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Kung Fu
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TV Series
    (October 14, 1972-April 16, 1975)
    ABC western/drama (60 episodes)
    David Carradine as Kwai Chang Caine
    Keye Luke as Master Po
    Philip Ahn as Master Kan
    Radames Pera as young Kwai Chang Caine
    Premise: In the late 1800s an orphaned son of an American man and Chinese woman (Caine) is trained by monks to become a Shaolin master, but must flee to the Wild West of the U.S. after killing the nephew of the Chinese emperor in revenge for the murder of Master Po
    With a price on his head he wanders the West to find his half-brother Danny, encountering both unruly thugs and hired Chinese assassins, armed only with his skills as a Kung Fu master
    Spawned 'Kung Fu: The Movie' (1986), 'Kung Fu: The Next Generation' (1987) and 'Kung Fu: The Legend Continues' (1993-97)
    Bruce Lee was considered for the lead, but TV execs felt American audiences weren't ready for an Asian actor in a lead role.
    Lee's widow insists he was the one who created the concept and Warner Brothers stole the idea.
    Nepotism alert: Carradine got his brothers Keith, Robert and Bruce, as well as his father John, in episodes.
    Caine's nickname was 'Grasshopper,' he was constantly 'seeking water,' and seemed to wander around the Old West 99% of the time without shoes (handy for those kung fu fight scenes).
    To tie loose ends together (and at times the storyline itself) the show used flashback scenes, ad nauseum.
    The 'Kung Fu: The Next Generation' pilot was supposed to launch a TV series, but it wasn't picked up.
    At the opposite end, 'Kung Fu: The Legend Continues,' lasted one year longer than the original series.
    The show successfully captured TV audiences and high ratings at the height of the '70s 'martial arts craze.'
    To show some of Carradine's smooth moves the use of slow motion was incorporated into fight scenes.
    The final four episodes did have Caine locating his half-brothers as well as two cousins.
    The series could have continued beyond three seasons but injuries sustained by Carradine took a toll and he couldn't physically do the show anymore.
    The show won three Emmys - one for Best Director and another for Best Cinematography of an episode (both in 1973), and a third for actor Lew Ayers for Supporting Actor in a Comedy or Drama Series (1975).
    Notable guest stars on the series include Harrison Ford, Jodie Foster, Don Johnson, William Shatner and Barbara Hershey.
    The Asian acting community was steadily employed as extras during the series run and Carradine's relationship with them was one of mutual admiration.
    There were no lasting bitter feelings by the Lee family to the point that Brandon Lee was hired for both 'Kung Fu: The Movie' and 'Kung Fu: The Next Generation.'
    Carradine spoofed his Caine character on a 1980 episode of ' Saturday Night Live.'

Credit: Scar Tactics


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