David Carradine was one of the last grungy B-movie kings. The fight scene above from Kung Fu: The Movie, featuring Carradine fighting against Brandon Lee, is preposterous by just about every measure. But it captures our interest because Carradine truly wanted to sell the scene in his strange and distinctive manner. Carradine was the master of the silly gesture and the rip-your-guts-out expression, a combination rarely seen in contemporary cinema and, for that matter, rarely seen in the 1970s and the 1980s. But Carradine had the boldness to make it work. As Caine, Carradine had a higher tenor than you expected. His voice was slightly unsuited to his character. The constant declarations that he would not fight or that he was not interested in money proved to be a load of bollocks. But goddammit, he was interesting. He came up during a time in which schlocky filmmakers compensated for cheesy scripts by giving actors bizarre things to do. He was quirky yet strangely masculine. And it’s doubtful we’ll see his like again for some time.
© 2009, Edward Champion. All rights reserved.