Kung Fu – Pilot

by Alan Rapp on April 9, 2021

in Television Reviews 

  • Title: Kung Fu (2021) – Pilot
  • IMDb: link

Kung Fu - Pilot television review

After three years in an all-female Shaolin monastery Nicky Shen (Olivia Liang) returns home following the ransacking of the temple, death of her mentor (Vanessa Kai), and the theft of a (magic?) sword by one of the monastery’s former students (Yvonne Chapman). Following the narration-heavy opening in China, the story shifts to San Francisco and Nicky’s attempts to reconnect with her demanding family and the boyfriend (Gavin Stenhouse) she left behind. While still looking for answers concerning the sword and mystery woman, an attack on her father (Tzi Ma) leads Nicky to put her training to use against the Triad who are terrorizing the community and threatening both the family’s restaurant and her father’s life.

The first episode is an odd mix of mysticism and legendary magical weapons, family dysfunction, over-the-top super-heroics, and the longer grittier fight against organized crime. The different pieces don’t all fit together and there is plenty of room for improvement. The show being centered around a strong Asian-Asian female character helps to avoid the awkward whitewashing of the original series and the action scenes work well-enough (although I could do with a bit less slow motion). The magical weapon plot, which apparently is going to be central to the show, is the goofiest aspect so far as Kung Fu struggles to balance that thread with the other storylines. It’s also a bit unclear how the family beats the Triad in a single episode thanks to the kind investigation, superb hacking, and proof falling into your lap, you can only find on a super-hero show.

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