Connect with us


Classic TV Revisited: Kung Fu



Kung Fu (ABC 1972-1975, David Carradine, Keye Luke)

Remember way back in the 1970’s when everybody was kung fu fighting and wearing table tennis balls on their eyes? Western meets martial arts series Kung Fu tapped right into that. David Carradine starred.

Caucasian male who looked vaguely from the Far East wandering around the Old West in a padded jacket, playing the flute, philosophising and occasionally battering others in slow motion.

Sounds like top company for a night in front of the box?
The show was indeed excruciatingly slow-paced at times and had aspirations of being profound, but the fight scenes were knock-out.

That’s foreign in’it?
Most insightful, honourable friend. The show took its name from the martial art honed in China but was set in the Wild West.

A sort of East meets West affair?
A chop suey Western is how some wags have described it. The original idea was developed by martial arts movie legend Bruce Lee.

But Lee got the chop?
TV chiefs feared a foreign hero may be a turn-off for US audiences. David Carradine got the job.

What was it about?
Shaolin monk Kwai Chang Kaine flees to the land of the free from China after avenging the death of his teacher at the hands of imperial forces. Pursued by bounty hunters, he wanders around looking for his long-lost brother.

Giving people the occasional slap?
After much meditation, looking thoughtful, he would finally get down to some scrapping. His foes would look foolish as he cast them aside with a rain of slow-motion blows.

Tell me more about this Shaolin business?
Lots of “Confucius, him say” statements uttered during flashbacks to the hero’s temple days. His guru was Master Khan who had what looked like ping pong balls for eyes.

An accident during a tournament?
No, just blind and deeply profound. A little like Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars, he would challenge the hero to “Snatch the pebble. When you snatch the pebble from my hand, then it will be time for you to leave.” Deep.

Who was in it?
Moon-faced actor David Carradine took the lead. Shakespeare was his great love and he tried to play the role like Hamlet – constantly soul searching. He walked out after three series to pursue a film career, including Karate Kop in ’91.

Any other big names?
Members of his large acting family all appeared at some point. But some major stars of today also passed through, including Harrison Ford, Jodie Foster and William Shatner no less.

Was it popular?
Not hugely but its novelty factor meant it became a talking point. Utter “grasshopper” in an appalling attempt at a Chinese accent to anyone over 40 – and they will instantly know what you’re talking about.

Some claim to fame?
Its slow motion fight scenes and use of flashbacks did win critical acclaim. Episode Eye For An Eye earned Jerry Thorpe an Emmy for direction. The show also inspired a global craze for martial arts.

Any prospect of a return for the Kung Fu kid?
US audiences were treated to a revival in 1992 with Kung Fu: The Legend Lives On. How original. David Carradine returned but as the grandson of the original hero Chang Caine. The standard urban cop drama was redeemd by some martial arts moves.

Do say?
“Grasshopper. Snatch the pebble.”

Don’t say?
“Two chicken chow meins and a Bombay duck, please mate.” and “Oi, ping pong ball-eyes.”

Not to be confused with?
Hong Kong Phooey – the cartoon hound who was a number one super guy but hopeless at the martial arts.



Elementary: The Worms Crawl In, the Worms Crawl Out (CBS 20 Aug 2018, with Victor Williams)Elementary: The Worms Crawl In, the Worms Crawl Out (CBS 20 Aug 2018, with Victor Williams)
Episodes55 mins ago

Elementary: The Worms Crawl In, the Worms Crawl Out (CBS 20 Aug 2018, with Victor Williams)

The Worms Crawl In, the Worms Crawl Out: Holmes and Watson investigate multiple motives for murder when a zoologist is...

Salvation: The Manchurian Candidate (CBS 20 Aug 2018, with Luke Arnold)Salvation: The Manchurian Candidate (CBS 20 Aug 2018, with Luke Arnold)
Episodes60 mins ago

Salvation: The Manchurian Candidate (CBS 20 Aug 2018, with Luke Arnold)

The Manchurian Candidate: Darius, Grace and Harris uncover the darkest secret yet, and Liam reconnects with Jillian. REGULAR CAST: Santiago...

Hard Sun (2018, Jim Sturgess, Agyness Deyn, Hard Sun (2018, Jim Sturgess, Agyness Deyn, 
TV1 hour ago

Hard Sun (2018, Jim Sturgess, Agyness Deyn,

Hard Sun is a pre-apocalyptic crime show set in contemporary London. Charlie Hicks and Elaine Renko are detectives who, while investigating...

Out of the Clouds (1955, Anthony Steel, Robert Beatty)Out of the Clouds (1955, Anthony Steel, Robert Beatty)
Movies11 hours ago

Out of the Clouds (1955, Anthony Steel, Robert Beatty)

Here’s a chance to see how Heathrow looked in the ’50s… Michael Relph and Basil Dearden’s first class Ealing drama...

Green Man, The (British Lion 1956, Terry-Thomas, Alastair Sim)Green Man, The (British Lion 1956, Terry-Thomas, Alastair Sim)
Movies11 hours ago

Green Man, The (British Lion 1956, Terry-Thomas, Alastair Sim)

Two of British cinema’s enduring talents are behind this devilishly funny black comedy: Sidney Launder and Frank Gilliat produced and...

Whitney (2018, Whitney Houston, Gary Houston, Whitney (2018, Whitney Houston, Gary Houston, 
Movies11 hours ago

Whitney (2018, Whitney Houston, Gary Houston,

In this documentary filmmaker Kevin Macdonald examines the life and career of singer Whitney Houston. There is ample never-before-seen archival...

Younger: Fraudlein (TV Land 21 Aug 2018)Younger: Fraudlein (TV Land 21 Aug 2018)
Episodes11 hours ago

Younger: Fraudlein (TV Land 21 Aug 2018)

Fraudlein: The Empirical gang heads to Frankfurt for the world’s biggest annual book fair. Airdate: 2018-08-21 Season 5, Episode 11 With: Debi...

Kes (1969, David Bradley, Freddie Fletcher)Kes (1969, David Bradley, Freddie Fletcher)
Movies12 hours ago

Kes (1969, David Bradley, Freddie Fletcher)

The team of director Ken Loach and producer Tony Garnett, whose highly-regarded television collaborations included such seminal plays as Up...

Unforgotten: Nicola Walker talks season threeUnforgotten: Nicola Walker talks season three
Episodes12 hours ago

Unforgotten Season 3 Finale Sun 19 Aug on ITV

In the season three finale of Unforgotten, airing Sunday 19 August on ITV, following the discovery of items found at his...