The CW has ordered a pilot for their upcoming Kung Fu TV reboot and after securing their lead actress for the series last week, the network have found the director for the inaugural episode. Variety reports that director Hanelle Culpepper has signed on to step behind the camera for the pilot. This marks the latest high profile TV work for Culpepper, who recently directed the first three episodes of Star Trek: Picard on CBS All Access. Culpepper's other television directing credits include Star Trek: Discovery, Mayans M.C., Gotham, Lucifer, Criminal Minds, and a lot of work on The CW including Supergirl, The Flash, 90210, and The Originals.
“I am very excited to join the fantastic team of Christina Kim, Martin Gero, Berlanti, and Warner Bros. to bring ‘Kung Fu’ to a new generation,” Culpepper said in a statement. “An authentic and honest portrayal of a Chinese American family is rare in mainstream media so I am honored to be able to introduce the Shen family and shoot some thrilling action sequences as well. I think many people, myself included, can relate to our heroine’s journey of self-discovery and finding her purpose.”
Olivia Liang will lead the series as Nicky Chen, having previously starred in a variety of drama / Young Adult titles including Grey's Anatomy, Dating After College, and Legacies. In addition to Liang, Kung Fu has also tapped Tzi Ma and Kheng Hua Tan to play the parents of Liang's character, Nicky Chen - as well as Jon Prasida, Shannon Dang, and Eddie Liu. Liang has landed this critical lead role just after she snagged a recurring role in The CW's Vampire Diaries spinoff Legacies.
Based on the original series created by Ed Spielman, the new series is written by Christina M. Kim and is described as follows: "In the new Kung Fu, a quarter-life crisis causes a young Chinese-American woman, Nicky Chen (Liang), to drop out of college and go on a life-changing journey to an isolated monastery in China. But when she returns to find her hometown overrun with crime and corruption, she uses her martial arts skills and Shaolin values to protect her community and bring criminals to justice — all while searching for the assassin who killed her Shaolin mentor and is now targeting her."
The original Kung Fu TV series starred David Carradine as Kwai Chang Caine, the white/Chinese orphan who is taken in and trained at a Shaolin Temple. Caine eventually became a Shaolin priest and martial arts master. After his master was murdered by the Emperor's nephew, Caine avenged his master and earned a price on his head as a result. Caine then flees to America to reunite with his American family, and finds his Shaolin values constantly force him to take a noble stand and fight for those who cannot fight for themselves.
(Cover photo by Michael Gibson/CBS ©2018 CBS Interactive, Inc)
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