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Wardrobes & Ensembles

Kwai Change Caine Outfit - On the western adventure KUNG FU/ABC/1972-75 David Carradine played Kwai Chang Caine, a Shaolin priest who wandered the Old West in search of his brother. In the earlier episodes Caine's wardrobe consisted of a hat, jacket, pants a shoulder bag, a bed roll, a pair of shoes (often carried over his shoulders) and a bamboo flute.

Throughout the life of the program, a series of wardrobe changes occurred.

  • To commemorate the death of martial artist Bruce Lee, Carradine changed the color of his shirt from brown (muddy maroon) to saffron.
  • When a real Shaolin master was hired as technical advisor on the program (Kam Yuen), Carradine arranged to lose his trademark hat.
  • And later in the series, when Caine's clothes were damaged from an avalanche, a new Kung Fu outfit (a black silk pantsuit and jacket with a black belt, worn over a white shirt) obtained from a fellow Shaolin priest, replaced his tattered and torn clothing. The appearance of the black kung fu outfit coincided with David Carradine formally starting kung-fu training.

Another part of Caine's ensemble was the shoulder bag that Caine always carried with him (like Felix the cat's bag of tricks with a remedy for any circumstance).

It once belonged to Master Po, a blind monk who died at the hands of the Imperial Chinese Nephew. The bag was given to Caine as Po was dying. His last words to Caine (after Caine avenged Po's attack by killing the Royal Nephew) "If I had a son, all I could give him is contained in this pouch. Please take it...There will be a price on your head...You must leave the country."

And so, with few things to his name, Caine left China and began to his odyssey in the new land of America taking care to avoid those who would kill him for the bounty on his head ($10,000: Alive or $5,000: Dead).

Another fashion statement on the program were the brilliant orange robes worn by the Shaolin monks. The significance of the orange color was explained by Kam Yuen, one of the show's technical advisors: "Orange is the color of the sun. Every time the sun comes up, it's another day-a new beginning, a rebirth, enlightenment." (The Kung Fu Book of Caine by Herbie J. Pilato p. 51)


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