In Kim’s gripping iteration (one episode was given for review), she corrects the wrongs of appropriation to shape a modern and painfully relevant take that features high-flying action on a melodramatic storyline.
Kim’s soap opera comes quickly and early when, thanks to the voiceover, Nicky Shen (Olivia Liang) recalls how her mother (Kheng Hua Tan) sent her to China on a matchmaking tour for potential suitors. Rather than face her mother’s extreme expectations, Nicky jumps into a van owned by Priest Shaolin Pei-Ling (Vanessa Kai), travels with her to a monastery, stays three years, leaving Harvard, her family and her boyfriend behind. . . Yikes!
After tragedy befalls the female-only temple she calls home, where a mysterious foe Zhilan (Yvonne Chapman) steals an ancient magical sword, she returns to San Francisco not only to retrieve the artifact, but to face the life she left behind. Nicky’s sister (Shannon Dang) is getting married now; her brother (Jon Prasida) despises her; her authoritarian mother denied her; and her ex-boyfriend (Gavin Stenhouse), now deputy prosecutor, switched to a new girlfriend. The only person still emotionally familiar to Nicky is her beloved dad, played by accomplished Asian dad, the famous Tzi Ma. All of these beats come in frankly, in a bit of a rush, making their seriousness very melodramatic.
Outside of the basic premise, Nicky’s Shaolin monk training, this “Kung Fu” bears little resemblance to Carradine’s wandering Western-themed series regarding the exoticism of martial arts and the Orient. The model closer to the modern reboot appears in the fight against crime, the 1990s iteration in Chinatown San Francisco, “Kung Fu: The Legend Continues,” in which Carradine, playing Kwai’s grandson, local crooks fight with his son Det. Peter Caine (Chris Potter).
In this first episode, Nicky similarly fights the same forces when she finds out that local leader Tony Kang (Tristan Liu) is shaking his father after his mother takes out a $ 50,000 loan from the leader. of crime. As their debt to Kang now skyrocketed to $ 100,000, his minions put his father in the hospital after a heavy beating, forcing Nicky to take matters into his own hands. She and Henry (Eddie Liu), a possible dreamboat love interest, plan to find other Chinatown business owners struggling under the loan shark’s oppressive thumb. With the real rise in violence against the people of the AAPI, notably the recent shooting of eight Atlanta spa workers, seeing the Asian characters in “Kung Fu” band together to defend against brutality carries additional, unintentional weight – power that strikes with significant force with every leg sweep and hard-hitting punch Nicky delivers.