People Tell Me I Look Like Han Solo.
Friday, June 5, 2009
  R.I.P. David Carradine, Shih Kien
So David Carradine died yesterday at 72. I was pretty bummed out by the news (and I’m not a guy who tends to get bummed out by celebrity deaths, generally speaking), as Carradine was one of my favourite things in one of my favourite movies ever, Kill Bill. It’s a testament to his on-screen charisma that he spends the entire first movie largely off camera but still manages to be an effective villain. (Also impressive is the fact that he’s so cool in it that I don’t even really think of him as the villain.) I dig the movie so much that I read Carradine’s book about his experiences making it, Kill Bill Diary. He writes in an easy, conversational style, and comes across as a pretty cool and laid-back dude. The original Kung Fu was before my time, and all we get in syndication up here in Canada is the crappy ‘90s revamp, Kung Fu: The Legend Continues, but as a fan of martial arts movies, his impact on the popularity of kung fu movies in North America really can’t be overstated. A lot of people forget he was a pretty damn fine actor too, and turned up in “real” movies like Ingmar Bergman’s The Serpent’s Egg and was the lead in Hal Ashby’s biopic of legendary folk singer Woody Guthrie, Bound for Glory. But to me he’ll always be Bill, and it sucks that he’s gone.

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It was a bad week for fans of martial arts flicks. The news came in today out of Hong Kong that veteran actor Shih Kien has died at the age of 96. He’s best known for playing the villainous Mr. Han in Bruce Lee’s seminal 1973 film, Enter the Dragon (the guy with the metal hand). Shih acted in some 350 movies starting in the 1940s, including playing villains in a long-running series of Hong Kong movies about Chinese folk hero Wong Fei-Hung, a character who was later played by Jackie Chan and Jet Li. I’ve only seen a handful of the movies he’s been in, but he’s one of the most iconic villains in kung fu movie history.

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