Bill Paxton – a favorite of James Cameron, a tornado chaser, an Apollo astronaut, a Mormon wife-collector, and a friend of Joe Young. And also, it’s sometimes forgotten, occasional director. The veteran character actor made his feature film directing debut a decade ago with the decent thriller “Frailty,” and followed it up a few years later with the well-received Disney golf drama “The Greatest Game Ever Played,” a sort of “Legend of Bagger Vance” without the questionable racial elements. With Paxton starring over the past few years in hit HBO drama “Big Love,” his directorial ambitions have been on ice, but with the show wrapping up earlier this year, it looks like he’s set to step behind the camera again.
Deadline report that Paxton is in negotiations to direct “Kung Fu,” a Legendary Pictures adaptation of the 1970s TV series beloved by Quentin Tarantino, martial arts fans, and stoners of a similar age. The show starred the late David Carradine as Caine, a half-American, half-Chinese orphan, trained as a martial arts master in a Shaolin monastery in the 19th century, who flees to the U.S. after killing the emperor’s nephew, and travels the West, right wrongs and sees that justice is done.
The show ran for three seasons, before being revived by 1986’s “Kung Fu: The Movie,” which saw Caine team up with his son, played by a pre-“The Crow” Brandon Lee, who returned in a sequel, before Carradine returned as Caine’s grand-son in TV reboot “Kung Fu: The Legend Continues,” which ran for four seasons from 1993. Unsurprisingly, a film version has been in the works for a while over at Legendary. The Hughes Brothers were attached to direct for a while, and most recently Max Makowski, who directed the Singapore-set thriller “One Last Chance,” came close to filming at the start of 2008.
Back then, they were working from a script from original series writers Howard Friedlander and Ed Spielman, rewritten by Cory Goodman (“Priest“), but it appears Paxton has an entirely new draft to work from, with Deadline crediting the script to “Black Swan” co-writer John McLaughlin. The “Aliens” star, who’ll next be seen in Steven Soderbergh‘s “Haywire,” isn’t the most obvious choice to direct — it’s by far his biggest project to date. But given his surfer dude persona, it sort of makes sense that he’d be a fan of the series, and we’d rather him than some empty music video helmer type. The film is intended to shoot next summer, at least partly in China, so this should come out of the temple sometime in 2013.