"I take orders from the Octoboss."

David Carradine

deathrace2000Nothing too fancy, but just wanted to take a minute to pay some respects to poor David Carradine. Like many people I was saddened by his passing, and by the knowledge that for now on whenever you mention the poor guy some god damn prick will get to make a smarmy quip about the apparent circumstances of his death. Can’t defeat his kung fu but you can defeat him with your powers of ironic distance and obvious jokes. Congratulations, dick.

To tell you the truth I used to kind of resent Carradine as the white guy who got to star in two Bruce Lee creations, the show KUNG FU and the movie CIRCLE OF IRON. Well, the truth is it wasn’t really his fault, I don’t really blame him for taking the job on KUNG FU and CIRCLE OF IRON was after Bruce’s death anyway. Plus, he did a better job replacing Bruce Lee than the other guy did replacing James Coburn. He’s really good in both roles, actually. (for a white guy.)

Come to think of it it’s kind of weird, Carradine is so associated with martial arts, but he didn’t practice them until he did that show, so he could also be in all those westerns and shit without somebody making him do karate. He was foremost an actor but also could teach a tai chi workout if he wanted to. My favorite Carradine movie was always DEATH RACE 2000 (pictured above), where he played the famous death race driver Frankenstein. It’s the satire and the crazy cars and everything that I like in that movie, but it’s hard to imagine Frankenstein without that voice and that lanky frame. He was a super hero.

In the last few years of his life he had an avalanche of work, which seems to be the pattern now for some of these old b-movie guys who have their icon status reignited by a Tarantino role or a Rob Zombie movie, then they start doing the autograph circuit again and signing up for ten shitty movies a month. But it’s cool because KILL BILL was a truly great role for him. I remember seeing volume 2 the first time and after rooting for his death all through volume 1, I got to that scene where he’s making the sandwich with his daughter and I thought, “wait a minute, you’re gonna kill this guy?I like this guy!” That’s all Carradine.

I watched part of that today and, while his speech about B.B. killing the fish has some extra creepy resonance now, the movie is a pretty good send-off. He was known to be brash and opinionated – for example he dissed the great Yuen Woo Ping’s choreography, even though the fights in those movies are fucking spectacular! – but that was part of his charm. In the movie, Bill is an asshole but you love him and you’re sorry to see him go. At least he gets to see his fate coming and gets to choose his final moments before he takes those five steps that cause his heart to explode. It seems Carradine didn’t have that luxury, the poor bastard.

Oh well, 72 and still full of surprises I guess. And he left behind quite a legacy. They won’t have to replace him with lookalikes to fulfill the demand like they did after Bruce Lee’s misadventure. Sorry to see him go, though.

This entry was posted on Friday, June 5th, 2009 at 1:37 am and is filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

20 Responses to “David Carradine”

  1. caruso_stalker217

    June 5th, 2009 at 1:54 am

    The sandwich scene is one of my favorites from KILL BILL. I could watch a full-length feature about David Carradine making sandwiches.

  2. Patrick Newman

    June 5th, 2009 at 2:40 am

    So unfortunate. My introduction to David Carradine was through Tarantino and Kill Bill, but now that the talented man has passed, I’ll have to finally check out his Kung Fu series and Lone Wolf McQuade. Bill was such an iconic character with a wicked smile, full of contradictions – brutal but loving, rude but charming, honest but deceptive. You rarely saw Bill raise a hand to anybody, but you were sure that if he did, he’d knock their head off. Carradine’s death saddens me, but I’m reassured by the fact that the pile of great work he left behind will be celebrated for years to come.

  3. Yeah, I remember walking out of Kill Bill 2, kinda disappointed about the movie, but still high from Carradine’s brillant performance! It almost made my head explode: There was this long, idiotic and totally out of place monologue about Superman’s view on the human race, but it would have made the perfect Oscar clip. (And I still wonder what made the Oscar jury not even nominate him. I mean, already then I knew that they were corrupt and irrelevant, but it was still a disappointment.)
    A few minutes ago, I read that the police is not 100% sure on the suicide/sex accident theory and even suspects that he got murdered. As weird as it sounds, but I hope it was murder. He seemed like a cool guy and it would be a shame if his death now would forever be a punchline.

