The Tao of Kwai Chang Caine

The Shaolin priest Kwai Chang Caine is the protagonist of the legendary tv-show Kung Fu from 1972. In every episode, the half Chinese and half American martial arts expert (played by David Carradine) experiences an adventure in the old West. To succeed in helping others and resolving situations, he uses the ancient wisdom he has learned in the Shaolin Monastery in China where he has spent his childhood and early adult years. Below are fifteen aphorisms from the first season that I really like. Many are adapted from or derived directly from the Tao Te Ching, a book of ancient Taoist philosophy attributed to the sage Lao Tzu.

“If one words are no better than silence… one should keep silent.”
— Caine

“All creatures, the low and the high, are one with nature. If we have the wisdom to learn they may teach us their virtues. Between the fragile beauty of the praying mantis and the fire and passion of the winged dragon, there is no discord. Between the supple silence of the snake and the eagles claw there is only harmony as no two elements of nature are in conflict. So when we perceive the ways of nature, we remove conflicts within ourselves and discover a harmony of body and mind in accord with the flow of the universe.”
— Master Kan

“Life sustains life. And all living creatures need nourishment. Yet, with wisdom, the body learns to sustain in ways that all may live.”
— Master Kan

“I do not eat meat. I do not believe in killing to eat.”
— Caine

“Weakness prevails over strength. Gentleness conquers. Become the calm and restful breeze that tames the violent sea.”
— Master Kan

“In one lifetime, a man knows many pleasures: a mother’s smile in waking hours, a young woman’s searing touch and the laughter of grandchildren in the twilight years. To deny these in ourselves is to deny that which makes us one with nature. Acknowledge them and satisfaction will follow. To suppress a truth is to give it force beyond endurance.”
— Master Kan

“Before we wake, we cannot know that what we dream does not exist. Before we die, we cannot know that death is not the greatest joy.”
— Caine

“If a man dwells on the past, then he robs the present. But if a man ignores the past, he may rob the future. The seeds of our destiny are nurtured by the roots of our past.”
— Master Po

“It does not end. The journey goes on, from one time to another. Nothing dies that was ever something.”
— Caine

“Young Caine, when I was a boy I fell into a hole in the ground and I was broken and could not climb out. I might have died there, but a stranger came along and saved me. He said it was his obligation that for help he had once received he must in return help ten others. So that good deeds would spread out like the ripples from the pebble in a pond. I was one of his ten. And you become one of mine. And now I pass this obligation on to you.”
— Master Po

“Peace lies not in the world, but in the man who walks the path.”
— Master Po

“I have three treasures which I hold and keep. The first is mercy, for from mercy comes courage. The second is frugality, from which comes generosity to others. The third is humility, for from it comes leadership. Hold and keep them not in memory, but in your deeds.”
— Master Po

“We are one. Yet we are not the same. Ten million living things have as many different worlds.”
— Master Kan

“See the way of life as a stream. A man floats, and his way is smooth. The same man turning to fight upstream exhausts himself. To be one with the universe, each must find his true path, and follow it.”
— Master Po

“Between father and son there is a bridge which neither time nor death can shatter. Each stands at one end needing to cross and meet. The bridge of which I speak is love.”
— Master Po

Bullets Over Hollywood

Bullets Over Hollywood (2005, USA)

Director: Elaina Archer
Written by: John McCarty (book), Elaina Archer, Tom Marksbury
Features: Paul Sorvino (narrator), Leonard Maltin, Michael Madsen, Edward McDonald, ao.

Running Time: 70 mins.

This Hugh Hefner produced documentary shows the fascination of moviegoers with the mob. ‘Once in the racket, always in the racket’, Al Capone said who became the archetype of the gangster and role-model for some legendary movie characters like Caesar ‘Rico’ Bandello (Little Caesar) and Tony Camonte/Montana (Scarface) This also applies to Hollywood when it comes to making gangster films. Every time you think the realms of the genre have been fully explored, some new masterpiece comes along. After the time that Cagney, Robinson and Bogart dominated the screen, a new generation of filmmakers emerged in the seventies with Coppola, Scorsese and De Palma. Then at the brink of the new millennium, the Hollywood gangster legend continued on the small screen with The Sopranos.

Bullets Over Hollywood opens with the very first gangster film: The Musketeers Of Pig Alley, made in 1912. It then goes on to chronologically move through gangster film history right up until The Sopranos. The documentary combines film fragments, interviews and real gangster footage while Paul Sorvino (GoodFellas) provides the narrative. It is an interesting viewing for enthusiasts of the genre, but misses real insight in the works that it covers. Some interesting facts are revealed such as the story that Howard Hawks was forced by Hollywood to add ‘the shame of the nation’ to his gangsterfilm Scarface, because they didn’t want to glorify gangsters. Also interesting is some behind-the-scene footage of gangster classics, but these fragments are unfortunately a little brief. Altogether this is worth a look. If only to hear Leonard Maltin rave about The Godfather and to re-experience some of the finest sequences in the history of this fascinating American phenomenon.

Rating:


The Musketeers Of Pig Alley (1912, D.W. Griffith)