seemed really gutsy choices for the show. He’s pretty much the only consistant character, and yet they made him both not particularly charismatic and adhere to a philosophy that is sort of anti-thetical to the usual shoot-em up western.

I have the series on DVD. By today’s standards it is pretty flawed, but I so loved the show when I was a kid watching its first run, I couldn’t resist buying the series when it became available.

I’ve spotted a few period errors in various scenes. One was hugely obvious. The scene was an exterior shot filmed in some canyon (I think I know where.) The camera pulls back into a wide shot and on the ridge line in the distance are high tension power line towers. Another error I spotted is less so obvious. The scene takes place on the street in some western town. I am guessing it was shot in one of the many “ghost towns” that cater to the tourist trade. I say this because one of the signs on a shop in the background is Antiques. Somehow I don’t think there were many antique stores in the late 1800s.

Wait, wasn’t everything an antique back then?

I still like the series - but then again I agree with the odd sort of treatment. Caine is played as a very passive observer - very different from pretty much everything else on TV. I am not into the whizbang kung fu movies, I like Jackie Chan but really dont give a crap for all the chop sake crap, I like him for the comedy. I like Kung Fu for the way it treats the stories, not the fighting.

I was a huge fan as a kid (had and still have a metal Kung Fu lunchbox), and a couple of years ago got the series and rewatched it. It’s definitely dated, and some of the stories don’t hold up, but I think that for its time, it was pretty breakthrough in the way it portrayed a lot of the tension between Caine’s pacifism and the brutality of the American West.

In the pilot the fighting was almost secondary.

Does anyone remember Kung Fu: The Movie? It came out in the mid 80s. I haven’t seen it since and it’s not available on DVD. The only part of the movie that I can readily recall was when someone went up into an attic type space where Kwai Change was meditating, they saw him levitating.

after nearly 10 years of practicing and studying together, they find themselves in an alley brawl in the capital city and didn’t come out too good. that’s the only dumb part of the first episode.

This was usually true in the whole series as well. I can remember a stand-out episode, the one where Dan George plays the indian who wants to be buried in a town’s main street, that had only one small fight scene (when some of the yokels start messing with George and Caine kicks their collective asses). That episode also had a who’s who list of TV guest stars:[ul]
[li]Chief Dan George (played every indian role from the 60s thru the 80s)[/li][li]Denver Pyle (uncle Jesse from Dukes of Hazzard)[/li][li]Victor French (Mr. Edwards from Little House)[/li][li]Will Geer (Grampa Walton)[/li][/ul]

I don’t understand what you mean. You mean when master Po gets shot by the royal whom Caine then kills? What was dumb about that?

they: instead of just standing aside to let a royal retinue pass, they played toughie and paid for it.

other side: i always thought shaolin monks were “hands-off” even for royalty?

I believe you are correct, on both counts.

Bear in mind, the firearm was not usual. And Caine did easily spear the royal nephew.

How different would it have been if Bruce Lee got the part - the idea was his after all


That’s just a great line, and I can hear it being said nonchalantly to great comic effect.

The Lucasian chair of mathematics at Cambridge University was given to Great Antibob, whose actual knowledge and skill in physics were vastly inferior to that of Stephen Hawking.

Based on the little bit I’ve seen of Bruce Lee, he seems to be too intense to play a serene pacifist.

Based on the title, “The Warrior”, and the description, it sounds like they re-worked the premise quite a bit. The original treatment sounds like a traditional Western with kung-fu replacing guns for the hero.


I think thats actually the genius of making Kaine a mellow pacifist. Since the whole premise of the show is that he has super-Kung Fu and more or less automatically wins every physical fight, there wouldn’t really be much tension if he just whipped out his martial arts at every opportunity.

With Bruce Lee, its kinda hard to picture him playing an otherworldly monk, plus there’d probably be more pressure for the writers to showcase his martial arts skills, since he didn’t suck at it like Carridine.

So I guess: thank you American Racism, for inadvertently making 70’s TV more interesting by preventing a Chinese person from having the lead role in Kung Fu.

Actually, Bruce Lee didn’t get the role primarily because his accent was too think and TPTB thought no one would be able to understand him.