All good things must come to an end, and so it is with Kung Fu. It is always better for a show to go out at the top of its game than to overstay its welcome, fizzle, and fade away. Season One of this show was excellent in its storytelling, as the characters and themes were firmly established. Season Two was mostly about maintaining the themes that were set forth in the first year. Season Three, however, is where the whole thing comes together. Without giving too much away, it is safe to say that this season en…s with Caine completing his quest in the west, and finally locating his ever-elusive brother; a brother who’s intentions for his brother are a surprise to everyone.
I have said it about previous seasons, and I will say it again here; this is an excellent show that may have come along ahead of its time. Why this series is not more widely regarded as one of the better hour long dramas to ever air on network television, I will never understand. Carradine’s supurb acting, compelling storylines and an intriguing mix of western and eastern cultures make this a must-watch show.
Audio is consistent with many television programs of this era. Dialog is clear, while sound effects and music are kept to a minimum. At the time, shows were not packed with audio like they are today. Things were kept more simple, which is really effective in a show such as this one. The quiet nature of the program really helps to convey the feeling of loneliness and space that fill so many of these episodes. Maybe this is not a release with a loud, dynamic soundtrack, but the sparseness actually works in favor of the program.
Video quality is as good as can be expected, given the shows age. I would have loved to have seen this show in widescreen, but this was obviously not an option at the time. I still find myself daydreaming of what the show would have been like if it had been presented with the space that a widescreen display provides. Oh well… no use daydreaming about the impossible.
After the excessive grain of the opening credits, most of these episodes look pretty clean. There are no instances of scratches or dust on the negative, and while there is some grain, it is kept in check. I have seen several shows from the 70’s that have really rough transfers, so it is clear that this show has benefited either from detailed restoration or careful storage.
The Season Two release of this series included a wonderful extra that featured David Carradine and friends discussing the show over dinner. This is not the typical kind of low quality extra that viewers normally find on a TV on DVD release. Season Three takes it one step further, as it includes a documentary called David Carradine’s Shaolin Diary: Back to the Beginning. This documentary, created especially for this DVD release, was shot in China, and follows David Carradine as he returns to the Shaolin Temple Monastery. For true fans of this show, this is really something special. Carradine is still such an enigmatic personality,and it is simply thrilling to get to see him return to this sacred place, and to his own youth.
Also included are two commentaries by Carradine, as well as a Season Three introduction by the star. It is clear that Carradine still believes in this series, and it is fantastic to see him taking an active role in making these releases the great quality that they are.
Obviously, those of you that own the first two seasons of this show will be picking up this final season no mater what I say. Despite that fact, I am still comfortable in saying that this is a no-brainer must-own for Kung Fu and David Carradine fans. In addition to the exciting conclusion of this wonderful show, fans also get the excellent added bonus of getting to see Carradine return to China, and to the Monastery where the adventure began so many years ago.
Special Features List
- Commentary by David Carradine on two episodes
- Season Introduction by David Carradine
- David Carradine’s Shaolin Diary: Back to the Beginning: an all new documentary shot in China, follows David Carradine as he returns to the Shaolin Temple Monastery