So Sayeth the Odinson: Kung Fu: It Cures What Ails Ya

Greetings from the Odinson,

Kung Fu: It Cures What Ails Ya

When I was a kid, every Saturday morning, after the cartoons were over, there came another show every bit as vibrant and exciting as the animated adventures that preceded it.  It was called Kung Fu Theatre. 

The theme song that started every show and gave that extra punch to the television advertisements for this glorious piece of small screen entertainment was the seminal pop disco jam “Kung Fu Fighting” by Carl Douglas.  The song itself was inspired by the very films Kung Fu Theatre presented to the audience. 

These movies featured stories of Chinese history, myths, and legends as told through the lens of superhuman adventure.  These movies showcased powerful warriors with superhuman fighting skills and abilities defending their honor, exposing deadly conspiracies, saving the kingdom, or just finding out who is the strongest. 

They were basically superhero stories. 

Of all the films the Odinson digested, without a doubt, the Shaw Brothers made the best.  Nothing was better than spending a late Saturday morning with the Five Element Ninjas, The Kid with the Golden Arm, and, of course, The Five Deadly Venoms.  But my All-Time favorite was Invincible Shaolin, (or The Unbeatable Dragon as I knew it as a kid), a lightning-fast revenge tale about two schools of superhuman monks being pitted against each other by a manipulating warlord with aspirations of taking over the empire. 

Invincible Shaolin

Over the years, these remarkable films starring world class athletes and performers and the stories they told have influenced so much of the pop culture we enjoy today.

Marvel superheroes like Shang Chi the Master of Kung Fu, Iron Fist, the Sons of the Tiger, and the Daughters of the Dragon as well as DC Comics’ Richard Dragon, Lady Shiva, and the Bronze Tiger are all direct descendants of the popularity of these fantastic films. 

Frank Miller’s incredible Daredevil run and highly underrated sci-fi/martial arts epic Ronin owe a lot of their zest to what the Shaw Brothers were doing on the screen. 

In Kung Fu, the good-hearted monk Kwai Chang Caine wandered the vast open plains and prairies of the Old West.  He roamed from remote settlements to outlaw towns bringing his brand of kung fu justice to town and he singlehandedly tamed the Wild West. 

Berry Gordy’s The Last Dragon

In The Last Dragon, the only thing standing in the way of the malevolent schemes of the diabolical Eddie Arkadian and the all but invincible Sho’Nuff from becoming the Shogun of Harlem is Bruce Leroy, a young man who seeks to reach the upper level.  On the day he discovers there is only one true master, he will achieve The Glow, a golden radiance that will engulf his mind, body, and spirit and take him to that next level of superhuman enlightenment and kung fu power. 

In The Shaolin Cowboy, set in the post-Apocalyptic world of the day after yesterday and a week before tomorrow, mechanical monsters, flesh-eating zombies, killer mutant sharks, and rampaging dinosaurs are no match for the kung fu prowess and the dual chainsaws of the titular monk that wanders this desolate land.

In The Matrix, set in a future where sentient machines have enslaved mankind, their only hope rests in the hands of Neo, an everyman whose eyes have been opened to the world of the Real and just learned kung fu by having it downloaded directly into his brain. 

From the high-flying and beautiful acrobatic adventures of Kung Fu Theatre to the mean streets of The Last Dragon’s Harlem to the post-Apocalyptic world of The Matrix, it is safe to say that if you have a problem that needs solving or need to save the world, when in doubt, just throw some Kung fu at it.

This is Odinson bidding thee farewell

NOTE: For past entries of the So Sayeth the Odinson blog, over a decade’s worth of comic book and pop culture articles and reviews, click HERE.  Also, be sure to check out my novels The Survivors and Autumn Dawn, which were inspired by 1980s horror – HERE and HERE

About Odinson

I am a lifelong comics fan and pop culture enthusiast. Comic books, novels, games, television, movies, I love it all. From fantasy to science fiction, drama to comedy, as long as the writing and execution are interesting, I love it, and I want to talk about it.

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