Television's great existential Western series Kung Fu starred David Carradine as Kwai Chang Caine, a half-Chinese, half-Caucasian who had once studied to become a Shaolin priest in 1860s China. Essentially a man of peace and introspection, Caine had been forced to kill a member of the Chinese royal family and had subsequently fled to the American West in search of his long-lost brother...and, it could be inferred, in search of himself (of course, he also had to keep one step ahead from pursuing Chinese authorities and paid assassins). Wherever he went, the solemn, shaven-headed Caine encountered hostility and intolerance from surly white men, yet he generally kept his temper and his impressive martial-arts skill in check, usually by remembering his training at the Shaolin temple where he had been raised since he was orphaned in infancy. Instructed by his mentors, Master Po (Keye Luke) -- who affectionately referred to his charge as "grasshopper" -- and Master Kan (Philip Ahn), the young Caine (played in the flashback scenes by Ramades Pera) had learned to use his strength wisely and with discipline and to rely upon his "inner harmony" in adverse situations. Unfortunately, the series' villains generally picked on those weaker and less powerful than themselves, and it fell to Caine to protect the downtrodden with astonishing displays of strength and agility, with the inevitable fight scenes usually filmed in slow motion. Other than Caine and his two masters there were no other regulars on the series. Despite its philosophy and mysticism, Kung Fu was, in many ways, a traditional Western, with the Mysterious Stranger arriving out of nowhere to vanquish evil and benefit those who were good, then disappearing just as quickly and quietly as he arrived. Caine was a "loner," thus his character was always alone, even in a crowd. During the third season, however, Season Hubley made sporadic appearances as Caine's American cousin, Margit. Created by Ed Spielman and developed by Herman Miller, the weekly 60-minute Kung Fu ran for three seasons on ABC, from 1972 to 1975. The concept was revived 1986 as the CBS made-for-TV feature Kung Fu: The Movie, and in 1993 as the syndicated weekly Kung Fu: The Legend Continues, which was set in modern times rather than the 19th century. David Carradine appeared in both of these revivals as Caine in the first and as the grandson of the "original" Caine in the second.
bounty-hunter, half-brother, Kung-Fu, martial-arts, priest, Shaolin