Check out BINGE with a 14-day free trial
Stream movies and full series from HBO, Warner Bros., FX, BBC, NBC, CBS, Paramount and more.
We’re reader-supported and may be paid when you visit links to partner sites. We don’t compare all products in the market, but we’re working on it!
No TV series fits the term "cult classic" better than Kung Fu (1972-1975). Starring David Carradine, it combined oriental martial arts action with Old West gunslinging, through the spiritual lens of Taoist and Shaolin morality and philosophy. Heavily stylised and wonderfully unique, it's beloved by many.
It makes a reboot a challenging proposition, yet on 3 June 2021, a modern take on Kung Fu returns to Australian audiences through BINGE. At its soul it retains a common thread of a spiritual, martial arts expert doing their thing in an unlikely environment. This time it is the New West, so to speak: America's modern urban streets. Our hero is Nicky Chen (Olivia Liang) who, with the help of martial arts trainer and potential squeeze Henry Yan (Eddie Liu), protects the local community while trying to hunt down an assassin who offed Chen's teacher.
Without giving too much away, the fight choreography harkens back to the heavily stylised and unique feel of the original. And despite the serious nature of the plot, there's a sense of fun and a knowing nod to its over-the-top nature that you can see twinkling in the actors' eyes.
But perhaps more importantly, it's a TV series with a female lead and a predominantly Asian cast – including the legendary Tzi Ma and Aussie Jon Prasida – produced by a major network. It's a milestone moment in the growing calls for cultural diversity in prime time entertainment.
I caught up with Kung Fu's two stars, Olivia Liang and Eddie Liu, to learn more about the show. If you'd like to watch Kung Fu – and countless other amazing TV series – we've got a 14-day free trial to get you started.
If you want to know more about this excellent service, read our BINGE review.
Olivia: The original series was a bit before my time, so I hadn't heard of it until this job came along. And once I did my due diligence and my research, and saw some clips, I think what we've really honoured from the original is that sense of this person who has a particular skillset and is using it for good; fighting for the underdog and really sticking up for what's right in the community. I think people who love the heart in the original are going to find it in our re-imagining.
The original really did a great job of pushing the needle forward in the 70s for Asian American talent, and our version just pushes that needle even more forward with an Asian family at the forefront.
Olivia: Ooh! My martial arts background was driving my sister to Taekwondo classes and then watching her from the sidelines. But I have a background in dance and that translated well into martial arts choreography for film and TV. And I really just had to go through kind of a Kung Fu bootcamp leading up to shooting. Our world class stunts team whipped me into shape and really got me comfortable in the basics, so that I could at least look legit.
Yes! I fantasise sometimes about it. I'm walking down the street and I'm like, "I dare you. You don't know what I can do. Come at me."
Eddie: In between takes, when we're on set, she likes to throw a fist in my face and say "stay ready!" And I flinch, and I get scared, and my stress levels go up cause I feel like I was just about to get attacked.
Olivia: You're welcome.
Eddie: And that's her way of keeping us sharp. So, in a way, I lend my body to her perpetual training so we're always staying laser sharp and ready to perform.
Olivia: The choreography we went for with the fights varies from episode to episode. It's really fun. We've got kind of a very comedic fight in an upcoming episode that'll be airing soon on BINGE, and our fight coordinators and stunt coordinators are so creative. It's really amazing what they do to infuse traditional martial arts with either street fighting or a more comedic kind of fighting.
In our pilot, that first fight with Henry and Nikky when the beat drops and when I first saw it I was like, "okay, we at a club now and we're kicking ass."
Eddie: I love the style we're bringing to it because martial arts and Kung Fu has been done so much in the past. And when you embark on a show like this, it's a bit of a daunting task to live up to that legacy. But it's also really exciting to be able to bring your own flavour to it, to see what you can add to the whole genre of action TV.
Our fights differ from episode to episode, depending on what's going on in the story, and it really plays up the drama or the humour of what's going on. And I love that we get to blend slightly different styles of Kung Fu with different styles of other martial arts from fight to fight. You can see that happen. So, we've had a blast doing that.
Eddie: Yeah. And then some of them don't have any slow-mo and it's just fast and high paced. It's fun for us to do, so I hope it's fun for everyone to watch.
Olivia: Totally. I don't think it's a secret that my character Nikky Shen's teacher is killed within the first half of the pilot and her whole journey throughout season one is to avenge her. But she gets to see her in flashbacks in moments of meditation and I think the lessons that she learns from her teacher really honour the lessons of the original.
Olivia: Is it cool for me to say COVID might've had a positive impact on our show? I mean, the fact that we had to film in a COVID bubble meant our loved ones weren't able to visit. So we, as a cast, had to really lean on each other and we became so close as a result. I don't think, if we were flying back and forth from LA to Vancouver and taking weekends off, we would've gotten this close and become such a tight-knit family. That was really a silver lining of COVID for us.
Eddie: The unsexy part of COVID is that our industry took a major hit on production costs. And safety became of utmost importance. We're so glad that our COVID team was able to take care of us through all that. And then we lost some of the time we had to shoot each episode. Also looking back at what we were able to achieve with all these obstacles in our way, in addition to the difficulties that you already face without a pandemic, we're just so proud that we could pull this off and complete a whole season. And we're so grateful that everyone helped us make that happen.
Eddie: We would love that. Plus, while Kung Fu is focused on a Chinese background family and a Chinese American woman, when you see what the show is about I'm sure everyone can relate to it.
Olivia: Both! I hope people stay because it's a great drama experience, but also come to support broader representation in media. We knew that the show was the first of its kind on a major network in the US, but we hope that it's not the last. We hope that this is just the beginning and we're really excited to see a ripple effect happen.
