It looks as if Fox is looking to kickstart a modern variation of a classic action series with another version of the Kung Fu concept that was such a hit for the late David Carradine during its run from 1972-1975. The series followed Kwai Chang Kaine, a Shaolin priest who is forced to flee from China after he kills the man who murdered his mentor, Master Po. Kaine kept moving to avoid his pursuers and also to find his half-brother in the old American West. The series ran for 63 episodes and Bruce Lee always asserted that he had pitched and openly discussed the concept – then known as ‘The Warrior‘ – before the idea was dropped and Warners conveniently went with a show with the very similar set-up but casting Carradine.
Brandon Lee, Bruce’s son starred as Kaine’s son Chung Wang in a 1986 tv movie version of the concept where Kaine discovers his hitherto unknown son and in 1987, Brandon played Johnny Caine, a descendant in contemporary settings, in Kung Fu: The Next Generation. Carradine returned for Kung Fu: The Legend Continues, playing a modern take on Kwai Chang Kaine for four seasons (eighty-eight episodes) from 1993 to 1997, teamed with Chris Potter as Peter Caine, his son – a police detective. During the last decade there had been talk about reviving the concept in film or tv form, but even though names such as the late Bill Paxton and Baz Luhrmann were mentioned, none of them came to fruition.
According to industry site Deadline, Albert Kim and Greg Berlanti are now set to produce the show that has received a pilot commitment from Fox – essentially meaning they’ll want to see a pilot before deciding if it should go to a full series next year. There have been various attempts to recapture the magic of the original show. This latest version would be different from the others in at least one sense: the main character is a young Chinese-American woman who inherits the family dojo, only to find it’s not only a school teaching martial arts but also a front for a team that secretly help members of the community who have nowhere else to turn. With the help of a former star pupil who is also a Marine, our heroine vows to continue the family legacy including learning more about her celebrated ancestors (whom we presume include at last one version of Carradine’s Caine).
This is not Berlanti’s first crack at the concept. He’d previously worked on another female-led variation of the Kung Fu concept which was actually a period drama set in 1950s America and followed a ‘Lucy Chang’ who travelled across America helping the downtrodden while looking for the man who stole her child. In the end that idea did not go forward.