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Kung Fu: Season 1

256 customer reviews

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(Mar 16, 2004)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Kung Fu: The Complete First Season (DVD)

He is a man of peace in a violent land. David Carradine stars as Kwai Chang Caine, schooled in the spirit-mind-body ways of the Shaolin priesthood by the blind, avuncular Master Po and the stern yet loving Master Kan. Caine speaks softly, but hits hard. He lives humbly, yet knows great contentment. He is the Old West's most unusual hero. But hero is not a word Caine would use. He would simply say, "I am a man." He has no gun, no horse… and no equal. Many miles stretch before him. And many lives will be touched by him. Don't miss all the excitement of Caine's adventures in this Emmy®-winning mystical series that became a global phenomenon and brought martial arts to the masses, popularizing the genre that's alive and kicking in today's hit films and video games.


Everybody was kung-fu fighting after the 1972 premiere of this mystic western starring David Carradine (snatching the role from Bruce Lee) in his signature, Emmy-nominated role as Caine, a stoic Shaolin monk forced to flee China after killing the royal family member who slew his Master. Our wandering hero roams the west in search of his long-lost brother, while eluding American and Imperial bounty hunters, and imparting his ancient wisdom on those he encounters and is compelled to aid. Kung-Fu was never a ratings force, but its cult status was assured long before Samuel L. Jackson referenced it in Pulp Fiction. Along with the inaugural 15 episodes, this three-disc set contains the feature-length pilot that establishes the series' iconography: the inscrutable aphorisms ("When you cease to strive to understand, then you will know without understanding"); the flashbacks to Caine's youth, where the orphaned half-American and half-Chinese boy served as disciple ("Grasshopper") to the Old Man; and, of course, the anticipated moments when the peaceful Caine, like Billy Jack, is reluctantly compelled by some frontier bigot to use his fighting skills. Look for appearances by father John Carradine and brothers Keith and Robert in the episode, "Dark Angel." That's 11-year-old future Oscar-winner Jodie Foster in "Althea." Other notable episodes include the Emmy-winning "An Eye for an Eye" and "Chains," featuring an Emmy-nominated turn by Michael Greene as a not-so-gentle giant to whom an imprisoned Caine is chained. "With each ending," Caine observes in the episode, "The Third Man," comes a new beginning." Kung Fu's new beginning comes on DVD. Thanks to the timeless frontier setting and the uniqueness of its genre-bending concept, Kung Fu dates better than other '70s series. As these episodes demonstrate, the show still has plenty of kick. --Donald Liebenson

Special Features

Documentaries: Disc 1 - The Tao of Kwai Chang Caine: Production and Beyond; From Grasshopper to Caine: Creating Kung Fu

Product Details

  • Actors: David Carradine, Keye Luke, Philip Ahn, Radames Pera
  • Producers: Jerry Thorpe
  • Format: Anamorphic, Box set, Color, NTSC, Original recording remastered, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: March 16, 2004
  • Run Time: 780 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (256 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00013F38K
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #31,905 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Kung Fu: Season 1" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

