Forgive me in advance for the rambling nature of this blog, I really don’t have a plan, I just have two words ‘Kung fu’.
For those not familiar with it, Kung Fu is a tv show with David Carradine playing a half Chinese half American boy raised in a shaolin temple after both his parents are killed by a tyrannical Emperor.
The story is based around his travels to seek out his family in America after his master is killed he must flee china wanted for killing the emperors son in an act of hot on the spot vengeance for the unwarranted killing.
He travels America looking for his family, evading the snare of the emperor and getting into scrapes and adventures, meeting interesting people along the way. With each new adventure a piece of his teachings is called upon to assist him and make sense of a world he’s only just coming face to face with.
Secluded all his life Caine is as a child with the fighting skills of a shaolin priest, through a series of flashback his past is brought to light to help him overcome and decide on certain courses of action to aid him in his adventures.
I initially watched the show out of the blue, maybe as some form of research for 3 Ring, I know I definitely shamelessly ripped a lot off for the issue plan, I borrowed a lot of ideas and I in an upcoming arc and I decided to completely parody the montage of Caine’s training in the shaolin temple and make it Pookie’s ridiculous clown training, I just couldn’t resist.
I really, really loved the style; the way the story was structured in the first season was perfect, calling on back-story applying it to current plot. It worked really well because you learned more about him every episode in a way that felt very consistent. And every episode you learnt a valuable and somewhat touching lesson.
It padded the main plot nicely as we learned about Caine throughout his various adventures and then kept us interested in the search for his brother and the threat of the Emperor on his heels and for a guy that had never done kung fu before kung fu David Carradine isn’t half bad as an actor or a fighter coming from someone who knows kung fu. He wasn’t amazing and he did use a stunt double in season one I believe but ditched that for his own stunts in later seasons.
Long story short I loved the show and I wanted the same feel for 3 Ring Samurai, I wanted every arc to be a self contained movie, something that engaged people and had action and drama and suspense and just enough thread of main plot to keep people reading but not enough to overwhelm them.
Sadly the second two seasons of Kung fu really fell short for me and I must admit I almost breathed a sigh of relief, I’m not proud to admit I take pleasure in the downfall of other but I think a lot of people feel shadenfreud a lot more than they’d like to admit. I was relieved to see the show fall because to live up to that, for it to continue at that level of quality would have rendered my endeavours to emulate it seem futile.
I don’t blame the show for this, I blame the times and the idea that writing staff are disposable, they chose to change the writers for season two and with the nature of television in the seventies I feel like they had to make it more consumable for people to watch as re-runs.
Tv wasn’t like how it is now with netflix and the internet, you couldn’t choose to watch a tv show whenever you wanted, and watch them in order, you watched them when they were on, in the order they were on and if you missed an episode you had to watch it in a rerun. You couldn’t just buy the boxset on dvd.
So each episode had to be standalone and almost interchangeable in terms of the timeline of the story so someone could watch any episode in any order and still keep up and enjoy the show.
This change of writers and restructuring of the show is a noticeable decline in cogent plot and although I watched each season through it didn’t measure up in any shape or form to season one.
I don’t know why but my mind keeps drawing back to Twin Peaks and the dire mistake of revealing the mystery around the death of Laura Palmer half way between season two which without a doubt killed the show. Lynch himself said he never wanted to reveal the mystery and I and Edgar Allen Poe would have agreed that the greatest mystery is one that goes unsolved. It was the fault of the producers of the show that forced him to reveal the mystery and then have the show limp on to the end without much a hook to keep the show going.
It’s almost amazing to even think that an entire tv show could be framed around one murder or one person’s life like Kung Fu. But it can because people themselves can be unsolvable mysteries.
And every time the credits rolled over Laura Palmer’s picture I would feel a pang of sorrow for the mystery of her life and even more so for the tawdry reveal of that perfect mystery and then the shop bought replacement mystery awkwardly wedged in its place.
I think if Kung Fu were re-made today it would be an incredibly feat but also a really rewarding one, (Note to self, call Keanu Reeves ;)). This is the golden age of television where the possibilities for stories and budgets and scope and acting talent are virtually limitless and at a time where there is so much pressure on the structure of films and now games it’s really necessary.
So please forgive the faux fanboy ranting, I just wanted to give some perspective to the narrative structure and style of 3 Ring, think Kung Fu meets Fallout 4 haha.
Peace out people.