  4. One_guy_from_Andromeda

    June 5th, 2009 at 3:35 am

    What’s there left to say? Farewell, sweet Caine!

  5. RIP Grasshopper. I hope you died doing whatever the fuck you felt like doing at the time. fuck everyone else. And i hope some cocksucker didnt kill you man ….. that would not be cool …that would require some Kill the fucker who killed Bill style vengeance. Cheers!

  6. Yesterday was a sad, sad day to be a fan of the badass cinema.
    Did you read Michael Madsen’s eulogy poem, Vern? I think you’ll appreciate it if you haven’t…


  7. My introduction to David Carradine was Death Race 2000. I’m a big fan of car combat movies , especially futuristic car combat movies.There was a time , when I didn’t know other movies like Knightriders , when I was constantly watching Death Race 2000 and Mad Max movies.I always wanted to see a movie like “Humungus vs Frankenstein”. The characters of Frankenstein and Lord Humungus , for me , are like a tag-team of vehicular combat greatness , forever burned in my memory.RIP Frankenstein , you will be missed.

  8. Cool guy. A guy so cool in fact that it seemed completely plausible that he’d be banging Uma even though he’s almost twice her age. RIP.

  9. Man, where do you start with his credits? Kung Fu on TV when I was a kid, sure, but The Long Riders? One of the best westerns ever. Death Race 2000? One of the best Corman pics as well as one of the best post-apocalyptic lethal sports movies ever. Q The Winged Serpent? One of the best monster pics around, as well as a great Larry Cohen flick. Whether it was big budget or small, theatrical or DTV (I remember seeing him in Martial Law opposite Chad McQueen, fer crissakes!), he was always a riveting screen presence, a solid character actor, a man’s man and a badass. Thoughts with his family and friends – we’ll miss him in our films, but they’ll miss him in their lives, I’m sure.

  10. Patrick Stephenson

    June 5th, 2009 at 10:54 am

    I love the preemptive bashing of the dick in this eulogy. What if the dick decides to sit this one out? Unfair, Vern.

  11. First thing I saw him in was as the villain in BIRD ON A WIRE. That wasn’t so great, even if he did meet death by tiger. Then in that KUNG FU: THE LEGEND CONTINUES on TV, which I don’t remember as being so hot either. But I liked Carradine in it and started looking back over other stuff he’d done, like DEATH RACE and THE LONG RIDERS. He was an odd sort, but a good ‘un – heard all sorts of funny stories about him turning up for the KILL BILL 2 premiere in Dublin…

  12. Last time I saw David I asked him how’s it hanging. I didn’t know he’d take it so literally

  13. Patrick – Trust me, the dick is not sitting this one out. I had to vent about that after hearing it throughout the day and after looking at the talkbacks on Ain’t It Cool. I have always been able to keep my head above water in those things but that was one of the rare times when I thought maybe it was time to not ever read Ain’t It Cool talkbacks again. (But TELF is right, IMDb message boards make talkbacks look like the MacNeil/Lehrer Hour. All I can figure is that it’s literally ten year olds writing most of the posts there. And I would actually take the talkback ass-shit-and-semen fixation over the IMDb “*bleep*”.)

  14. The talkbackers were equally as horrid when Marilyn Chambers died a while back.

  15. Man. After reading your comment, Vern, had to go over to AICN and see what all the talkback was. . .Jesus Christ. I don’t usually look at those – for the very reason that they make my blood pressure rise dangerously – but what the fuck, man. Sure, I have opinions. And I’ve been known to talk shit about people I don’t like or respect. But this was a man who made some great movies and entertained many of us, for a long time. Where is the respect? Not even just for a talented entertainer, but respect for a man and a father? It blows my goddamn mind, some of those things. Like yourself, I momentarily considered not reading the TBs again. But, I’m sure I will, about some subject I find interesting (maybe one of your reviews), and hopefully no one makes me want to flip the fuck out. I don’t know, man. I’m glad you’re running a joint where everybody’s pretty much cool here. It makes a big difference. RIP David Carradine –

  16. I actually refused to read any of the eulogies on AICN because I knew I wouldn’t be able to resist checking out the TBs and I didn’t want to expose myself to the monstrous insensitivity of those ungrateful subhumanoids.

