Actor David Carradine has been found dead of an apparent suicide in a luxury hotel room in Bangkok, Thailand. David Carradine, who was in Bangkok filming a movie, was found hanging. Authorities have not said whether there was a suicide note.
David Carradine is part of a theatrical family that include his father John Carradine and his brother Keith Carradine, the latter due to reprise his role as an FBI agent in the Showtime Drama, Dexter. David Caradine has appeared in over a hundred films and has worked with such directors as Martin Scorsese, Ingmar Bergman, and Quentin Tarantino.
One of David Carradine’s most famous films was the 1976 film biop of Depression era singing Woody Guthrie Bound for Glory. In the same era, David Caradine appeared in a cult, science fiction film, Death Race 2000, a dystopian story of cross country car races that was half a race half a gladiatorial contest in cars in what was then the future.
David Carradine appeared in numerous TV shows in guest roles. The TV genre provided David Carradine with one of his most famous role, as the half Chinese, half American Shaolin monk Kwai Chang Caine in Kung Fu in the early 1970s.
Kung Fu was an odd western that depicted Kwai Chang Caine as a “fish out of water” character wandering about the American West, suffering racial prejudice, helping people with his strange martial arts skills while being chased by agents of the Chinese Emperor whose relative he killed in a moment of anger.
Kung Fu was one of the early depictions of Chinese culture on American TV, putting a pacifist character in an milieu that was known for its violence and for people who solved problems through violence. Kung Fu also had some numerous flashbacks, sometimes taking up entire episodes, at the Shaolin temple where Kwai Chang Caine was raised and trained by his beloved blind Master Po, who referred to his young student as “Grasshopper”, part out of affection, part out of desire to teach him humility.
Kwai Chang Caine always behaved with a zen like demeanor of calm that was occassionally unnerving to the American charecters that he encountered. Following the Shaolin Taoist philosophy, he would never initiate an attack, but he would use his martial arts skills to resolve violence quickly and effectively. Kung Fu, which presented Kwai Chang Caine with a different problem every week in the standard way of episodic TV, depicted him using the Taoist way that he learned at the Shaolin temple to resolve those problems. Of course he was also pretty impressive at kicking the snot out of the bad guys when they got too ornery.
Bruce Lee was considered for the role of Kwai Chang Caine, but was rejected because the TV network did not think American audience was ready for ab Asian protagonist, hence the mixed race nature of the charecter as played by David Carradine.
Kung Fu was revived in the mid 1990s as Kung Fu: The Legend Continues in which David Carradine appeared again in the persona of Kwai Chang Caine in the present day. It was somewhat left ambiguous whether this Kwai Chang Caine was a descendent of the other Kwai Chang Caine or if they were one in the same. Kung Fu: The Legend Continues was a cop show in which Kwai Chang Caine’s son was a somewhat westernized police detective. The show often went overboard into strange, mystical paths, but it did have some flashes of humor, as when Kwai Chang Caine is presented with a “grasshopper” drink at a bar.
David Carradine’s most famous recent role was that of Bill in the two Kill Bill films, starring Uma Thurman. Bill was sort of an evil version of Kwai Chang Caine, leading a mysterious group of assassins. Bill makes the mistake of trying to kill his favorite protégé and lover, known as “the Bride” and “Kiddo” played by Uma Thurman. When Kiddo recovers from a years long coma, she goes on a bloody, operatic killing spree in which she slaughters all the other members of the assassins group before her final confrontation with Bill.
Bill has all of the Zen like calm of Kwai Chang Caine, but it is clear that he is quite insane. When he is about to administer what he thinks is the coup de grace to Kiddo, he informs her that he is about to perform an act of masochism. It’s creepy, but makes a little sense when one considers their relationship.
David Carradine was 72 and was enjoying a revival of his career when he apparently decided to end it in such an abrupt manner. He will be, of course, missed.
Source: David Carradine, IMDB
Kung Fu Star David Carradine Found Dead, Sky News, June 4th, 2009