Kung Fu | Donnie Yen to star in film adaptation of television series

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Classic 1970s television series Kung Fu is heading to the big screen, and Donnie Yen will star – more here.

A feature film based on the classic 1970s TV series Kung Fu has been in development for some time, and now it seems to be moving forward at Universal Pictures and 87North.

According to Deadline, John Wick director David Leitch will helm the film from a screenplay by Stephen Chin, with Ip Man star Donnie Yen set to play Kwai Chang Caine, a role first inhabited by David Carradine.

Martial arts icon Bruce Lee famously auditioned for the lead role in the original 1972 series, but lost out, of course, to Carradine. He played Caine, a spiritual monk who roams the Old West in the 1800s, wandering into confrontations and fist fights every week. The show proved popular, with phrases like ‘grasshopper’ making their way into the cultural lexicon.

Two sequel series, Kung Fu: The Next Generation, which starred Brandon Lee, and Kung Fu: The Legend Continues, were made in the 1990s. The latter saw Carradine play Caine’s descendant as he  and his son, played by Chris Potter, fight crime in the modern day.

A reboot, starring Olivia Liang, ran for three seasons from 2021 to 2023.

Back in the present, Donnie Yen was recently seen in John Wick 4, and has pioneered the depiction of mixed martial arts onscreen; his epic battle with Sammo Hung in Kill Zone and Collin Chou in Flashpoint are prime examples. (Last year Yen announced that he was working on a sequel to Flashpoint, as well as a sequel to Ip Man 5.)

His most recent film is Sakra, an adaptation of the classic Chinese wuxia novel Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils, a passion project for Yen – he wrote, directed and plays the lead role. It’s available to watch on Amazon Prime.

We’ll keep you updated as we hear more.

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