Friday, May 07, 2010

The Brujo

“The Brujo” is one of those episodes people seem to remember about Kung Fu. (Another is “The Cenotaph.”) It’s a terrific episode pulled slightly askew by what seems to me an unnecessary sub-plot. I feel that often, because the show followed a four-act format rather than a three- or five-act that might have given it a bit more symmetry, Kung Fu stretched too much and involved undernourished characters. That seems to be on display here in what is otherwise a splendid episode.

The show’s engrossing, consistent cinematography, courtesy of the professional that developed its look and feel (Chuck Arnold), is on display in “The Brujo” as well. It opens with a series of spooky shots of the title character, a raven haired Mexican sorcerer, working his black magic. The story involves the town of San Martin, its body controlled by the landowner, Don Emilio (Henry Darrow), but its soul fought over by two mystical forces. On one end is the Brujo, driven by revenge to exact tribute and terror from the villagers. On the other is a mysterious, silent white haired wizard and a mute, white haired boy (Jimmy Turner), aided by San Martin’s priest, Father Salazar (Julio Medina).

Into this struggle for the strength of the villagers steps Caine, who refuses to bend to the demands of the Brujo. The resolution of their conflict is classic; when someone tries to draw a circle of power around you, what really is it that binds you? When someone curses you, where does that curse draw its strength? Caine’s solution to the Brujo’s challenge is as simple as it is powerful. As Master Po explains in the flashback, the villagers, like Caine, must have a discerning mind, a mind that rejects. “The undiscerning mind is like the root of a tree. It absorbs equally all that it touches, even the poison that would kill it.”

I have a personal connection to this episode as well. As a child I saw a therapist for a time when I was having some trouble in school after my parents’ divorce. The therapist used anecdotes from this episode to illustrate to me the responsibility I could take for my own happiness. Three out of four yin yangs due to the weirdness I mentioned in the opening paragraph, and a salute to you, Dr. Self, for helping me 30 years ago with this show as an instrument. Anyone know who played The Brujo? IMDB seems to have missed it. UPDATE: See the comment below from Ex Lion Tamer on this remarkable Mexican actor!



Anonymous exliontamer said...

The Brujo was played by none other than Emilio Fernandez, a noted Mexican actor, screenwriter, and film director who was beloved in his home country for making movies that focused on poor indigenous people, for which he earned the nickname "El Indio" ("The Indian"). Fernandez was active in the Mexican film industry from the 1920s to the 1980s, and also appeared in such north-of-the-border fare as John Huston's "The Night of the Iguana" and Sam Peckinpah's "The Wild Bunch." It was quite a casting coop for "Kung Fu" to get him.

7:54 PM  
Blogger Charlie Kondek said...

Ex Lion Tamer for the win! Thank you.

9:13 AM  
Anonymous exliontamer said...

Except I wrote "coop" when I meant "coup." Up late much, exliontamer?

7:32 PM  
Blogger Haik Kavookjian said...


This Haik with Magnolia Pictures. We are going to be running some promotional contests on Facebook for Tony Jaa's new movie Ong Bak 3 and plan to give away an OB3 Poster signed by TONY JAA and a Thai Action DVD pack. I imagine some of your viewers are big Tony Jaa fans and we were wondering if you would be willing to re-post our contest on your Facebook page. Please feel free to contact me at any time.

- Haik Kavookjian

5:23 PM  
Blogger Charlie Kondek said...

I'd love to, Haik! I'll click on your profile and see if I can get your email. Will you email me? I'm charlie dot kondek at mslgroup dot com. My day job is in web based PR and marketing so I can absolutely understand what you're doing here.

10:04 AM  
Blogger said...

you can't do any thing dude you can't hack my id......

4:38 AM  

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