Rafu Staff Report
The CW announced on May 11 that it will not renew “Kung Fu” for another season.
The reboot of the classic ABC series premiered in April 2021 and was renewed for a second and third season. The series ran for a total of 39 episodes.
Unlike the 1972-1975 original, which starred a non-Asian actor, David Carradine, as Kwai Chang Caine, a fugitive Shaolin monk traveling the Old West, the new series had a predominantly Asian cast and was set in present-day San Francisco.
The series followed a young Chinese American woman, Nicky Shen (Olivia Liang), whose personal issues force her to leave college and make a life-changing journey to an isolated monastery in China. On her return to America three years later, she uses her martial arts skills and Shaolin values to protect her community when her hometown is plagued by crime and corruption, all while dealing with her estranged family and searching for the assassin who killed her Shaolin mentor and is now targeting her.
“It has been the honor of my (expletive) life to work with this group of humans,” Liang posted on Instagram. “We made a historic three seasons of a show. First predominantly Asian cast in a one-hour network drama. First Asian American female showrunner (Christina Kim). I don’t have enough words … to express my gratitude to my showrunners, my writers, my cast, my stunt team, my (expletive) crew… I love you all.
“I truly won the lottery. They are all the kindest, smartest, funniest, most hard-working people in the biz. I am so so so proud of the work we did. Thank you to everyone who invited us into your homes and watched our little show that could. Cheers to ‘Kung Fu,’ the show that changed my life forever. I love you Nicky Shen.”
Liang’s previous TV credits include 11 episodes of “Legacies,” a series about a vampire-werewolf hybrid.
The cast also included Kheng Hua Tan as Nicky’s mother, Mei Li; Eddie Liu as Henry Yan, Nicky’s love interest; Shannon Dang as Althea, Nicky’s older sister; Jon Prasida as Ryan, Nicky’s younger brother; Gavin Stenhouse as Evan, Nicky’s ex-boyfriend; Vanessa Kai as Pei-Ling Zhang, Nicky’s mentor, who now appears to her as a ghost; Tony Chung as Dennis, Althea’s husband; Tzi Ma as Jin, Nicky’s father; Yvonne Chapman as Zhilan Zhang, Pei-Ling’s sister; and JB Tadena as Sebastian, Ryan’s love interest.
Ma posted on Facebook, “I am proud and grateful to you, Christina Kim, for creating Kung Fu for us to move the needle on how we are perceived as an Asian American family! You and Bob (executive producer Robert Berens) were the best bosses I’ve ever worked for!
“And to my talented KF family, I have my eyes on you to see where you all will make your mark next! I wish you all the best and you will all be missed! To our devoted viewers, my deepest thanks for your support all 3 seasons!”
Ma has screen credits going back to 1979. His films include “Rush Hour” (1998), “The Quiet American” (2002), “Arrival” (2016), “The Farewell” (2019) and “Mulan” (2020). His recent TV appearances include “Bosch,” “Veep,” “Silicon Valley,” “Madam Secretary,” “Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders” and “The Man in the High Castle.”
According to Deadline, Warner Bros. Television explored other options for the series but was not able to find a new home for it.
A Change.org petition (chng.it/Hf94W7y5) has been launched to revive “Kung Fu” on HBO Max, Paramount+, Fox or Netflix.
Occasionally a canceled series gets a reprieve from another network, as was the case with the “Magnum, P.I.” reboot, which was dropped by CBS and picked up by NBC.