Saturday, June 06, 2009

David Carradine 1936-2009

I have a fondness for the entire Carradine family. There's legendary character actor father John, underrated brother Keith (check out "I heart Keith Carradine" in November '08 archives) and lesser known brother Robert (Revenge of the Nerds!). David, the tall and lanky oldest brother, recently hung himself in Bangkok, Thailand at the age of 72 (at this time it isn't known whether it was accidental, suicide or if some sort of foul play was involved).

David Carradine first drew my attention, as he did from many others, on the cult early to mid 1970s show Kung Fu. His character Caine was a martial arts loving, philosophizing loner who dished out his special brand of justice. I loved this show when I'd see it in repeats in the late 1970s and early 1980s. I had a brief childhood interest in karate probably because of this show and Bruce Lee films.

From 1975 to 1980, Carradine was in three genre pictures I loved. I don't want to brag but I'm lucky I saw the ultimate drive-in movie Death Race 2000 at a drive-in. I was six years old! I should not have been watching Death Race 2000--thanks Dad--but it made quite an impression as any film should that is about a cross country race where you get points for running over and killing people. One year later he was in another film I loved--Cannonball!--and in 1980 he was in one of my favorite westerns of all time--The Long Riders. It doesn't get any better than The Long Riders for westerns of the past thirty years.

After The Long Riders Carradine drifted into the low budget abyss of VHS/DVD until he surfaced in the Kill Bill films in 2003. Seeing him back on screen after so many invisible years was one of the best things about that film. Kill Bill was directed by Quentin Tarantino and other prominent directors to cast Carradine were Martin Scorsese, Ingmar Bergman, Hal Ashby and Walter Hill.

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