Eddie: We hear the phrase "representation matters" all the time. We don't just mean that in front of the camera and it's not just lip service. We really believe in it. In front of the camera, behind the camera, in the writing aspects, producing and directing, in the executive, the major decision-making positions. That's what we're trying to achieve with a show like ours.
We want to let everyone know that it's not a gamble to focus on minority talent in any way. It's not a liability. It's not a box that you can just check and move on quickly. Diversity is the future. It's something to embrace and it makes for great storytelling, because it gives you something that you haven't seen before.
Olivia: We've got our own Aussie on the show – Jon Prasida, who plays my brother.
Eddie: While Kung Fu is about a Chinese American family, Jon being Australian Chinese, there is still that Western experience as an Asian that Aussies can relate to as well if you happen to be Asian from that region. There are a lot of universal themes of what it is to be Asian, but not truly in your own country. To feel a little bit like an "other": like a bit of a foreigner in a Western place. And there are a lot of cultural nuances and nods to our heritage that we're very proud of. It's not just like a documentary on how to be Asian, but it's a really fun action-adventure drama.
Olivia: Tzi Ma has been doing this for decades and he, I truly believe, is the one who knocked down these doors for us to walk through; my generation of actor. And to watch his career flourish throughout the years and all the opportunities that he has now at this stage of his career – and then to think ahead for us – we've already seen the landscape change right before our eyes.
The fact that we are here on this show on this network is really incredible, and it makes me really excited for how much more storytelling there is to come. As Eddie said, if it's happening at the top level behind the camera then it's going to translate onto camera. It's an exciting time.
Olivia: Eddie is going to have a really intellectual answer, but Rush Hour, duh. I mean, talk about infusing heart into fighting. Jackie Chan is incredible and I re-watched it just the other day and it's still so good.
There's a scene with Jackie holding up this giant vase and he's fending off these attackers and trying to protect this vase at the same time. It's incredible. And, of course, our father Tzi Ma is in it. Oh, and Kung Fu Panda. You can't tell me the fight choreography is not good in Kung Fu Panda.
Eddie: I know it's a cop out, but I cannot pick one single answer. My current favourite would be Kung Fu Hustle because it's old school. It has traditional style that hearkens back to old, 70s and 80s Kung Fu cinema. But it's just so over the top and ridiculous. I've heard it described as Enter the Dragon meets Looney Tunes. And I love Looney Tunes, so what's not to like? It's so funny, and then it's heartfelt sometimes. I highly recommended it.
Finder's Optus SubHub interview reveals when new apps will launch, how Telstra's streaming TV services could work, new features and more.
Each month we search through Netflix's library for its best original movies. Here's a list of 50 of the best.
Tony Ferguson takes on Justin Gaethje for the interim UFC Lightweight Championship as professional sport returns in the Octagon.
Major shopping centres, public spaces and dining options are still open across the Gold Coast during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are a few to get you started.
Take your pick of these eco-friendly hotels in Singapore that promote sustainability.
Meet our Finder authors who are helping millions of Australians one decision at a time.
Announced at the Game Awards 2019, the Xbox Series X will arrive before the Christmas holidays in 2020.
With so much choice available, kids will go nuts for the new Disney+.
From animated superhero shows to captivating docu-series, Disney+ has something for everyone.
Musicals are perfect for when you need a little pick-me-up.
All the biggest shows and movies from HBO and more on-demand.
Try Amazon Prime Video's huge library for 30 days free.
finder.com.au is one of Australia's leading comparison websites. We compare from a wide set of banks, insurers and product issuers. We value our editorial independence and follow editorial guidelines.
finder.com.au has access to track details from the product issuers listed on our sites. Although we provide information on the products offered by a wide range of issuers, we don't cover every available product or service.
Please note that the information published on our site should not be construed as personal advice and does not consider your personal needs and circumstances. While our site will provide you with factual information and general advice to help you make better decisions, it isn't a substitute for professional advice. You should consider whether the products or services featured on our site are appropriate for your needs. If you're unsure about anything, seek professional advice before you apply for any product or commit to any plan.
Products marked as 'Promoted' or 'Advertisement' are prominently displayed either as a result of a commercial advertising arrangement or to highlight a particular product, provider or feature. Finder may receive remuneration from the Provider if you click on the related link, purchase or enquire about the product. Finder's decision to show a 'promoted' product is neither a recommendation that the product is appropriate for you nor an indication that the product is the best in its category. We encourage you to use the tools and information we provide to compare your options.
Where our site links to particular products or displays 'Go to site' buttons, we may receive a commission, referral fee or payment when you click on those buttons or apply for a product. You can learn more about how we make money here.
When products are grouped in a table or list, the order in which they are initially sorted may be influenced by a range of factors including price, fees and discounts; commercial partnerships; product features; and brand popularity. We provide tools so you can sort and filter these lists to highlight features that matter to you.
We try to take an open and transparent approach and provide a broad-based comparison service. However, you should be aware that while we are an independently owned service, our comparison service does not include all providers or all products available in the market.
Some product issuers may provide products or offer services through multiple brands, associated companies or different labelling arrangements. This can make it difficult for consumers to compare alternatives or identify the companies behind the products. However, we aim to provide information to enable consumers to understand these issues.
Providing or obtaining an estimated insurance quote through us does not guarantee you can get the insurance. Acceptance by insurance companies is based on things like occupation, health and lifestyle. By providing you with the ability to apply for a credit card or loan, we are not guaranteeing that your application will be approved. Your application for credit products is subject to the Provider's terms and conditions as well as their application and lending criteria.