Asian Role: Kwai Chang Kaine
Non-Asian Performer: David Carradine
Release Date: 1972
Here’s another example of an actor who, like Yul Brynner, has largely been given a pass. David Carradine played Kwai Chang Kaine for two Kung Fu television series and two Kung Fu movies. And although there were grumblings that yet again, a white man was playing a role that could have gone to an Asian man, Carradine carried himself in a way that was dignified and flattering to Asians; he was not a broad, insulting stereotype.
Still, it’s agonizing to imagine what could have been. Bruce Lee, for example, was in the running for the role. Furthermore, in her memoirs, Bruce Lee's widow, Linda Lee Caldwell, claimed that Bruce had conceived of the idea himself, and it was stolen by Warner Bros. Ed Spielman, the creator of the series, vehemently denies this.