Monday, February 13, 2006

Kung Fu.. the original series

I was able to borrow a 6 DVD set of all the original episodes of "Kung Fu" the t.v. series starring David Carradine as Caine.

This was the first time that I've ever seen the show. Sure, I knew about the famous "snatch the pebble from my hand, Grasshopper" quote, and a couple of other little scenes just from watching other entertainment. I was astounded by the quality of the show. I feel that this is a creation that will transcend into the future. The magic of the combination of wonderful cinematography, poignant acting, great directing, awesome scripts, and storylines, amazing sets.. oh gosh.. I was entranced.

I found that I enjoyed each part of the series. I LOVED the flashbacks, I found myself looking forwards to them. I could see a thread of a positive moral lesson contained in each episode. One was able to see the worst in people, and at the same time you could see the BEST of people, and in the center of it all, solid, and calm as a pillar in a swirling ocean was Caine.

The deeper inner thoughts of a martial artist striving to follow the "way", "Do", or "Tao" were poetically expressed in simple words that would be difficult to understand if you haven't trained in the arts. My children turned to me more than once saying "What did his Sensei say? That made no sense..." I would just smile, and say "Oh.. it's just martial arts stuff.. You have to think about it."

What I found MOST interesting is how little "martial arts" there actually was in the show itself. The martial arts part was not the main draw of this show. It was there.. sure... but there were many times when it only made up less than 5 percent of the show. I found that I ended up that I didn't really care how well performed, or accurate the fight scenes were, I was so involved in the storyline... However, I have to admit that more than once, my heart surged with the action, and I admired the ability of the artists performing. I really enjoyed the fact that they put some of the more complex movements into slow motion. I would name the techniques as they happened "AH! A backfist to the head, followed by an elbow strike to the middle.. oh wow.. look he swirled him around, and did something that I haven't seen before.."

I saw the quality of the show improved with each successive episode, and when I watched the last show on the set, I found myself longing to see more. My found that the director that appealed the most to me was Robert Butler. There was a special feel to his work that rang within me.

My favorite episode from the first season was "Chains" . Robert Butler directed it, and it aired in March 1973. "Imprisoned in an army outpost, Caine escapes - chained to his hulking, mountain-man cellmate.... and pursued by a relentless sergeant determined to collect the $10,000 reward offered for Caine's capture." I found myself reacting to each moment of the show from the very beginning when I first meet the mountain-man, all the way to the end of the show.

I am grateful for the gift of this show's existence. It is no wonder that it has inspired so many martial artists of today to start walking the path.


John Vesia said...

Did you know that Bruce Lee was originally slated to play the part of Caine? The reason he was passed up: He looked "too Oriental". At least Yul Bryner didn't look too Oriental in "The King and I". Go figure!

[Mat] said...

And to think... that show was Bruce Lee's idea in the beginning.

I wonder if it would have had the same appeal if it had been bruce lee, not David Carridine in the main role.

I haven't seen one complete show. I know there was a follow-up playing on tv a while ago, it just didn't appeal to me much. But I hear fans of the original loved that one.

Well, good day!

John Vesia said...

Hi Mireille...

Re: your comment on my 2/19 post

Having a "serious tone" during training is good, as long as you don't "take yourself too seriously". What I was refering to was the listless approach I quite often see during class. Train with "intent".

Never forget how to laugh, Mireille.


supergroup7 said...

Oh yes, John... I read up on some of the trivia of the Kung fu series. I knew that Bruce Lee had a big moment in there somewhere. Here's a neat tidbit: The Shaolin temple in the show was actually a Camelot set that was re-used. So COOL! I wouldn't have guessed it at all.

Thank you for your comment on having a "serious" tone. I'll remember to keep my joy, and happiness as I train, and balance it with "keeping intent".

supergroup7 said...

You know what, Mat? I haven't seen the follow up one at all. There are fan sites of it on the net though. I've only watched the first season of episodes of the original Kung Fu series. I know that I enjoyed it immensely because I found myself having that little feeling of disappointment that it was over.

I believe that as long as the actor was true to the "Way" of the character "Caine", the show would have had the same appeal regardless of who portrayed him. It isn't the actor that the fans of this show fell enamored with, I believe that it is the wisdom of Karate Do that is held within the words, and actions of Caine, and his Sensei.