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Kung Fu


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Product Details

  • Actors: David Carradine, Barry Sullivan, Albert Salmi, Wayne Maunder, Benson Fong
  • Directors: Jerry Thorpe
  • Writers: Ed Spielman, Howard Friedlander
  • Producers: Jerry Thorpe, Alex Beaton
  • Format: NTSC
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • MPAA Rating: R
  • Studio: Warner
  • VHS Release Date: Feb. 10 1998
  • Run Time: 75 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6302816467
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #9,146 in Video (See Top 100 in Video)

Product Description

Amazon.ca

Snicker if you will, but Kung Fu was one of the most influential TV series of the 1970s, one that managed to inject a note of both spirituality and Eastern religion into the standard Western formula and make it seem new. This was the pilot, an intriguing and scene-setting TV movie in which David Carradine starred as the mysterious Caine--half-white, half-Chinese, reared in a Shaolin monastery in China by blind master Po (Keye Luke), then exiled to America, on the run for killing the men who killed his master. The pilot mixes flashbacks to Caine's youth with a story set in the Old West of Caine battling intolerance as he begins the search for his father. --Marshall Fine

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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By Dirk on Aug. 3 2002
Format: VHS Tape
This is certainly by no means an all-time favorite movie of mine, but it's an excellent little flick nevertheless -- especially considering that it was made-for-TV, the pilot for the "Kung Fu" TV series. My wife and I just saw it tonight and quite enjoyed it. At a mere 74 minutes, it's short and sweet, kinda the way I wish more movies would be! It's definitely a Western, as it takes place out West in the late 19th century, but it's unique for this genre in that it incorporates Eastern philosophy/wisdom and martial arts -- sorry, no quick-draw shootouts here.
A great scene appears near the beginning wherein Caine walks into a saloon after walking (!!) across a desert to get some water. Naturally some redneck dork wants to start a fight with him 'cause he's one of them "slant-eyes." Three times the guy attempts to attack Caine and three times Caine swiftly and decisively repels the attacks. The guy wisely decides not to attack again as Caine finishes his water and humbly walks out of the saloon leaving the saloon patrons in astonishment.
There's more martial arts action toward the end, but, it should be noted, this is by no means a standard martial arts flick. The movie teaches humility and respect for elders & all fellow human beings.
Despite the fact that they have very little dialogue, Caine develops a close father/son relationship with blind Master Po.
Some scenes have such a reverent and touching quality to them that they actually brought tears to my eyes .
In Brian Garfield's "Western Films" guide he criticized this film as "Juvenile tripe." With all due respect for the brilliant Mr. Garfield, this film is neither juvenile or tripe! As far as Westerns go, it's quite mature and original. Good Eastern-style music too.
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Format: VHS Tape
KUNG FU is one of the few movies I have ever seen that has respect for a foundation. It is unfortunate that the martial arts are what viewers most often think of when they remember either the movie or the long running television show. Yet, a respect for tradition and a veneration for one's elders form the philosophical underpinning for both. The young Kwai Chang Caine, played modestly by Rademas Pera, portrays Caine as the height of worshipful respect. Having grown up as an orphan, we see in flashbacks, that he and the other village orphans, were invited to visit the local Shaolin monastery. He waits patiently in the rain for days until he is admitted. Once he is, he and a group of ragamuffins sit down at a table laden with food. The other orphans gorge themselves. Young Caine does not. Because he had the manners to wait, he is invited to stay by Master Po. During his years in the monastery, there are many scenes of interaction between him and his Shaolin instructors. It is these vignettes of the Wise Sages instructing the Eager Youth that lend the movie its charm. Caine, played now by David Carradine, grows to adulthood and leaves the temple to wander China. He is forced to kill the Emperor's nephew and must flee to America. These scnes of exposition are required for the movie to make sense. Caine's rise to maturity forms the basis for his encounter with villainous engineers and a renegade monk.
One subtle scene of respect occurs midway in the film when the adult Caine is working on a desert railroad somewhere in the western region of the United States. A heavily loaded wagon threatens to tip over, and Caine rushes over to prop it up with his surprisingly strong skinny arms.
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Format: VHS Tape
Much has been written about the philosophical & moral lessons that can be learned from watching the old "King-Fu" tv series. However, one lesson that can be learned from this show has not been mentioned...a good script & solid acting performances can make up for very bad history done in an American western!
Alright, David Carradine does do a solid acting job as the peaceful, philosophical Buddhist monk roaming the American west. (Yup, like that other early 1970's martial-arts hero "Billy Jack", Carradine's "Caine" preaches "peace" & "brotherhood", until he's harrassed by "rednecks", then he tosses out all of that philosophy & kicks...! This show isn't really a martial-arts showcase. It's a hippie's wish-dream!) The surrogate father/son relationship between Carradine & Keye Luke as the blind master "Po" is solid, & let's face it, the bad guys racial slurs of "Chinaman" & "slanty-man" are delightfully repulsive! (I'm an Asian-american, & I enjoy watching Carradine, who's really a white actor in "yellow-face", kick the stuffings out of the bad-guys after they insult him!) And this tv pilot does have solid social commentary, with the background of the Chinese-american railroad workers as symbolic of American racial-exploitation.
Okay, so what's off about this show? Actually, you can't harp on the lack of martial-arts flash in the fight-scenes, since Hong-Kong movies made about this time (the Shaw Brother's "Duel of The Iron Fist", "Street-Gangs of Hong-Kong", "Seven Blows of The Dragon", etc.) also have sloppy fight scenes! You might harp on the practice of casting a white actor in a Chinese role, but then prior to the 1980's, most well meaning films with an Asian as a central character usually were cast with white actors. (Remember "Dragon Seed?
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