The Complete First Season review by Bobby Blakey
“Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-rayTM I reviewed in this Blog Post. The opinions I share are my own.”
In 1972 the series Kung-Fu debuted on ABC starring David Carradine. The concept fo the series came from martial arts icon Bruce Lee, but sadly was not involved as he should have been. The series ran for three seasons as well as a pilot for a new series in 1987 starring the late Brandon Lee and a revival series in 1993. Now the CW has taken on the franchise to bring an all new version of the show aptly titled Kung-Fu starring Olivia Liang, Kheng Hua Tan, Eddie Liu, Shannon Dang, Jon Prasida, Gavin Stenhouse, Vanessa Kai, Tony Chung and Tzi Ma. Could this latest version live up to the legacy of the original or will it fail to hit its chi?
Kung Fu follows a young Chinese-American woman Nicky Shen who has a quarter-life crisis causing her to drop out of college and journey to an isolated monastery in China. But when she returns to San Francisco, she finds her hometown is overrun with crime and corruption and her parents are at the mercy of a powerful Triad. Nicky will right wrongs while searching for the assassin who killed her Shaolin mentor.
I can’t lie despite the gender swap and obvious change to the story I was interested to see what this show had to deliver. There is both good and bad with the show, but the biggest issue is really it being connected to the original series in name at all. Had they come up with another name for the show it would have worked way better as its own thing and instead feels like a failed attempt at reviving the legacy and in turn made it hard to get past.
Attempting to let that go and judge the show for what it is it works off and on. If you have ever watched any CW show then you know what you are getting as it hits all the usual tropes to these action romance dramas. I love that we have a show that keeps the focus on a predominantly Asian cast that not only brings some various natures of their culture to the story while still trying to find
balance and just be its thing. Sadly it is encompassed in a pretty generic and mostly forgettable show that just doesn’t work most of the time.
The action side of it all that should be a dominate element given the title is also a mixed bag. Some of the fights are great and others are just bad. I loved seeing martial arts action stars like Gary Daniels make appearances, but not even that was enough to really save this show. There is one episode in particular that dealt with the racial tensions that was happening in the real world that actually stepped its game and was really good.
This gave me hope for the remainder of the season, but then it fell back into its same formula.
This is one of those shows that no doubt found an audience and will work for those people, but for me it was a big misstep. I may possibly give the show another shot with season two to see if it is more suffering from season one jitters, but not holding my breath.
Decide for yourself and grab your copy of Kung-Fu: The Complete First Season available now on Blu-ray and DVD from Warner Bros Home Entertainment.