The series has been presented as a reimagining of the original 1972 Kung Fu television show starring David Carradine. Other than the fact that they were both trained in the art of Kung Fu, there are no similarities whatsoever. The original was about a young monk who traveled through America’s old west helping those in need. In the new version, it features Nicky Shen (Olivia Liang), a young college girl who is unsure of the path her life is heading. While on a vacation in China, she finds a monastery where she is trained by Pei-Ling (Vanessa Kai) in the ways of Kung Fu. Nicky spends the next five years running away from her problems back home and it isn’t until Pei-Ling is murdered by her own sister Zhilan (Yvonne Chapman) for a mystical sword, that Nicky finally returns home to her family. The rest of the season is spent trying to track down her Shifu’s killer and stop Zhilan who teamed up with crime boss Russell Tan (Kee Chan) as they try to collect seven additional mystical weapons that are rumored to hold legendary power.
Season two opens six months later after Nicky and Zhilan’s explosive confrontation. Nicky has settled in with her family and spends her time training and helping the people in her neighborhood. But she isn’t the only one looking after the community. Her boyfriend, Henry (Eddie Liu), a specialist in ancient Chinese artifacts; sister Althea (Shannon Dang), a technical genius; and younger brother Ryan (Jon Prasida), a medical doctor, have become her support team. Even her parents have joined in as Nicky’s mother has been aware of her destiny and the history of the supernatural Warriors and Guardians.
Things are going relatively smoothly when there’s a break-in at the family’s home. Assuming it has something to do with Russell Tan, Nicky is surprised to find out that she has a cousin, Mia (Vanessa Yao). Nobody knew that she even existed because her aunt had disappeared long ago. After doing some research, Mia is found to be more than what she appears. She is neither a Guardian nor a Warrior. She is a hybrid of the two, which has only happened one other time in history. And the mingling of the two bloodlines drove the original into violent fits of madness. Nicky refuses to believe that her cousin is destined to go mad and does everything she can to protect her from that knowledge and guide her on the path to goodness.
Unfortunately, Russell also knows about Mia and has determined that she is a vital piece to his latest malevolent plans. He has found an ancient bell that has great power and can level all of San Francisco with a giant earthquake, but only if it is rung with a specific hammer wielded by a hybrid with both bloodlines. Once the team discovers his intentions, they pull out all the stops trying to thwart his plans, including destroying the bell. But Russell manages to counter their best-efforts time and time again. After a horrifying discovery of what his true aspirations are it takes more than Nicky to stop him as she has to trust someone who was once a bitter enemy.
This DVD set contains two discs with all 13 episodes from the season and one Special Feature, which is a “GAG Reel”, is a pretty standard short watching the actors flub their lines and break character. Considering this is an action show with martial arts, it would have been nice to have seen some of the mistakes during some of the fights.
Overall, it’s an entertaining show with interesting characters, good special effects, plenty of action, and a unique storyline. Kung Fu has come into its stride during the second season. The martial arts choreography has advanced significantly, and the storyline is much more interesting with a number of unexpected plot twists that keep the audience guessing up until the final episode. The family dynamic with the loving parents and siblings is another strong aspect that leads to some nice character development and adds to the interest involving smaller events other than the main plotline. There’s a nice dichotomy between the Shens and the Tans who are polar opposites. with one as dysfunctional as the other is unified. Unfortunately, the DVD is pretty simplistic and you’re just getting the exact version that was released on television with no special enhancements or additional footage.
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