    I was pretty bummed when I heard that it was supposed to be suicide, but I didn’t buy it. Carradine just seemed to love life too much to ever quit on it like that. My gut said autoerotic asphyxiation, and six hours later, the authorities caught up to me. I don’t know why, but that made me feel a little better. Dying in the middle of a sleazy sex game in a Bangkok hotel is way better than killing yourself in the closet of a Bangkok hotel. It’s not exactly a blaze of glory, but I guess it’ll have to do.

    Also: Q is one of the top five B-movies ever made, far as I’m concerned, as is Death Race. The man was a legend. This weekend, I’m going to say goodbye by watching an old hillbilly car-chase picture of his called Thunder & Lightning that I’ve been putting off for too long.

  17. I avoided all the TBs on AICN for the same reason as everyone else. I knew I’d want to strangle all the fuckers. I even saw a comment today bashing on Carradine in a TB for an article that had nothing at all to do with him or his death. I’ve got better things to do than get mad over wankers who don’t even know anything about the guy they’re mocking.

    As for David Carradine, I had a big crush on him in KUNG FU, probably one of my first give my age at the time. I even enjoyed KUNG FU: THE LEGEND CONTINUES for the camp factor. I’ll have to check out more of his movies; I’m behind on just about everything but KILL BILL and DEATHRACE.

  18. I’m really not sure what I can add to the proceedings with so many thoughtful eulogies above but I’ll do my best.

    He somehow managed to be the ‘white replacement’ to Bruce Lee in two projects and still manage to be liked by the martial arts movie fans. That takes a special kind of talent and charisma that I don’t think many have.

    My biggest nostalgic memories of the man was watching the reruns of Kung Fu and his sequel series Kung Fu The Legend Continues. I later on saw Death Race 2000, Americana, & Q and so on.

    Like everyone else here I absolutely adored his role in Kill Bill vol. 2 and was one of those times where sure he was doing the same thing he’s been doing for years but under A-list direction (and him actually being in a role he gave a damn about) took his persona and injected new life and energy into it.

    He was the butt of a lot jokes that seem to accompany all ‘B-move character actors’ but I feel if anything the fact that he had a steady carer (whether B-movies or no) was a testament of his screen charisma and the impact that has made upon culture as a whole.

    You will be very much missed Mr. Carradine.

  19. Yeah, that is the thing about the internet. If nothing is sacred and everything is fair game, well…nothing is sacred and everything is fair game. You just have to know where and when you belong. For example, I stumbled on to the comments on freerepublic.com for the abortion doctor that got murdered. I was absolutely repulsed by what I read. Clearly, I did not belong there. And I have read some things about the Air France incident that were just a little less than human as well. But…free speech is a tricky thing. So FAR, things have been going pretty smoothly here since the whole comment system was brought on board. Try not to screw it up.

    As for the rumors that Mr Carradine’s death may have been related to a kinky sexual thing that got out of hand, I guess that is the way to go. And at 72 years old the man is still doing it freaky style. That gives me hope. I suppose we should not speculate until the facts of the case come out. And even then, let us all let the man rest.

  20. Off-topic, but I thought the DEATH RACE remake was the dumb little brother of RUNNING MAN, which wasn’t exactly a rocket scientist in the first place.

    The original DEATH RACE though was effectively a cartoon, but a very good violent actioneer cartoon that had fun with its premise. Plus, I dug the shit out of the mere concept of David Carradine being this great hero/government propaganda tool, a target of terrorist rebels, and yet he himself plans to win this race so he could shake the President dictator’s hand with his Grenade Hand (!!!) and blow him up real good.

    And afterwards, be elected President and abolish those games, but not before running over his last victim, that annoying announcer/radio DJ who was in several of those Roger Corman productions of that epoch. Fucking Gold.

    As for the unfortunate Carradine passing….I think the current word is that he was murdered by a prostitute.

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