Kung Fu (1972–1975)
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After avenging the death of his teacher, a Shaolin monk flees China to the American West and helps people while being pursued by bounty hunters.



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Episode complete credited cast:
John Leoning ...
Master Teh
David Chow ...


From the tiger, he learns tenacity and power. From the white crane, gracefulness. And the dragon teaches him to ride the wind. It could take a lifetime to master just one of the many Kung Fu disciplines. But young Kwai Chang Caine knows them all. He was educated in a Shaolin monastery around 1800 by the monks. Against all forms of violence he face his ultimate challenge when his preferred master was killed by the hands of the imperial forces. After avenging the death of his teacher, as a Shaolin monk, he flees China to the American West and helps people defending the weak and fighting against the evil while being pursued by Chinese bounty hunters. Written by Anonymous

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Release Date:

22 February 1972 (USA)  »

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Richard Loo here plays Shaolin Master Sun, a character he would reprise in two episodes, Kung Fu: Blood Brother (1973) during the first season, and Kung Fu: Besieged: Cannon at the Gates (1974) during the third. He would also feature in three other entries, playing three different characters: Kung Fu: The Tong (1973), Kung Fu: Arrogant Dragon (1974) and Kung Fu: The Devil's Champion (1974). See more »


Master Po: What do you hear?
Caine: I hear the grasshopper.
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Referenced in Fight Club (1999) See more »

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User Reviews

A towering moment in American TV history
17 August 2002 | by (Bethesda, MD) – See all my reviews

A watershed moment in the history of American television. All who fondly remember the TV series should make a point of seeing the pilot, which is a beautifully crafted, lovingly executed piece of work.

It marks, also, the first of Kwai Chang Caine's many adventures in the Wild West; Caine takes up a job laying railroad tracks as part of a gang of cruelly mistreated Chinese immigrant workers. Extensive flashbacks tell the story of Caine's childhood in China, joining the Shao Lin temple after being orphaned, and partaking of a rigorous program of intellectual and physical development.

Thus the pilot combines a fairly conventional Western narrative with a dazzlingly innovative Eastern sequence, which is very much the heart of this movie. The producers did their homework, took infinite pains, and the results speak for themselves. Magical sets, moody photography, and meticulous research create an unforgettable impression; to give but one example, observe the moment when the two Kung Fu masters demonstrate their long choreographed sequences of moves on the temple grounds. Most heartwarming of all are the performances (as Masters Kan and Po) by Philip Ahn and Keye Luke, superb actors who had slogged through two lifetimes of unrewarding ethnic parts in cinema and on TV until each at last achieved the role of a lifetime.

Good work in the American half of the story by Hollywood pros Albert Salmi and Barry Sullivan, plus a stalwart Asian-American cast who went on to lend distinction to the regular episodes in the 3 seasons of KF that followed (Benson Fong, James Hong, many others). And spare a thought for David Carradine, who combined a mix of decorousness and stubbornness and turned this into one of the most unusual characterizations in the history of television.

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