Synopsis: Kung Fu focuses on Nicky Shen. When her mentor is killed at the Shaolin Monastery where she’s been training. Nicky is forced to return home to her very traditional Chinese family. But when she finds her community is under the thumb of a Triad. She vows to serve as her community’s protector.
When Nicky Shen is sent to China on what she believes to be a cultural exchange but is really a ploy to marry her off. She runs for the hills and winds up joining a Shaolin Monastery for women. She stays there and trains in the arts of kung fu and Chinese mysticism for three years. However, when her monastery is attacked and her mentor Pei-ling is killed. She goes after her killer and winds up returning home. She is greeted with warmth by her father, but her mother is not pleased that she ran away and has for the moment disowned her. But when she learns that her father is in debt to a loan shark and has been beaten up. Nicky gets together with her brother and sister to try and rally the Chinese community to volunteer information about the local triad leader.
It isn’t long before Nicky dispatches some wicked Kung Fu moves when a couple of triad goons make themselves known. However, Nicky’s main target is a former Shaolin member called Zhilan who murdered her mentor and stole a sacred sword. In the episode, we learn that this sacred sword is one of 8 mystical weapons that was designed by an ancient Shaolin Mystic. And it is said that whoever possesses all eight weapons can become all-powerful.
Olivia Liang does a pretty good job of establishing her role as Nicky and her scenes with her mentor played by Vanessa Kai do a pretty good job establishing that mentor and student relationship that was an extremely important element of the original series. Indeed, the few flashback sequences we see were pretty effective. And the chemistry between Nicky and Pei-ling.
Yvonne Chapman also puts in a strong showing as Zhilan, who will be the main villain throughout this show’s run.
Tzi Ma puts in a solid performance as Nicky’s father Jin who I liked right away. And we got strong establishing performances from all the other actors playing key roles within Nicky’s community.
I have to admit. As someone who remembers the original series from the 1970s and then the sequel to that show from the 1990s. I didn’t have particularly high expectations for this show. But after seeing this first episode. I find myself pleasantly surprised. I loved the mythological aspect of the show and its willingness to delve into and be somewhat creative with Shaolin’s mysticism. One of the people Nicky comes into contact with when she returns home is Henry Yan who has an interest in the Shaolin and looks like he will become a key ally.
This new approach to Kung Fu looks so far to have a few more pros than cons in its favor. For one thing. It is a win for representation from the Chinese American community. We get a lot of great performances from the actors as well as a bit of an insight into a Chinese community. We are given some strong characters and intriguing storylines to look forward to. So I am erring on the side of hopefulness that the CW can make this show a success without it getting quite as soap opera-ish as the superhero shows.
- CGI & Stunts9.6
- Incidental Music9.2