Kung Fu (TV series)
“Kung Fu” the TV serie with David Carradine
The pilot movie for the Emmy-nominated series “Kung Fu” starring David Carradine. He is a man of peace in a violent land. He is Kwai Chang Caine, schooled in the spirit-mind-body ways of the Shaolin priesthood by the blind, avuncular Master Po and the stern yet loving master Kan. Caine speaks softly but hits hard. He lives humbly yet knows great contentment. He is the Old West’s most unusual hero. But hero is not a word Caine would use. He would simply say, “I am a man.”
David Carradine and guest star Sondra Locke, 1974
Kung Fu is an American Western/drama/action series starring David Carradine. The series aired on ABC from October 1972, to April 1975 for a total of 63 episodes. Kung Fu was preceded by a full-length feature television pilot, an ABC Movie of the Week, which was broadcast in 1972.
The series follows the adventures of a Shaolin monk, Kwai Chang Caine (虔官昌 Qián Guānchāng) (portrayed by David Carradine as an adult, Keith Carradine as a teenager and Radames Pera as a young boy) who travels through the American Old Westarmed only with his spiritual training and his skill in martial arts, as he seeks his half-brother, Danny Caine.
Keye Luke (as the blind Master Po) and Philip Ahn (as Master Kan) were also members of the regular cast. David Chow, who was also a guest star in the series, acted as the technical and kung fu advisor, a role later undertaken by Kam Yuen.
Kwai Chang Caine (David Carradine) is the orphaned son of an American man, Thomas Henry Caine, and a Chinese woman in mid-19th century China. After his maternal grandfather’s death he is accepted for training at a Shaolin Monastery, where he grows up to become a Shaolin priest and martial arts expert.
In the pilot episode Caine’s beloved mentor and elder, Master Po, is murdered by the Emperor’s nephew; outraged, Caine retaliates by killing the nephew. With a price on his head, Caine flees China to the western United States, where he seeks to find his family roots and, ultimately, his half-brother, Danny Caine.
Although it is his intention to avoid notice, Caine’s training and sense of social responsibility repeatedly force him out into the open, to fight for justice or protect the underdog. After each such encounter he must move on, both to avoid capture and prevent harm from coming to those he has helped. Searching for his family, he meets a preacher (played by real-life father John Carradine) and his deaf-mute sidekick Sunny Jim (played by brother Robert Carradine), then his grandfather (played by Dean Jagger).
Flashbacks are often used to recall specific lessons from Caine’s childhood training in the monastery from his teachers, the blind Master Po (Keye Luke) and Master Kan (Philip Ahn). Part of the appeal of the series was undoubtedly the emphasis laid, via the flashbacks, on the mental and spiritual power that Caine had gained from his rigorous training. In these flashbacks, Master Po calls his young student “Grasshopper” in reference to a scene in the pilot episode:
Master Po: Close your eyes. What do you hear?
Young Caine: I hear the water, I hear the birds.
Po: Do you hear your own heartbeat?
Po: Do you hear the grasshopper which is at your feet?
Caine: Old man, how is it that you hear these things?
Po: Young man, how is it that you do not?
During four episodes of the third and final season (“Barbary House”, “Flight to Orion”, “The Brothers Caine”, and “Full Circle”), Caine finds his brother Danny, nephew Zeke and two cousins, Joseph and Ezekial.