A dark day for America

By Zack Huffman


June 3rd was a sad day for America, or at least that small minority of America that knows who David Carradine was, let alone would consider themselves a fan of his work.

Carradine, who is best known for his portrayal of Kwai Chang Caine in the cult hit 1970s television show Kung Fu, as well as his portrayal of Bill in Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill, was a phenomenal performer that often received far less acclaim than he deserved for his many contributions to American pop culture.

Now, I'm sure there are a few of you among my three of four dedicated column readers that are wondering "What does David Carradine have to do with sports?"

In fact that is exactly what my boss, Doug Gorman asked me when I presented him with my idea for a column.

I'm not going to try to argue that his sports tie was martial arts, which he did not actually know, as made painfully obvious in the television series he made famous.

What I will do is write about what Carradine meant for me.

I was too young to watch the original Kung Fu series, and definitely too indifferent to watch Kung Fu: The Legend Continues when it aired in the mid 1990s.

I was and still am a huge fan of the 1975 Roger Corman classic Death Race 2000 which starred Carradine.

For those of you who have never been privileged enough to see the film, Death Race 2000 is about a cross country race where anything goes, and competitors can earn extra points for running over people based on how slow they move.

Slow-moving infants and the elderly are worth the most amount of points.

The movie, which also features a young Sylvester Stallone as "Machine Gun" Joe Viterbo the lead antagonist, is about what has become the national sport in the year 2000.

See? That totally qualifies as a sports connection.

I'll admit that link is tenuous at best, but then it is my name that's listed at the top of this column, so I'm going with it.

Carradine was almost the antithesis of his half-brother Robert Carradine, who best known as Louis Skolnick in the classic anti-jock masterpiece Revenge of the Nerds.

David Carradine was all that is man, frequently beating up bad guys while the younger Robert Carradine was resorting to liquid heat in jack straps and others forms of tomfoolery.

In any case, I feel like it's hard to not give due respect to a man who could probably make someone's heart explode with kung fu. OK, so that may have only been on screen, but that's good enough for me.

I think it is worth mentioning that almost every kung fu movie cliche from the blind master to the use of the term "grasshopper" comes from Carradine's television series.

Basically sports fans and non-sports fans alike should be able to agree that Carradine was a man who will most certainly be missed, if the void he left behind only exists in the "cult classic" section of the independent movie rental place that's down the street from where I live in Atlanta.