One of the most original western series ever created was Kung Fu. This short lived series (it only lasted three seasons and a total of 62 episodes) continues to have an effect on the world of martial arts in North America and just about anywhere that the television show was seen. The successful melding of the Hollywood western motif with the Asian martial arts and Eastern philosophy/religion were what made Kung Fu so special and so enduring to fans all over the world.
Kung Fu - The Complete Second Season is a low on frills 4 DVD set that delivers what every fan wants the episodes as they originally aired. For purists there is the occasional jump or fade which is off putting but the overall quality of the series is not adversely affected by these minor issues. In contrast to the first season 3 DVD set the second season is marked by numerous high profile guest stars (including Harrison Ford) and its original screen aspect ratio.
The series stories are generally consistent and of course there is a certain amount of predictability as will all series. In Kung Fu the one thing fans waited for every week was the battle between Kwai Chang Caine and whomever the antagonist of the week were. Sometimes the antangonists are not necessarily bad guys (The Passion of Chen Yi is a case in point). There are some excellent stories in this collection but the stand out episodes are The Assassin, The Soldier, The Salamander, Empty Pages of a Dead Book, A Dream Within a Dream, The Passion of Chen Yi and The Cenopath.
The only people likely to buy this collection are of course Kung Fu fans so they don’t need convincing of the value of this series in terms of story telling and as an historical artifact in television history. The bonus section – a dinner with former stars of Kung Fu and some of the stars from Kill Bill is of moderate interest but probably best saved for a rainy day.
Recommended Reading:Herbie J. Pilato's The Kung Fu Book of Caine: The Complete Guide to Tv's First Mystical Eastern Western
1. The Well: A former slave and his family help Caine recover after he drinks poisoned well water.
2. The Assassin: Caine finds himself in the midst of a family feud and dealing with the mysterious appearance of a ninja.
3. The Chalice: A dying priest begs Caine to return a chalice he stole to the church.
4. El Brujo: A local wizard discover his powers are ineffective against Caine.
5. The Squawman: The accidental killing of an outlaw leads to trouble for a white man and his native american wife.
6. The Spirit-Helper: An Indian boy on spirit quest relies on Caine to help him rescue his mother from a band of outlaws.
7. The Tong: A tong leader passes a death sentence on Caine after he protects a small boy who is the tong leaders slave.
8. The Soldier: Unable to shoot someone even in self defense a young calvary officer tries to have Caine killed in order to prevent others from finding out.
9. The Salamander: A mentally ill boy searching for his father gets help from Caine.
10. The Hoots: Hutterites having found a valley to support their sheep and families are being forced off the land by a cattle farmer who is afraid that the sheep are carrying a disease which will kill his cattle.
11. The Elixir: A woman and patent medicine shill flee an obsessed man trying to capture the woman's heart.
12. The Gunman: A gunslinger being tracked by a bounty hunter takes refuge in the home of a woman he feels he owes a debt to.
13. Empty Pages of a Dead Book: Caine and a renegade Texas Ranger are accused of murder.
14. A Dream Within a Dream: Caine is shot on his way to a town after seeing a dead man hanging in a tree.
15. The Way of Violence Has No Mind: After being forced off their claim a group of Chinese immigrants form a gang to harry the man responsible.
16. In Uncertain Bondage (a.k.a. The Pit): A rich woman is kidnapped by her companion and the two men hired to escort her.
17. Night of the Owls, Day of the Doves: The murder of a rancher has unexpected consequences when he bequeaths his land to a brothel.
18. Crossties: Over zealous Pinkertons try to kill a group of angry farmers whose land was taken by the railroad.
19. The Passion of Chen Yi: A nemesis from his childhood is accused of murder and refuses to help himself.
20. Arrogant Dragon: A tong leader who wishes to retire back to China must rely on Caine to defend him and his daughter.
21. The Nature of Evil: Seeking to avenge the death of Sunny Jim a blind man finds that revenge is not sweet.
22 & 23. The Cenopath (Parts one and two): An amazingly eccentric Scot involves Caine in one of his more mysterious adventures.