357 of 376 people found the following review helpful By Keith Sargent on March 22, 2004
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Although I have not watched all 15 episodes yet, I was disappointed to discover that a total of one to two minutes in each episode were cut. While the short scenes that were cut were not crucial, they do create noticeable gaps in the smooth telling of the story.
It appears that the master tape used to make the DVD was not taken from the original series, but from a shortened version that was edited to make room for additional commercials when the show was shown in recent years. The total run time for each episode is 50 minutes.
It is also not "complete" because the top and bottom of the screen have been cut to make it fit a widescreen format.
I purchased the DVD because, although I had recorded the series on VHS, I did not have all the episodes. Therefore, I am happier with the DVD than without it; but I can only give it three stars since this is not the "complete first season." It has been cropped and shortened.
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125 of 134 people found the following review helpful By S. Phillips on March 22, 2004
Format: DVD
A TV series from 1972 is not intended for widescreen presentation. The original image has been cropped, cutting off heads, feet, and other things in the process.
I am all for widescreen presentations of widescreen movies, because I want to see the image as intended. However, in this case, they are doing the opposite, by changing the image to fit new 16X9 monitors, they have destroyed the original composition.
Do not sit still for this. Can you image I LOVE LUCY with the top and bottom of the picture cropped out? The converyor belt scene in the chocolate factory would be ruined....
Widescreen movies and recent widescreen TV shows should be widescreen on DVD, no question.
However, older non-widescreen movies and TV series should be presented as intended, not edited and cropped to placate owners of 16X9 sets who don't know any better. Besides, if those owners want to crop the images to fit their widescreens, they can do so with a button on their remotes.
Cropping a 32 year old TV series? Ridiculous.
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71 of 74 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 16, 2004
Format: DVD
I was 11, and I loved this series. I love it now, at 43. A gentle man tries to survive while doing as little damage as possible, and sometimes offering a bit of help. However skillfully written or choreographed the episodes were, the central message of kindness remained. I see many flaws today that I didn't at age 11, but who cares? Caine was one of my most beloved teachers. That will never change.
I subtract TWO STARS for the cropping. I swear it did not even occur to me to look at the box for the ratio! Who on earth would crop a TV show? Listen, I always check the ratio on films, and I was in the vanguard of widescreen proponents, in the 80's when no one gave a damn about it. But the whole point is to RETAIN INFORMATION, to avoid destruction of the artist's creation. Somebody decided Kung Fu did not deserve that much respect. They were wrong.
So I have mixed feelings. I'm sorry I bought the tattered version, but I have watched a few episodes and they made me as happy as they did in 1972. Clean look, clean sound. If you love this series, buy it and enjoy it. But I am still hoping for an untattered version. If they produce that, I will buy it instantly, and give the widescreen version to an 11 year old.
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49 of 57 people found the following review helpful By cyclista on February 22, 2004
Format: DVD
Caine, a Chinese-American immigrant, conflicts with a violent 1870's American West as he seeks a way of peace. The conflict that he feels within himself as a peaceful man who practices martial arts is portrayed excellently. The flashbacks that he has of conversations and lessons in a Shaolin temple are a glimpse into another world. An outstanding series.
A brief episode guide:
Pilot: Kung Fu: The Way of the Tiger, The Sign of the Dragon. Caine flees to the United States after killing the Emperor's nephew.
1. King of the Mountain: A bounty hunter looking for Caine endangers a woman rancher and a homeless boy. guest star (gs): John Saxon.
2. Dark Angel: Caine helps a blinded preacher learn to use his other senses. gs: Robert Carradine, John Carradine.
3. Blood Brother : Caine seeks justice for a murdered friend.
4. An Eye for An Eye: A rape victim wants Caine's help to get revenge. (This episode won Emmy's for best director and cinematographer.)
5. The Tide: A woman with an ulterior motive helps a seriously injured Caine.
6. The Soul Is the Warrior: Caine helps a sheriff facing death.
7. Nine Lives: A miner looks for a cat to replace the cat he accidentally killed. gs: Geraldine Brooks.
8. Sun and Cloud Shadow: Caine acts as intermediary between Chinese miners and a mine owner.
9. Chains: Caine escapes from prison shackled to another prisoner.
10. Alethea: A young girl testifies that she saw Caine murder a man. gs: Jodie Foster.
11. The Praying Mantis Kills: A young boy defends the jail against the men who killed his father.
12. Superstition: When Caine is forced to work in a mine, a landslide traps him inside.
Read more ›
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36 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Troy Edwards VINE VOICE on March 17, 2004
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I own the tape version of the pilot movie, so I did a frame by frame comparison (first frame when scenes change was how I marked frames)
Unquestionably, they choped the top and bottom (indiscriminately too), and NOTHING extra on the sides.
4 stars for the series: Despite the fact that the fighting looked like it was choreographed by 3rd graders. The wisdom, while clear, was subtle (unlike the 2nd series, where it was done to impress - look at me, I'm saying something you don't understand), the flashbacks were well intergrated, and the stories were just plain great.
2 stars for the DVD: OK, the color was much improved upon over the tape. Unfortuanately it goes downhill fast from there. Artifacts and scratches were not removed. And, after a frame by frame comparison (see above details), it was clearly choped. What's worse, is that there was no effort made to scan up or down when needed.
There are many times when they could have made the cut completely off the bottom, without affecting the scene at all. Yet instead, they decided to just cut off the same distance from top and bottom, and cut off a piece of someone's head!?
All that said, the series was good enough, and the price cheap enough, that I'll probably buy the next two seasons when they come out.
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