Kwai Chang Caine is back for another season of mayhem and mistaken-accusations on the second season of Kung Fu. How is it that trouble never ceases to track this guy down? It seems that every episode begins with Caine walking along, minding his own business, and the next thing you know, he is accused of murder. It would be ridiculous, if it wasn’t so fun to watch!
The themes of these episodes have evolved from the basics covered in season one. In the first season, racism was a dominant theme of the s…ow. In season two, religion seems to have taken the top spot, as we get to see the Shaolin Priest spend time interacting with various other religions. These themes add a new philosophical depth to the show not previously encountered. In addition to the expansion of the mental boundaries, the physical realm becomes more active as well, as Cane seems to be less reluctant to hold back the power of his physical skills from well-deserving foes.
In short, no matter what you liked about the first season of this show, there is more of it here in the second. More drama, more action, more Eastern spirituality… more Caine.
There are not a lot of audio choices on this set. In fact, there is just one… the original English mono. I am moderately surprised that this set has not been re-mastered in 5.1, but it’s not like we are getting cheated by being provided with the original format, either.
The audio that is provided included clear dialog, but nothing too crazy in the way of bass tones or surrounds (obviously). The point of this series is the dialog, however, and it is clear, albeit quiet. Caine is a man of few words, but when he speaks, he speaks truth. Just tune in, turn it up, and zone out!
The first season of this show featured a Widescreen presentation that I understand was created from the original film. This Season, the show has kept it old school by presenting the action in the original full-screen format. I am torn on this decision. For history’s sake, it is nice to have it in its original format. On the other hand, it sure looked cool in widescreen. Clearly, the best thing to do is to buy both seasons!
The picture quality itself is excellent; much better that one would expect from a show shot in the early 70’s. The opening credit sequences are pretty grainy and faded, but the episodes themselves are mostly clean, with dust and scratches kept to a minimum. The predominant brown tones appear deep but not dark, and when a bright color shows up, it really shines.
Especially notable is the interesting use of innovative camera angles. It is clear that those that worked on this show had a good time doing so, as the subject matter allowed them to expand the boundaries of television presentation. Low angles, overhead shots and interesting color effects make this a groundbreaking show technically as well as thematically.
There are just a few extras on this set, but they are of high quality. Commentary tracks are present on two episodes by the man himself, David Carradine. These tracks are much like the character that made him famous; the words are few, but valuable. Any more than two commentaries would have been overkill.
The other extra should appeal to those Kill Bill fans out there (of which I am one). Zen and Now: A Dinner with David Carradine and Friends is a Dinner for Five-style segment that features Carradine, Vivica A. Fox, Michael Madsen and various cast and crew from the Kung Fu series. This is an excellent extra that would be suitable for a network broadcast. The piece is split into three sections; appetizers, main course and dessert, allowing for a total running time of a little over 40 minutes. The topics include the show itself, acting styles, the influence of the show on future martial artists, and the rebirth of the series due to the popularity of Kill Bill. This is a top-shelf extra that really fills out the set.
The second season of Kung Fu is the same as the first… only better. More action, more fully developed storylines, and even more fun guest stars (including Harrison Ford and Don Johnson). If you are a fan of the first season, you would be doing yourself a favor to pick up season two as well. One of the best, and most overlooked shows of all time is back on DVD.
Special Features List
- Zen and Now: A Dinner with David Carradine & Friends featuring Carradine
- David Carradine commentary tracks on 2 episodes`