Posted by: wrmcnutt | June 5, 2009

Kung Fu – The Legend Began . . .

David Carradine has passed away.  Young folks today think of David Carradine as the title character from Kill Bill, but they would be wrong.  Bill was merely a follow-up project to keep David busy, for, after all, how could anything top him as Kwai Chang Caine, in Kung Fu.  I never missed an episode of Kung Fu when I was a kid.  Like many of the TV shows from my childhood, Kung Fu has not aged well.  But it’s aged better than, say, Knight Rider.   Back in the day, he played a Chinese-American character named Kwai Chang Caine.  Caine had had to leave China in a hurry, and came to America, looking for his half-brother.  The show was episodic, and something of an homage to the standard American “lone drifter” serials of the 1930’s and 1940’s.  The show would start with Caine walking into town, and encountering prejudice, ignorance, and racism.  Often greed, jealousy, or spite would be included.  Like the lone gunfighter before him, Caine would solve the townsfolk’s problems, and then stride off into the sunset, still looking for his brother.  There was usually a moral lesson, laid on so thick it that the scripts could have been used on a Saturday morning cartoon.

They were cheesy, they were corny, and from the age of about 9 to the age of about 11, I ate them up like, well, cheesy popcorn.

But there was always at least one fight scene that went something like this:

“Hey guys, look, a Chink!”

“Please . . .  Not to mess with me . . . for I am . . .  over qualified . . . to kick your ass.”

“Oh yeah?  Well, I’m gonna hit yew with a haymaker so slow that yew can have a flashback if yew want to.”

The fight scenes were showed in slow motion, so it took David about ten minutes to hit 1 – 5 people three times each, and settle the issue.  And there would, indeed, be a flashback to his youth at the Shao-Lin temple.  The philosophy of the lesson would address the needs of the townspeople in the larger sense, while the physical side of the lesson would address the immediate need to kick someone’s ass.

Without fail, once the video speed returned to normal, assorted furniture would be destroyed, windows broken, and asses duly kicked.  By the end of the hour, the townsfolk’s problems would be solved, the moral preached, and Caine would walk off into the sunset.  Why these idiots in westerns always start off on journeys just when night is coming on and the wolves are coming out is beyond me.  And have you seen the footing on a trail?  Walking those at night is simply begging  for a turned ankle.  And a turned ankle in the wilderness can get you eaten.

Nostalgia is an odd thing.  There’s no way I would tolerate that level of cheese in the TV I watch today, but I find that I miss it at the same time.

Travel well, David.  I hope to see you kicking ass in slow motion on the other side.

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  1. RIP.

    And I hope the rumors about your demise are not true.

  2. Yesterday was a bit darker with this news….And yes he did well as Caine…Shoot I even liked the TV series where they brought back Kung Fu with him as Caine’s Grandchild….He will be missed.

  3. auto-erotic asphyxiation is very common. his legacy will live on !

    • The dude had MONEY and was in Bangkok. He shouldn’t have had to “auto” anything.

  4. auto-erotic asphyxiation people!

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