Donnie Yen to Star in Kung Fu Movie from 87North

After this year’s The Fall Guy, 87North is adapting another classic action TV show. Deadline reports that the burgeoning action studio is developing a movie version of Kung Fu, based on the 70s TV series starring David Carradine. In the new film, Donnie Yen will play Kwai Chang Caine, the lead role originated by Carradine. David Leitch, who is producing the Kung Fu movie along with 87North co-founder Kelly McCormick and Guy Danella, is likely to direct the film. The script is from Stephen Chin, who also wrote War Dogs (which I quite liked). The TV show Kung Fu was about a Shaolin Monk who traverses the American West looking for his half-brother and getting into adventures while trying (and failing because it’s an action show) to live in peace. Universal will distribute Kung Fu, but there’s no production time frame or release date yet.

That last bit got me thinking: isn’t it nice to see a movie that will have a script, cast, and production team in place before it gets a release date? That’s the opposite of how the big guys do it, but it’s more responsible and results in a better product. For evidence, look at the last two Marvel phases, which have all had release dates assigned before any of the creative elements were hired, and then look at 87North’s output: the John Wick movies, Nobody, Violent Night, Bullet Train, etc. The track records are worlds apart, and while I dread seeing what Disney is about to do to whichever Marvel superhero is next in line to be humiliated, I can’t wait to hear what 87North is up to. A Kung Fu adaptation wouldn’t have been my first choice if I’m being honest; I’d rather they make original movies like they’ve done pre-Fall Guy (with the caveat that Bullet Train was based on a book). But I trust this studio, and I’m more than happy to give them the benefit of the doubt – and, to be fair, they’ve got With Love on the way, too. I imagine Donnie Yen’s casting has at least a little bit to do with his acclaimed performance in John Wick: Chapter 4, which is understandable; he was terrific in that film, and as much as I liked his character, I’d rather him do something like this than the often-suggested John Wick spin-off, playing a character that was designed to be the lead. I’ve never seen an episode of Kung Fu, so unless I catch up between now and the movie’s release, I’ll have no frame of reference. And that suits me just fine; that’s how I’ll see The Fall Guy, and again, I trust 87North.

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