The Complete Second 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. In 2021 the CW took on the franchise with 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.
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. The new season picks up six months after the explosive events of season one where Nicky and the Shens are in a great place: Nicky's been using her Kung Fu skills to keep Chinatown safe, she and Henry are only deeper in love, and the family are all in the know about Nicky's extracurricular activities. Everything's great...until the reemergence of Russell Tan and the surprise appearance of Nicky's cousin, Mia.
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. Once I got through the first season I had got it down mentally as its own thing and just tried to forget the title and franchise legacy and let the supernatural elements thrive.
I still wasn’t a big fan of the first season as it is the usual CW formula of action romance drama that often times gets bogged down on itself and forced inclusion, but still wanted to give it a chance to see if it improved. This show stands out as a great vehicle of mostly Asian actors getting to shine and for that I applaud the show and glad that it exists, but as an action series on its own merit is pretty bland. The new season is more of the same, but at least has moved in some new directions even though it has kept a lot of the same players from the previous season in play. New additions to the cast move the mystery of Shen’s family in new directions while also bringing new threats.
The action was good for the most part in the first season, but still never what I could have been. This is pretty normal for a first season show as they are trying to find their footing so was willing to give it another try for this season and it did improve. They full on dove right into the supernatural and wuxia aspect of the genre. Some of the fights are great and others are just average at best. This season is better than the first even though there are way too many coincidences and connections to buy into, but that is normal for these kinds of shows.
This is one of those shows that no doubt found an audience and will work for those people. While it was better than the first season it still never really takes advantage of what it could be in my opinion.
Decide for yourself and grab your copy of Kung-Fu: The Complete Second Season available now on Blu-ray and DVD from Warner Bros Home Entertainment.