However Sad the Memories I do recall reading the recollections of Bruce Lee who had thought that he would lead in the TV series, though I can only find an oblique reference with a rapid google ...
" In her memoirs, Bruce Lee's widow, Linda Lee Cadwell, asserts that Lee actually created the concept for the series, which was then stolen by Warner Bros. However, there is no verifiable documentation of such an incident, and Herbie Pilato, in his 1993 book The Kung Fu Book of Caine: The Complete Guide to TV's First Mystical Eastern Western, commented on the casting history for the series, particularly on the involvement of both Carradine and Bruce Lee:
Before the filming of the Kung Fu TV movie began, there was some discussion as to whether or not an Asian actor should play Kwai Chang Caine. Bruce Lee was considered for the role. In 1971, Bruce Lee wasn't the cult film hero he later became for his roles in Fists of Fury (1971), Enter the Dragon (1973), and Game of Death (1978). At that point he was best known as Kato on TV's Green Hornet (19661967) (Kung Fu guest actor Robert Ito reports that Lee hated the role of Kato because he "thought it was so subservient"). "In my eyes and in the eyes of Jerry Thorpe," says Harvey Frand, "David Carradine was always our first choice to play Caine. But there was some disagreement because the network was interested in a more muscular actor and the studio was interested in getting Bruce Lee." Frand says Lee wouldn't have really been appropriate for the series despite the fact that he went on to considerable success in the martial arts film world. The Kung Fu show needed a serene person, and Carradine was more appropriate for the role. Ed Spielman agrees: "I liked David in the part. One of Japan's foremost Karate champions used to say that the only qualification that was needed to be trained in the martial arts was that you had to know how to dance. And on top of being an accomplished athlete and actor, David could dance." Nonetheless, grumbling from the Asian community would have made sense, given the fact that major roles for Asian actors were almost nonexistent. James Hong, an actor on the show and ex-president of the Association of Asian/Pacific American Artists (AAPAA) says that at the time Asian actors felt that "if they were going to do a so-called Asian hero on Kung Fu, then why don't they hire an Asian actor to play the lead? But then the show went on, we realized that it was a great source of employment for the Asian acting community." In fact, Hong says, Carradine had a good relationship with the Asian community. (pages 3233) "
Ho Hum that Good Relationship sounds awfully like Good Old Yankee Racism. The chances that the TV Execs of that time would have accepted Lee in the role are vanishingly small.
It seems to me that Carradine always moved rather slowly and awkwardly in the role and got by with a Clint Eastwood Stillness that never quite worked ... as for the ' Kill Bill ' Films .. Oh, come On ! ..Fun in a Stylized sort of way but Carradine built his later-day Kung Fu ish career on that old TV series that is hardly watchable unless you have nostalgic Childhood memories of the period.
Carradines death is both Sad and Grim .. sounds like some sort of Auto Eroticism doesn't it .. what a Waste.
There may,or may not,have been racism involved in not casting Bruce Lee,but I think that the major factor would have been the view that he was not considered a strong enough actor to carry the lead role in a major series.
Even in Enter the Dragon there is a certain woodeness in both his performance,and the delivery of dialogue.
David Carradine admits himself that he had had no martial arts training prior to commencing Season 1,and one could see it,but he did improve as the series progressed.He also developed a deep interest in Tai Chi.
Yes the fights will seem tame by todays standards,but then so do those of Bruce Lee.
Just compare any of his fight sequences with that of Jet Li in the gymnasium in "Kiss of the Dragon",or Tony Jaa's in "The Warrior King".
Thanks for the tip SATM I ordered the 2 box sets, I thought the earlier programs where better than the later ones.
As to who got the lead role I think it would have been a different program if bruce Lee had gotten the role, David Caradine played it more laid back and peaceful than what I think Bruce Lee would have played it more with a bit of an attitude although the fight scenes would have been better.
If it was Bruces idea it a shame he was not given the role success or failure it would have been nice and to have had an Asian actor in a lead role in them days.
the aspect ratio represents the shape of the viewed image.
The programmes were originally transmitted in a 4:3 format,so when viewed on a modern wide screen TV you have a bar running vertically up each side of the screen.
The Seasons 1,and 2,Region 2 (Europe) box sets were stretched to fit a full (16:9) widescreen TV to eliminate the vertical bars,but in doing this one loses some of the top,and bottom,of the original image.
The Region 1 (predominately the USA) Season 2 boxset has retained the original 4:3 format.
Generally a Region 1 DVD will not play on a standard Region 2 player.
However,it would appear that the Season 2,Region 1 boxset is not Region locked,and does in fact play on a Region 2 player.