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UPDATE-David Carradine, a life beyond “Kung Fu”


Actor David Carradine, who police said on Thursday was found hanged in his Bangkok hotel room, is best known for playing Shaolin martial arts master Caine in the 1970s televisiodavid-carradinen series  “Kung Fu,” but he had shining moments in a number of more artistically challenging projects, such as the 1976 movie  “Bound for Glory” that saw him play folk legend Woody Guthrie and as an expatriate American watching Germany go fascist in the 1977 film  “The Serpent’s Egg”.

Reviewing “Bound for Glory,” film critic Roger Ebert of newspaper the Chicago Sun-Times wrote, “David Carradine’s performance as Guthrie finds just the right balance between his pride and innate simplicity.”

Film website IMDB says Carradine was the only actor ever to have appeared in films directed by Martin Scorsese, Ingmar Bergman and Quentin Tarantino, a trio of acclaimed directors with very different perspectives. Carradine played a drunk in Scorsese’s 1973 “Mean Streets,” Bergman directed him in “The Serpent’s Egg” and he was the title character in Tarantino’s 2003 movie “Kill Bill: Vol. 1″ and the 2004 follow-up “Kill Bill: Vol. 2.” 

david-carradine-quentin-tarantino1But after his 1970s rise to fame, Carradine faded from view, appearing in a number of low-budget productions but always staying on the screen. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly magazine in 2004, he described himself as a “renegade” in the movie industry who had suffered from a bad reputation. Tarantino put Carradine in the spotlight again, first with a flattering mention in his 1994 movie “Pulp Fiction,” when Samuel L. Jackson’s character talked about planning to “walk the earth … like Caine in ‘Kung Fu.’” Then came the roles in Tarantino’s “Kill Bill” movies.