February 01, 1993 12:00 PM

Syndicated (Check local listings)


You must remember this: A kick is still a kick. In this updated sequel, David Carradine once again plays a flashback-bedeviled Amerasian named Kwai Chang Caine; only now he’s the grandson of the martial arts master he portrayed in ABC’s Old West series from the ’70s. Like his—ancestor, Kung Fu the Younger has a dragon tattoo on his forearm, signifying training as a Shaolin priest. That means he’s given to spouting pseudo-Confucian aphorisms such as, “When you understand your motives and the motives of your enemies, you cannot help but win.” The profundity is apparently infectious. Even villains scream at their henchmen such dialogue as, “The source of all life is a profound mystery.”

The original show was pure genius. Each episode, the gentle pacifist would he goaded unmercifully until, in glorious slo-mo, he would disassemble a pack of rude yahoos. You’d sit through all the mystical guff waiting for Carradine to practice the exact opposite of what he preached.

This time, Carradine’s lonely wanderer pads around modern-city streets and needs a lot less provocation to unleash his skills. This is also the story of Carradine’s estranged son (Chris Potter), a remarkably trigger-happy cop. (Though he seems to mellow out after the megaviolent pilot episode—to the detriment of the show.) Robert Lansing costars.

The premise doesn’t work all that well in a contemporary setting. That’s not Carradine’s fault. As Caine, he’s still able. At 56, he may not be able to put his foot upside anyone’s head, but he’s murder on the thorax. It’s the plotting that’s problematic. But if you’re a fan of weakly written action fare, you just hit pay dirt, Grasshopper.

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