Stories of the journeys of a wagon train as it leaves post-Civil War Missouri on its way to California through the plains, deserts and Rocky Mountains. The first treks were led by gruff, ... See full summary »
Western stories and legends based, and filmed, in and around Death Valley, CA. One of the longest-running Western series, originating on radio in the 1930s. The continuing sponsor was "20 Mule Team" Borax, a product mined in Death Valley.
A mountain man who wishes to live the life of a hermit becomes the unwilling object of a long vendetta by Indians when he proves to be the match of their warriors in one-to-one combat on ... See full summary »
Professional gunfighter Paladin was a West Point graduate who, after the Civil War, settled into San Francisco's Hotel Carlton were he awaited responses to his business card: over the ... See full summary »
Hud Bannon is a ruthless young man who tarnishes everything and everyone he touches. Hud represents the perfect embodiment of alienated youth, out for kicks with no regard for the ... See full summary »
When his cattle drivers abandon him for the gold fields, rancher Wil Andersen is forced to take on a collection of young boys as his drivers in order to get his herd to market in time to ... See full summary »
Kwai Chang Caine is a Shaolin Monk who is on the run after he killed the Chinese Emperor's nephew after that coward killed his teacher in cold blood with a gun. He flees to America both to escape retaliation and to search for his brother in order to settle down in this new land. However, in his travels in the wild west, he can not help but continually run into trouble from desperados and other ruffians as they oppress the innocent, while bounty hunters pursue the price on his head. Against this, he has his skill of Kung-fu martial arts which proves to be devastatingly effective in this gun-dominated land. Written by
Kenneth Chisholm <email@example.com>
The only reason this show went off the air was because star David Carradine quit the series. He had sustained so many injuries, he felt he could not go on. The show got high ratings all three seasons it aired. See more »
In the title sequence, the close-up shots of Caine's arms moving into position over the cauldron show his right arm covering both the dragon AND the tiger. See more »
It's a shame that the martial arts craze that this show created (in conjunction with the ascendant popularity of Bruce Lee in the early 1970s), in conjunction with the somewhat cheesy '90s spinoff, has served to somewhat obscure what a gem it truly was.
It's heartbreaking to think that a lot of people who haven't seen the show lump it in as old, campy action television, like "The A-Team" or "Charlie's Angels" or something like that. The fact is, any given hour-long episode of "Kung Fu" probably contained about 45 to 60 seconds of actual action--if not less. The fact is, David Carradine was as good a leading man as any TV drama has ever had.
And the fact is, far from being a cheap exploitation of martial arts and Eastern philosophy, "Kung Fu" was created and written in true reverance to those concepts. Meticulous research was conducted, and the lessons that Masters Kan and Po (wonderfully rendered by Philip Ahn and Keye Luke, respectively) teach Caine, and that Caine in turn teaches those he encounters, are routed in authentic Shaolin philosophy.
Nor was the show cheesily made. It involved lush cinematography by televisual standards and innovative use of devices such as forced perspective and slow motion (this was the first show or movie to use different gradations of speed within a single take--the shot would move at normal speed until Caine made contact with an elbow or a fist, and then suddenly switch to delicate, poetic slow motion).
Caine was a true archetype of television--a complete reversal of basically every American screen hero that went before. Not just peaceful--but passive and serene. As Caine described it--"Kung Fu" was an "anti-revenge television show"--an amazing concept when you think about it.
Remember, the American public was not even acquainted with the phrase "kung fu" before this show. Zen Buddhism was gaining popularity in the late '60s and early '70s, but no one had ever heard of Shaolin monks. The creators of this show took a big risk on an untested concept and came up with TV gold.
I hope that the DVD release will serve to remind us all what a special show this was, and of the lessons it has to teach us.
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