Kung Fu, the latest play from David Henry Hwang, scores big points on fluid action and amazingly choreographed martial arts, but the script still leaves a viewer wanting for more.
The play follows Bruce Lee (Cole Horibe) in his early days as a childhood martial arts star in Hong Kong through his struggles in trying to make it in the mainstream American media. Along the way, we meet the most seminal figures in his life, wife Linda (Phoebe Strole), father Hoi-Chuen (Francis Jue), and son Brandon (Bradley Fong).
More so than an average play, there needs to be an aura of credibility for the main character’s martial arts ability, and Horibe certainly possesses it. His martial arts skill, along with all of the other cast members, is at a high level, and the scenes are choreographed so well, you’d think that you were watching an old Hong Kong action film. There are plenty of action scenes throughout the play and all of them are thoroughly enjoyable. These scenes, in and of themselves, make the production a worthwhile show.
But the script has some serious issues. To start, there is an utter lack of chemistry between Linda and Bruce. With the way the play is written, I’m not actually sure what she sees in him. On their first date, Bruce spends all of his time talking about his favorite topic: Himself. And yet, she completely falls for him, which comes off more as puzzling and forced. While we all know that they ended up together, the play doesn’t really sell the idea of why, instead preferring to fast forward to their abrupt marriage. That dooms their storyline from the start.