David Carradine at the 2004 South Florida Sci-Fi Anime Comic Convention on June 5th, 2004. (Danny Templegod Photo)
INTERVIEW: David Carradine on 'Kung Fu' & beyond
In the past year, cult film and television star David Carradine has seen his career revived after starring in Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill. However, many television viewers still remember Carradine most fondly as Kwai Chang Caine, humble student of Shaolin who wandered the Old West for four seasons in Kung Fu (1972-75).
Warner Brothers briefly revived the series in 1992-93 as Kung Fu: The Legend Continues. In addition to starring in both series, Carradine has appeared in a number of cult film classics including Death Race 2000 (1975), Circle of Iron (1978), and Lone Wolf McQuade (1983) opposite Chuck Norris.
After meeting Carradine in person at the 2004 South Florida Sci-Fi Anime Comic Convention, Danny Templegod hooked up with him for this interview where he talks briefly about Kung Fu and several post-Kill Bill projects.
KFC: What was the deciding factor in reviving the Kung Fu series in the 90s?
David Carradine: The success of the '86 movie with Brandon Lee demanded some kind of continuation. Plus, I had always contemplated a modern version.
KFC: In your opinion, have technological advances taken away from the nuances of character development in today’s TV shows?
DC: No, I don't think so, although I watch very little television.
KFC: Are there any plans to continue the Kung Fu series, possibly with a new cast?
DC: There is always talk. There are three scripts kicking around [Warner Brothers]: a continuation of the original series, a sequel to Kung Fu; The Legend Continues, and one that happens in the future. Also, there is talk of a feature [film]. Two ways that could go: continuing the wanderings of Caine with the original cast, or retelling the story of the original pilot movie with a new Caine.
KFC: Now that the first season of the original series is on DVD are there plans for The Legend Continues to be released on DVD?
DC: Not that I know of.
KFC: How were you approached with the Kill Bill project?
DC: Got a call from Quentin. Simple as that.
KFC: Did you see some of yourself in the character of Bill?
DC: Definitely. Since Quentin wrote it for me, that was bound to be so.
KFC: How about the presentation of the project, do you think that the movie should have been split up for a theatrical release?
DC: It was either that or cut out a lot of good stuff. Besides, this way we get your eight bucks twice [laughs].
KFC: Is it more enjoyable for you to play the villain, rather than the hero?
KFC: Do you enjoy the balance of strong female characters in action films like Kill Bill?
DC: Yes, I dig it.
KFC: Let's talk about your most recent films. A synopsis on IMDB.com makes Last Goodbye sound like a vampire film. What's your role in it?
DC: No, its got nothing to do with vampires. It follows the lives of a bunch of young people as their lives intertwine. I play an imaginary friend.
KFC: You did voice work for Hair High, the latest project from cult animator George Plymptom. Was that a fun experience?
DC: Yes, I always enjoy working on cartoons. This was another project with family. My niece, Martha Plympton talked us into it.
KFC: Have you ever been approached to work on an animated martial arts film?
DC: Yes, there's been some talk of that. I was involved in a web cartoon of Kung Fu with WB a few years back.
KFC: Can you talk about working with your other niece, Ever Carradine, on a film called Dead and Breakfast?
DC: Well, I worked just one or two days on that picture. I did it because I'd never worked with Ever before. I also [did] Long Goodbye in order to work with my daughter, Kansas. That was not my first time [working] with her. She did two episodes of Kung Fu: The Legend Continues and we worked together on a movie called Open Fire.
I have several projects in mind for the future, but it's too early to talk about them. I can tease you a little, though, concerning a Western that would involve the entire family. That would be Kansas, Keith, Robert, Mike, Bruce, Ever, Martha, Calista, maybe Mariah, Sienna, and Free.
KFC: Thank you for taking time to conduct the interview.
DC: Glad to be of service.
A new generation of viewers can now join longtime fans in reliving the complete first season of Kung Fu on DVD as a box set from Warner Home Video. Danny Shamon is a regular Kung Fu Cinema contributor and freelance writer.