“Grasshopper” has a new Kung Fu master. There’s been a change of direction for the Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures’ big screen adaptation of the classic TV series.
Kung Fu ran for three years on ABC, from 1972 until 1975. It’s a unique Western series that tells the story of Kwai Chang Caine (David Carradine), the orphaned son of an American man and Chinese woman. Nicknamed “Grasshopper” by his mentor, Caine is trained in a Shaolin monastery. After his mentor is murdered, Caine retaliates by killing the emperor’s nephew. He flees China to America’s Old West where he helps those in need and stays one step ahead of the emperor’s assassins.
Carradine’s Caine has been resurrected a few times in movies, in a four-year sequel series Kung Fu: The Legend Continues, in a group of animated webisodes, and even an occasional commercial.
The big screen version of Kung Fu has been in the works for some time. In June 2006, Kung Fu’s creator Ed Spielman and writing partner Howard Friedlander announced that the film was in development. The film was planned to be a China-based prequel to the original series and would not feature a lot of special effects, unlike Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
In November 2006, it was reported that Allen and Albert Hughes had been hired to direct the picture and that Cory Goodman was rewriting the script. Legendary Pictures’ Thomas Tull, Scott Mednick and Jon Jashni were announced as producers with Spielman as executive producer.
Max Makowski has now stepped in to take over the project because the Hughes brothers are tied up with Warner Bros. The Book of Eli. As a result, the Kung Fu script is being revised once again. The Hong Kong-based Makowski reportedly wants to make the film edgier than the original series but still plans to shoot in China.
When the film was announced, it was emphasized that Carradine would not be reprising his role as Caine. The actor later said, “I know there’s talk at Warner Bros about doing a feature version of Kung Fu and they’re talking about going back and telling the original pilot movie story over again with a young actor. It would have to be a young actor because he’s studying up at the monastery. He starts out as child and a teenager. I’m 70 years old so I couldn’t play that part.” Hopefully, the Kill Bill actor will be tapped for another role or at least a cameo.
No word if the film is still on track for a 2008 release. Initially, Warner Bros. wanted to promote the film via the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics and for it to help foster the studio’s expansion into China. Stay tuned!
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