Shaolin monk Kwai Chang Caine looks to (as Jules in Pulp Fiction put it) “walk the earth” yet again in a new film adaptation of Kung Fu, the popular 1970s television series that starred David Carradine as Caine.
Actor/director Bill Paxton has begun negotiations to sign on as helmer of the new Kung Fu movie, which would mark his third feature-length directorial effort following the well-received horror/drama Frailty and historical sports tale The Greatest Game Ever Played.
Deadline says that John J. McLaughlin (Black Swan) is scripting the Kung Fu film adaptation, which is slated to start production in Summer 2012 – and be partially shot on location in China. If Paxton does sign on to helm the project, then the next step would (presumably) be to hire on a worthy leading man to portray the wandering warrior Caine.
Kung Fu – which, according to Bruce Lee’s widow, Linda Lee Cadwell, was actually conceived by the martial arts screen legend – is a 19th century-set series that follows the adult version of Caine (Carradine) as he travels across the U.S., often helping (or fighting) others while on a quest to find his half-brother.
The series ran from 1972-75 and inspired a TV movie adaptation in 1986, simply titled Kung Fu: The Movie, which saw Carradine reprise his iconic role as Caine. A year later, Brandon Lee portrayed a contemporary descendant of Caine in the hour-long TV special Kung Fu: The Next Generation. Eventually, a second TV series titled Kung Fu: The Legend Continues (which also starred Carradine) was created and ran from 1993-97.
Credited Kung Fu creator Ed Spielman and collaborator Howard Friedlander raised the possibility in 2006 of making a new cinematic adaptation that would serve as a China-set prequel to the original show – one that was described as going the now customary “darker and grittier than its predecessor” route.
Paxton (the director) has already proven himself adapt at handling both complex character development and engaging period drama, so a Kung Fu movie crafted under his watchful eye reads as something with potential. Plus, he seems like the sort who would deliver a film adaptation with more thematic substance and realistic martial arts combat sequences.
Younger generations who did not grow up watching Carradine portray the stoic Caine – and are mostly familiar with Carradine’s portrayal of Bill in Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill – should have little problem with another actor occupying that role. Longtime Kung Fu fans will (naturally) be more skeptical about the idea, but will probably come around if a worthy leading man is found for the part.
We will keep you posted on the status of the Kung Fu movie adaptation as the story develops.