The CW’s reboot of Kung Fu has found its Caine. (Sort of.)
As reported by Deadline (via The Wrap), Olivia Liang will play the lead role of Nicky Chen in the series pilot, a reimagining of the wandering Shaolin monk Kwai Chang Caine played somewhat notoriously by David Carradine in the original series, which aired from 1972 to 1975. Carradine also starred as Caine’s grandson in a syndicated sequel series Kung Fu: The Legend Continues in the mid 1990s.
Liang currently appears as Alyssa Chang on the CW series Legacies, a spin-off of The Vampire Diaries. The pilot, originally in production at Fox before making the jump to the CW, is being written by Blindspot scribe and co-executive producer Christina M. Kim, who also wrote for that desert island show Lost you may remember from a few years back.
Here’s the official synopsis:
“A quarter-life crisis causes a young Chinese-American woman, Nicky Chen, to drop out of college and go on a life-changing journey to an isolated monastery in China. But when she returns to find her hometown overrun with crime and corruption, Nicky uses her martial arts skills and Shaolin values to protect her community and bring criminals to justice — all while searching for the assassin who killed her Shaolin mentor and is now targeting her.”
Kung Fu has always been a somewhat problematic series, considering the lead role of a Shaolin monk was played by a white actor. So rebooting the character as a Chinese-American woman is definitely a smart move. And the synopsis sounds like the kind of cheesy popcorn fun that would fit right in with the CW’s current lineup of shows, should the pilot get a full season order.