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Kung Fu: The Complete Series Collection

4.6 out of 5 stars 508 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Kung Fu: The Complete Series Collection (DVD)

David Carradine stars as a Buddhist monk and hunted man who wanders the American West in the 1870s fighting intolerance and injustice with his mastery of an ancient form of high combat known as Kung Fu.


Season One
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

Season Three
While it may not rank with Richard Kimble's fateful meeting with the One-Armed Man in the series finale of The Fugitive, Caine's reunion with his long-lost brother, Danny, brings Kung Fu, to quote the title of the four-episode story arc's conclusion, "Full Circle." The series' rich iconography and episodes featuring returning characters may make this final season heady going for newcomers. But those who have faithfully followed Caine (David Carradine in his iconic role) on his nomadic adventures will be richly rewarded with some of the series' best episodes. The season begins with a stellar two-parter, "Blood of the Dragon," in which Caine seeks the truth about his grandfather's murder, while Imperial assassins are dispatched to kill Caine. The venerable Patricia Neal guest-stars as the grandfather's iron-willed, cold-hearted former lover. Eddie Albert also stars as a doctor who sides with Caine. Other memorable guest stars this season include William Shatner broguing it up, Scotty-style, as a sea captain who arrives with an Imperial pardon for Caine (but at what cost?) in "A Small Beheading." Barbara Hershey portrays an aspiring Shoalin priest in the two-parter, "Besieged." In "The Brothers Caine," a pre-Airplane Leslie Nielsen is a ruthless magnate who puts a $10,000 price on Danny's head, making for an awkward reunion when Danny thinks that Caine is a bounty hunter. David's father, John, returns as blind preacher Serenity Johnson in "Ambush."

This season was distinguished by innovative episodes set in China during Caine's "Grasshopper" tutelage. In "The Demon God," the youth, poisoned by a prince, experiences mystical visions of his older, wandering self, who is stung by a scorpion. In "The Thief of Chendo," young Caine's Master imagines an adventure for the aspiring priest. Two Carradine commentaries, and a near-hour long chronicle of Carradine's 30-years-on visit to a Shoalin monastery in China (an incredible journey that ends with Carradine's soulful rendition of "America the Beautiful") help to give Kung Fu a worthy DVD send-off. --Donald Liebenson

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: David Carradine, Keye Luke, Radames Pera, Philip Ahn
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Box set
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Subtitles: French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 11
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: November 6, 2007
  • Run Time: 3168 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (508 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000X07TLA
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,242 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Kung Fu: The Complete Series Collection" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
There are lots of reviews which already talk (extensively) about why Kung Fu was such a great show, and worth owning on DVD. Instead I just wanted to make sure people know what they are getting with this set...

I hesitated to buy this set at first because it had all 3 seasons packaged together, but didn't mention anything about special features, etc. I wanted to make sure I had the commentaries & featurettes that the individual seasons boasted. Eventually, I bought this version because the price difference won me over (just before the holidays it was $35 + super saver shipping!) and I was pleased to find out that the set contained all 3 seasons as they appear individually, as well as a nice little slip cover to store them all together. The individual seasons & this package are the same, except that this one costs far less.
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I can not find words strong enough to support this great TV series. It is a must see. We gladly bought the three season package to share the experience with my two daughters, making a family summer of revisiting the series. The praise found in the reviews here speaks for the quality of the show. The quality of the DVD set, well that's a little frustrating. Here are the three big things you need to know about the collection, from big to huge:

BIG: Errors in old TV shows framing: Back then 480 resolution was all they had to deal with, now transfered to 1080p with modern black levels, shows this old often reveal things that were hidden from the audience when they first aired. Occasionally you see a powerline, or notice from cut-to-cut that the daylight was WAY lower earlier in the scene than later. All this can be corrected with relatively cheap CGI efforts, but no such effort was made on this collection.

BIGGER: No film restoration. In some cases the color correction is really bad, faded film, hairs in the transfer gate, spots and flickers that would have been treated and returned to original print quality in a more porperly restored version of the series are just left as is. You get the feeling they spun old prints through a transfer chamber and called it a day. Lazy work.

HUGE: Way back when Kung Fu was cancelled some lame brains at the network decided to air the last six shows out of order to capitalize on sweeps ratings, making the six story arc ending of the series occur with the last three preceding the first three. An easy fix, the DVD makers could have put the shows in the correct story order and list the air-dates on the insert material. They didn't, however, simpley following the air order instead of the intended story order. GOOD GRIEF.
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Kung Fu drastically challenged the conservative, militaristic, and philosophically naive outlook I held as a 20 year old college student and "gung-ho" ROTC cadet in 1972. Now, 36 years later, I have had the opportunity to watch Kung Fu once more, and the impact has been nearly as powerful. I have been disabled for severe depression and anxiety for over 15 years, including close to two years of hospitalization. In all of that time I have barely moved forward--until re-watching Kung Fu. The show has visually reminded me of many things, repeatedly told me by therapists, in such a way that I am once again able to reflect--especially while watching the show--a little more positively on my life.

That is the beauty and mastery of Kung Fu, one of the most intriguing shows ever made: it invokes one to THINK, discuss, and contemplate. The only other show I have seen have such an effect on so many people (nearly 90% of my ROTC class of 207 cadets watched Kung Fu as well as me), is the original two years of Star Trek. BUT, the level and intensity invoked by Kung Fu was immeasurably greater than that of Star Trek. The commentaries and features (see the Comments for listing of these items) often mention how teachers "required" students to watch Kung Fu, and then discussed the episodes in class. In deed, it is the philosophical nature of the show that most appeals to me and many who watch it.

Conversely, I will not deny that the show led me to sign up for Judo classes too (over 50% of my friends signed up for some form of martial arts), but the Karate nature of the show was never that appealing to me. Kung Fu is frequently accredited for "introducing" thousands of people to the martial arts.
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I purchased the Complete Series, seasons 1,2,3 set that was offered by Amazon for $33.99 (11/25/2008) as a 70% off package -- wait for it and it will be offered at this price again -- the series is well worth the 70% off price so wait for it.

Story: Chinese-American grows up in a temple in China, defends his temple master but becomes a wanted outlaw, escapes to America and wanders trying to find his brother. Nice philosophy is given as flashbacks in the temple during his journeys. Music is nice, has a nice melody and is somewhat melancholy, but very enjoyable.

DVD packaging, disks and cases: attractive package, double-sided disks, fold-out, hard-case plastic with those dreaded CENTER PUSH mechanisms that don't let the disks out easy-- you know, the ones that break when pushed, and don't release the disk, and the ones that ALL CONSUMERS dislike and many manufacturers keep making! Warner-Brothers, are you listening?

DVD transfers: taken from film without any special remastering
Season 1 is widescreen that has cropped images that everyone complains about, seasons 2 and 3 are full screen format. All season images are not so bad though but there are noticeable spots white / black that occur occasionally due to the transfer from film. DVDs have English subtitles that is VERY ESSENTIAL for hard of hearing, noisy environments, and children and persons learning English.

DVD Arrangement: good with highlighted episodes in the case and summaries. DVD menus are also good. Season 1 has the Warner-Brothers logo AND music that cuts off the last bit of the Kung-Fu music ending. WB, DON'T DO THAT!! Season 3 lets almost the last bit of music play and fortunately uses a SILENT WB logo as the almost all of the last music is played.
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