Kung Fu (1972-1975)
Kung Fu - The Legend Continues (1993-1996)
Type: Spin Off
Oh the shame that the half-assed spin off of a classic show actually had a longer run than the original.
Kung Fu took a number of TV cliches and crafted them into an utterly unique show. It was a western and it was a chase show and yet managed to be more than either of these simple show formulas.
Kung Fu told the story of Kwai Chang Caine, a half Chinese and half American young man. Raised in China, he was forced to flee to the American West after killing a member of the royal family. Unlike most western heroes and despite his mastery of the martial arts (kung fu), Caine was a man of peace and avoided violence whenever possible.
As I've said it was also a chase show along the lines of The Fugitive or The Incredible Hulk. Caine spent the run of the show traveling from western town to western town searching for his brother, helping people along the way and being pursued at the same time by people still miffed about that whole "royal family killing" thing. And although he tried to avoid using violence just like David Banner tried to avoid becoming the Hulk, you just knew every week some idiot would provoke him into kicking some major kung fu ass! But again, the show managed to be more than just a cheap action western. It managed to convey a level of intelligence rare in such a show.
Caine was played by David Carradine, a white actor and a member of a famous acting family. He did a good job but it is sad that he had the part. Why? Well martial arts legend Bruce Lee helped conceive the show and by all rights should have played Caine. Only because of when the show was made, the networks didn't want a Chinese lead. They wanted a white star. The same sort of logic that brought you Charlton Heston as a Mexican lawyer in Touch Of Evil. Ironically, nowadays the networks would KILL to have a series with a non-white lead to quell complaints by the public about the lack of ethnic diversity in prime time. Bad timing man. Years later some justice was done when Bruce Lee's son Brandon appeared in a Kung Fu reunion TV movie.
Years after the reunion movie, Kung Fu was revived again by the PTEN syndication service in the form of Kung Fu - The Legend Continues. The show again starred David Carradine as Kwai Chang Caine but instead of being set in the old west the setting was now present day California. Huh? How is that possible? Caine would be over a hundred years old right? Simple: this Caine was the grandson of the original Kung Fu's Caine who just happened to look exactly like Grampy Caine. In fact it was suggested that the current Caine was the reincarnation of the original one.
Kung Fu - The Legend Continues centered on the new Caine who, like his grand dad, was a Shaolin priest, as well as on his police detective son Peter. Together they fought crime kung fu style. There was lots of supernatural goings on as well: magical villains, magical powers, evil spirits, time travel... Here's the thing. I don't remember any of this crap in the original show. All its mysticism was of the philosophical and real sort, not of the hack fantasy adventure variety.
In the show's third season the new Kung Fu actually crossed over with the original Kung fu. Get this. The original Caine travels forward in time to enlist the aid of his grandson (the 1990 Caine) in helping him save his wife and son from kidnappers in the old west. What ends up happening is that the two swap places with "Old West" Caine stuck in the 1990s and 1990's Caine thrown into the wild old west and having to save his grandmother and his own father! See, if he fails he won't be born! Its Back To The Kung Fu-ture. hehehe. Uh, anyway he sadly succeeded and so Kung Fu: The Legend Continues still happened.
The episode also featured cameos from many other famous western actors. One of them, Clint Walker, even appeared as Cheyenne Bodie, the character he played in the western series Cheyenne.
The original classic went three years. The dopey hokey spin off went four. Trying to snatch the logic from this situation would be more difficult than Caine trying to snatch the pebble from his master's hand.Other Kung Fu Crossover Links
Kung Fu and Bat Masterson
Kung Fu and Cheyenne
Kung Fu and Cheyenne Part 2
Kung Fu and Have Gun Will Travel
Kung Fu and Kung Fu - The Legend Continues Part 2
Kung Fu and The Life And Legend Of Wyatt Earp
Kung Fu and Maverick
Kung Fu and The Rifleman
Other Kung Fu - The Legend Continues Crossover Links
Kung Fu - The Legend Continues and Cheyenne
Kung Fu - The Legend Continues and Kung Fu Part 2
Kung Fu Season 2 DVD article!
Click here to return to main Crossover List
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