David Carradine, known for his role as Kwai Chang Caine – or Grasshopper (his name given to him by the blind-but-very-able-to-kick-your-butt Master Po), died yesterday. There are numerous questions about his death, first reported as a suicide, but as cnn.com now reports, there may be foul play involved.
Of course, he gets a mention here. After all, he inspired a generation of clumsy guys like to me with his very inauthentic and over rehearsed martial arts moves in the 1970s series Kung Fu – one of my favorite all time television series. What surprises me is that Kung Fu only lasted three seasons. I thought it was more like 10. Here's some info about the series from Wikipedia:
Kung Fu (1972-1975) is an American television series which starred David Carradine. It was created by Ed Spielman, directed and produced by Jerry Thorpe, and developed by Herman Miller(who was also a writer for, and co-producer of, the series). David Chow (actor) (and later Kam Yuen) was the technical and kung fu advisor. A full length feature TV movie preceded the series.
Kung Fu follows the adventures of a Shaolin monk, Kwai Chang Caine[虔官昌 Qián Guānchāng] (portrayed by David Carradine as an adult, Keith Carradine as a teenager and Radames Pera as a young boy) who travels through the American Old West armed only with his skill in martial arts, as he seeks his half-brother, Danny Caine.
You younger folks might be more familiar with Carradine for his roles in the Kill Bill movie trilogy. He played numerous other roles in his decades long career. None of them even a tiny percentage as cool as the Grasshopper. Not even close.
Here's a little about Carradine:
David Carradine (December 8, 1936 – June 3, 2009), born John Arthur Carradine, was an American actorbest known for his work in the 1970s television series Kung Fu and more recently in the movie Kill Bill. He appeared in more than 100 feature films and was nominated four times for a Golden Globe Award.
Anyone familiar with the Kung Fu series knows about the "walking on rice paper and grabbing the gran of rice thing." I loved that part of the story. Basically, the Grasshopper was ready to leave the Shaolin Temple once he could walk down a path of rice paper without leaving a trace and grab a grain of rice from Master Po's hand. That wouldn't seem like to much of a task to complete, considering Master Po was an old blind man. But Master Po, as a I mentioned, was one bad mo fo. It took the Grasshopper years until he finally able to complete those two tasks. Then he had to pick up a big vat of boiling water with his forearms, thus branding him with the dragon of the Shaolin monks. I used to practice the scene where the Grasshopper falls into the snow to cool the pain of his burning forearms. I would fall into the snow in my backyard, looking up to the winter sky with a face of agony, yelling "it burns, it burns". My mother would tell me to come in out of the cold.
That's how much an influence the Grasshopper had on me. He was my hero.