Thursday, June 11, 2009

Loss of a hero

Kwai Chang Caine's passing would have been difficult enough, but to think that his murder took place right here in the city of Bangkok has made this even worse. Bangkok is a very metropolitan city and has incredible wealth, so at times it is easy to forget that it is still in the 3rd world where hired guns are cheap. I can not speculate on why David Carradine was murdered, but I would like to express why I think it was such a horrible loss.

Kung Fu was an American TV sensation in the 70's. It was still a media world where Asian faces were not really allowed to be leading rolls. Carradine was not Chinese, and yet almost everything American's knew about Eastern philosophy and especially Kung Fu, comes from his portrayal of Kwai Chang Caine, the benevolent drifter who upheld the honorable antics of a great knight. He showed us in the west that the Chinese culture had a lot to offer and a lot to be respected for. It was this show that first inspired me to begin wondering about the far East and now some 30 plus years later I find myself living here. 

Young people know him for his roll in the Kill Bill movies, and this was a wonderful exploration of his martial arts experience and his stage presence. Even in his early 70's he could still produce the kind of acting work that inspired the young and old a like. 

He will be greatly missed by my generation. We loved Bruce Lee, and because David got the Kung Fu roll instead of him there are some people who hold a slight and silly grudge about that. But Bruce Lee was on a different path, a film path, that TV might have killed. David was perfect for the roll even if his martial arts wasn't as spectacular as Bruce Lee, his acting skills were spectacular and moving. 

It is sad when our heroes die and even more sad when they die ugly. I hope the USA uses their influence to spur along Thai authorities and some leads are generated in his murder.