Putting the warrior in social justice warrior, the rebooted version of the classic TV series Kung Fu debuts Wednesday on the teen-oriented CW network. In place of the late David Carradine, the woke series features a feminist heroine and an overarching emphasis on “social justice.”
Show creator Christina M. Kim said it was important to move away from Carradine’s white, male protagonist.
“In the original series, the lead character was not Asian,” Kim said during a recent press event, according to a report from Yahoo Entertainment. “For me, it was important that we change that, and for myself as a woman, I really wanted a strong female Asian lead who was kicking butt and was the role model that I wished I had on TV growing up.”
The new Kung Fu focuses on a female Chinese-American law-school dropout who becomes a martial arts warrior (Olivia Liang). After mastering kung fu, she returns home to San Francisco to protect her parents and to fight violent triads.
Liang said the show offers an opportunity to address Asian on-screen representation.
“I think the timing of our show is really impeccable,” she reportedly said. “We Asians need to see ourselves represented on the screens, but we need to be invited into people’s homes who don’t see us in their everyday life, just to humanize us, normalize seeing us, remind them that we are people just like they are and that we have a place in this world, and hopefully having our show in their homes will expand that worldview for them.”
Actress Kheng Hua Tan, who plays her mother, reportedly said the show will emphasize “social justice” by showing “characters of all ages and all walks of life trying to work together to do what’s best for the community to help.”
The original 1972 series starring David Carradine ran for three seasons on ABC.