Nicky Shen learning martial arts in China,
Source: The CW

The CW's ‘Kung Fu’ Reboot Has One Thing in Common with the Original — Its Name

Toni Sutton - Author

Apr. 7 2021, Published 9:11 p.m. ET

The CW's Kung Fu is centered around Nicky Shen (Olivia Liang), a Chinese-American woman who decided to drop out of college and is sent to China by her parents. However, after discovering the real reason her family has sent her on this trip, she flees, instead finding herself at a remote monastery where she is taught Shaolin values and martial arts. Nicky returns to her home in San Francisco after her mentor is murdered — only to find that a local gang had taken over her community.  

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Her newfound abilities will come in handy a lot sooner than she thinks as she settles in. Meanwhile, she also reconnects with her family — including dad Jin (Tzi Ma), mom Mei-Li (Kheng Hua Tan), sister Althea (Shannon Dang), brother Ryan (Jon Prasida), Althea's fiance Dennis (Tony Chug), and Nicky's estranged ex-boyfriend Evan (Gavin Stenhouse). 

Nicky's arrival will reopen old wounds about family dynamics, mainly involving her demanding mom, who has invested plenty of hopes and dreams in Nicky's once-promising future. The CW action drama series Kung Fu is the modern-day reboot of the '70s show with the same name, and from what we know so far, that's where all the similarities end. Keep reading about the newest show to air on the CW. 

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Source: The CW

The CW reboot is completely different from the original 'Kung Fu' series.

The television show Kung Fu originated back in 1972, airing on ABC. The series starred David Carradine, who portrayed Kwai Chang Caine, a half-Chinese, half-white man who's a trained Shaolin monk who travels through the American West after fleeing China following his mentor's murder. Kung Fu also led to the syndicated series Kung Fu: The Legend Continues, which aired from 1993 to 1997, also starring David.

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The reboot is said to also be different from the original in feeling and energy. Though it’s an action drama, the modern-day series is not somber and has its comical moments. Another huge difference is that this new version of Kung Fu stars mostly an Asian cast, which was not present in the '70s show. Even though many believed David was at least partially Asian during the original show's airing, he was actually not at all Chinese.

cast members of kung fu
Source: The CW
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In an interview with the New York Times, Olivia discussed the original show and the reboot and said, "That show was a little before my time, but my uncle and my mom growing up would watch it. So it was very surreal to them when I got this part. I’m just really happy that we get to re-imagine it — and maybe do it the way that it should have been done, with Asian people at the forefront.”

Olivia Lang learned martial arts for her role on the 'Kung Fu' reboot.

Over the years, as television fight sequences have become more sophisticated, viewers have grown accustomed to the martial arts realness portrayed on the small screen. Olivia began studying martial arts before the series started to film and is still learning. There's no stunt double or any pretending on the CW's Kung Fu reboot set. Olivia recently talked about her off-camera training in an interview with TVLine.

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She shared, "This show is my first real experience with martial arts, and I feel so privileged that I get to learn it for my job. Doing these beautifully choreographed fight sequences, it just really makes me feel strong, and it's really translating into my personal life of just feeling a lot more powerful and a lot taller and stronger and bigger and just ready to take on the world." 

Source: The CW
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In another interview with the Associated Press, she spoke about why she never learned any kind of martial arts, and her response is quite interesting. Olivia revealed, "When I started off in the industry, people would ask me why martial arts wasn't on my resume because it was such a typecast for Asians to do martial arts roles. So I made a promise to myself. I was like, 'I'll never learn martial arts until someone pays me to learn martial arts.'"

Kung Fu premieres April 7 at 8 p.m. EST on the CW. New episodes drop Wednesdays.

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