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Friday, July 4, 2014

'Kung Fu: The Legend Continues' S1 DVD: Number One Super Guy Father-Son Team Faster Than the Human Eye

Kung Fu: The Legend Continues: The Complete First Season
The recent Warner Archive six-disc DVD release of the first season of the '90s syndicated action-adventure series "Kung Fu: The Legend Continues" is perfectly timed to provide light summertime entertainment. Another apt element of this show that focuses on ancient and modern Chinese culture is that you will be hungry for another episode an hour after watching it.

One of many other things that make "Legends" special is sharing the look and vibe of fellow syndicated series "Time Trax" from the same era. The Unreal TV post on the second season of this series provides insights regarding that one.

"Legend" picks up nicely on the themes and lore of the classic 1970s series "Kung Fu," which also stars David Carradine in the lead role. History additionally repeats itself in the form of warrior Shaolin priest Kwai Chang Caine, who is the namesake of the hero whom Caradine plays in the original, reuiniting and teaming up with his long-lost son to use the lessons and skills from their Shaolin training to defeat evildoers. One change is that the action shifts from the old west to a 1990s Chinatown in a U.S. city.

The audience gets to partake in the lessons in the form of flashbacks of the training of a young Peter at a Shaolin temple.

The opening credits of the series expertly provide the necessary background to understand and enjoy this highly entertaining show. The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, of that opening shows that and also demonstrates the awesome "Trax" vibe of the series.

The buddy-film worthy premise this time is that Kwai Chang is a largely stoic individual who follows the code of many television heroes, including Bret Maverick and the quasi Zen-like Angus MacGyver, who avoid violence and related gun play. Conversely, Peter Caine is a more hot-headed cop who at  least feels that he is not fully dressed if he does not have his gun. "Trek" fans can think of this premise as Spock and Kirk opening a detective agency.

The uber-awesome episode "Challenge" addresses the gun issue by pitting the Caines against their arch-foe in a battle in which Kwai Chang literally demands that Peter check his gun at the door. A subsequent scene in which Peter instinctively reaches for his gun in his empty holster is one of the most amusing in the season.

The pilot starts out with Caines elder and junior engaging in parallel quests to shut down a protection racket that is targeting mom-and-pop Chinatown businesses. The pair meeting after a 15-year absence kicks (pun intended) the pilot and series into high gear.

As Archive mentions, the version of the pilot in the DVD set has brief nudity because it is the international one. These scenes clearly show that the undercover Peter is not the only implant in the dive where this action occurs. Along similar lines, a scene from another episode in which a witness whom the junior Caine is protecting exclaims that she likes Peter provides good unintentional humor.

The first regular episode is a "ripped from the headlines" outing revolving around a plot to kill a man for writing a non-fiction book about the ninja-like shadow assassins. A reference to "The Satanic Verses" removes any doubt regarding the inspiration for the story.

Another memorable episode has elements of "Die Hard" in that it involves a group of thieves who are pulling off a heist at a hotel holding the participants in a wedding that Kwai Chang and Peter are attending hostage. The applicable Shaolin lesson lesson in this one relates to Peter overcoming fear. The laugh-out-loud moment in this one relates to Kwai Chang learning that the cocktail in which he expresses interest is a grasshopper.

The "very-special" two-part season finale that has Peter protecting a sequestered teen poised to (purely ceremoniously) ascend to the position of Emporer of China nicely ties with Chinese politics, an effort to remedy disgrace that the Caine family has endured for generations (think the dishonor of Worf regarding his fellow Klingons in "Star Trek: The Next Generation"), and yet another re-emergence of an old foe. The cliffhanger adds additional drama that creates great expectations of the Archive DVD release of the second season of "Legend."

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Legend" is encouraged to email me. You can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.