Monday, October 23, 2006

Episode 3: Blood Brother

"Blood Brother" was a great episode in that it relies not on Caine's fist- and footstifcuff ability but on his cleverness. Also gets into his ninja-like stealth abilities. "A Shaolin priest can walk through walls," says one Chinese character. "It is said that listened for he cannot be heard. Looked for he cannot be seen. Felt he cannot be touched." (Thanks, B.E. Warne.)

The plot is a great one, one I've seen employed before, mose memorably in a movie that was pretty significant for martial arts in western film, Bad Day at Black Rock (1955). That film starred Spencer Tracy as a one-armed man who comes to a small Arizona town looking for an old Japanese acquaintance, Kokomo. It soon becomes clear that something gruesome happened to Kokomo, and Tracy karate-chops his way to justice, exposing the black heart of the whole town. (There's actually only one Asian-fight-type scene, not like Tracy gets all Billy Jack on Ernest Borgnine.)

"Blood Brother" utilizes the same plot. Caine arrives in a town to discover his friend from the Temple, his blood brother, Lin Wu (I hope I'm remebering the name right) has been there, but seems to be missing. His search for Wu brings back memories of their days at the Shaolin Temple together, and reveals that Wu may have been targeting by a gang of toughs. Instead of wrecking Bruce Lee-style vengeance on everyone, however, Caine tricks the toughs into leading them to Wu's body, hidden in an outlying swamp. Caine now has the evidence he needs to turn the toughs over to the law.

There's a somewhat heavy-handed court scene at the end where Caine has to encourage the local, scared Chinese population to take the witness stand but also gives a speech defining humanity for a bigoted courtroom. One of the things I love about this series is when Caine is overshadowed by the other characters, and that doesn't really happen here. But a fun episode nonetheless, with some notable fight scenes, good flashbacks, and a good plot. Three out of four yin-yangs.

By the way, you can see a trailer for Bad Day at Black Rock here.

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Blogger cclosson said...

You need more friends. A man shouldn't have the time to blog about Kung Fu, the series. It's unnatural. Kwai Chang Kang was the shit though. Is it true that Bruce Lee created the part or is that urban legend?

9:18 AM  
Blogger CharlieK said...

Urban legend, my friend. Lee auditioned and didn't get it, whcih really bummed him out, but he went on to better things. (They said his English wasn't very good. To be fair, he had a very thick accent.)

9:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not urban legend, Grasshopper. Bruce Lee did indeed collaborate with the network on the initial development of the show Kung Fu. He planned to call it "The Warrior".

These three things verify his involvement, in my opinion:

I saw an old tape of Bruce Lee being interviewed by a Canadian journalist. He mentions "The Warrior", and that "it is probably not going to happen".

Linda Lee Cadwell, Bruce's widow, stated in a taped interview that her husband had developed the original idea for the Kung Fu television series.

Bruce Lee sent a letter to someone at Warner Brothers, in which he expresses his disappointment at being passed over for the role of Caine, and he asks to be paid $25,000 for the time and effort he put into developing the show over the past year. This letter is included in the published book of his correspondence with various people.

2:20 PM  
Blogger Charlie Kondek said...

Anonymous, that's interesting. That's not the story presented in the literature around this series in books like The Kung Fu Book of Caine by Herbie Pilato. The makers of the series make no mention of this collaboration with Lee in any of the documentaries (From Grasshopper to Caine, for example, referenced on this site). I wonder if there's some confusion - perhaps Lee was developing a similar story and some producers recycled ideas into the Carradine vehicle or pitched ideas to the makers of Kung Fu.

4:57 PM  

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