May 31, 2006

Movie based on “Kung Fu” TV series in the works

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The producers behind the upcoming
movie "Superman Returns" said on Wednesday they are laying the
groundwork for a very different kind of big-screen hero with a
feature film based on the 1970s television series "Kung Fu."

Legendary Pictures has optioned rights for the project from
the original creators of the East-meets-West drama that starred
David Carradine as Kwai Chang Caine, the Buddhist martial-arts
master who flees China to wander the American frontier.

Legendary's distribution president, Scott Mednick, said the
feature adaptation would take place mostly in China and focus
on Caine's training as a Shaolin monk and the circumstances
that lead him to the Old American West.

Series creator Ed Spielman and his writing partner on the
show, Howard Friedlander, are finishing a movie screenplay that
Legendary will then present to Warner Bros. Pictures in hopes
of clinching a deal to make the film, Mednick said.

Legendary already has a five-year "first-look" development
deal with Warner Bros., the Time Warner Inc. studio that will
release the production company's latest offering, "Superman
Returns" in July.

The studio's TV division produced the original "Kung Fu" TV
series, which ran on ABC from 1972 to 1975.

In the show, Caine flees China after committing murder and
ends up pursued across the 19th century American West by
Chinese imperial agents and bounty hunters as he helps
strangers and searches for a long-lost half brother.

The series included frequent flashbacks to Caine's boyhood
as a Shaolin student, dubbed "grasshopper," and the lessons
imparted to him by Master Po and Master Kan.

No decisions about a director or casting have been made,
Mednick said, but he ruled out a return of Carradine, now 69,
who starred on TV as the half-Chinese, half-American hero.

While kung fu action will figure prominently in the
picture, as it did on TV, Mednick said the film would strive
for a greater sense of realism than has been depicted in other
martial-arts films.

"We're not looking at this as 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden
Dragon,' with people flying all around," Mednick said. "The
actual priests of the Shaolin Temple can do things that are
amazing without wire work or special effects."