Kung Fu Only Feels Like a CW Arrowverse Series

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Kung Fu Season 1 BD

Billed as a reboot to the 1970s western series starring David Carradine, CW's Kung Fu bears little resemblance beyond the name. The tale is set in current year, and gets rolling when young Nicky Shen (Olivia Liang) discovers the real reason her mother sent her from San Francisco to China was to introduce her to someone who was husband material. Ducking out and hiding in the back of a truck, Nicky finds herself hiding out at a Shaolin monastery overseen by Pei-Ling Zhang (Kheng Hua Tan). Something about the training Nicky sees speaks to her, and she stays with the monastery for three years, only returning to San Fransciso after the temple is attacked and destroyed by Zhilan (Yvonne Chapman) who comes seeking a sword hidden there -- one of eight weapons of power that, when united, will make the bearer unstoppable.

This is the great overarching story arc of season one -- the hunt for, and protection of -- the eight weapons, as Nicky and her friends race against Zhilan to find the weapons. It turns out hte weapons really do possess magic. What's more, Nicky learns that her bloodline makes her a direct descendant of one of the weapon's original guardians, bringing in elements of fate and mysticism.

In addition to the larger arc, each episode is a mini-adventure all unto itself, as Nicky gets help from her ex-boyfriend, attorney Evan Hartley (Gavin Stenhouse) and meets a new love interest in a young Tai Chi instructor and Chinese historian Henry Yan (Eddie Liu). There's a healthy amount of family drama as well, with Nicky's sister Althea (Shannon Dang) preparing for her wedding to a rich husband and brother Ryan (Jon Prasida) still learning the ropes of the gay dating scene. Nicky's parents, Jin (Tzi Ma) and Mei-Li (Kheng Hua Tan) are polar opposites in personality, with Jin being the supportive and loving father while Mei-Li isn't afraid to let her children know if they are doing something of which she disapproves.

Nicky's research will be interrupted by wrongfully convicted teenagers and Black Lives Matter protests -- the latter of which I thought wsa going to take a rather brave tack when the Shen's restaurant gets spray painted with graffiti before a march. But rather than show the viewpoint of those who have actually lost their livelihoods to such protests, the showrunners made this one a truly peaceful protest and used it to cast the police in the light of overzealous agitators. In other words, the expected narrative.

The series ends on a note that intimates we may be seeing more in the way of mystical fighting, with Nicky accepting her destiny and harnessing the mystic powers that let her do some of the air-walking in fight scenes. Overall, Kung Fu is a sort of lighter take on the first season of Arrow -- a protagonist gone for years only to return with fighting skills put to use for justice. In fact, now that the magic is decidedly a real thing in this series, Kung Fu would feel right at home along side any of the CW Arrowverse titles.


01. Pilot
02. Silence
03. Patience
04. Hand
05. Sanctuary
06. Rage
07. Guidance
08. Destiny
09. Isolation
10. Choice
11. Attachment
12. Sacrifice
13. Transformation

3.5 / 5.0