Kung Fu Kids: The last kick

Gian Carlo Vizcarra - The Philippine Star

It usually takes Joseph Andre “Chubbs” Garcia about 34 takes to perfect one action sequence on the ABS-CBN kid series Kung Fu Kids (KFK).

“It is not a question of Chubbs’ ability as a kid actor, because he is very good, convincing,” quickly clarifies KFK Business Unit head Enrico Santos. “The show just requires much more from everyone — the production to the creative teams to the cast.”

For Enrico, producing KFK, which bids televiewers goodbye tonight, is seven times harder than Super Inggo, KFK’s predecessor.

“KFK requires actors to acquire Kung Fu skills,” says Enrico. “All moves should show fidelity to legitimate Kung Fu stunts.”

To ensure that KFK’s action sequences remain faithful to the rudiments of Kung Fu, the show had to fly in a professional Kung Fu instructor and two Chinese kid stuntmen from Hong Kong.

KFK, which features Jairus “Lembot” Aquino, Paul “Uragon” Salas, Eliza “Sarah” Pineda, Jane “Moira” Oineza, Kristopher “Benjo” Dangculos and Joshua “Jazz” Dionisio, is also the first local TV show to utilize the 16-point motion capture technology. Throughout its 13-week run, the series exhibited three-dimensional, two-dimensional and flash animation.

“It’s a writing challenge,” exclaims Enrico. “Imagine, unlike other shows which have one to four lead stars, KFK has seven.”

The challenge, Enrico says, lies in how the creative team will give all lead characters good stories.

Asked if Super Inggo’s success put added pressure on his team, he admits there was no attempt to surpass the achievements of Makisig Morales’ series, because its impact on viewers is immensely great. Super Inggo, after all, is the first Pinoy kid superhero in the local boob tube.

Instead of being intimidated, members of the network’s Creative Development Group, inspired by the warm reception Super Inggo enjoyed, pitched the idea of KFK in early 2007.

KFK, which took six months for its concept to develop, gives a pop and kiddie flavor to Pan-Asian mythology figures.

“We made KFK with an updated feel. It lives in the ‘now,’” says Enrico. “Just like Playstation and Xbox, the kids’ skills ‘level up’ as they take on more adventures. They improve by learning both various fighting techniques and value of teamwork.”

The road KFK has taken may be painstakingly hard, but for the team, it was worth it because the series served as a testament of the Kapamilya network’s efforts to provide kids their own show.

KFK may not boast of major stars, but its success highlights Filipinos’ preference for a good Kapamilya story and adventure.

“We are overwhelmed with the feedback we’re getting from the public,” says production manager Raymund Dizon. “Whenever we go around, we see kids sporting KFK hairstyles. We’re happy we have provided fans an opportunity to partake in this unique Kapamilya experience.”

KFK has proven that Jairus can stand along Primetime Bida leading men like Piolo Pascual, Jake Cuenca, Cesar Montano, among others.

“I’m thankful to have gotten this opportunity from ABS-CBN,” says Jairus. “We’re all happy on the set and we’ll miss each other.”

Jairus will star in an upcoming movie with Makisig for Star Cinema.

KFK also paved the way for stars like Wowie de Guzman, Arlene Muhlach, Matteo Guidicelli, Erich Gonzales, Gerard Pizarras, Asia Agcaoili, Jodi Santamaria and Mariel Rodriguez to show their acting skills.

For his performance as  Kung Fu master Kung Krung, Sid Lucero got the nod of ABS-CBN management to topbill another drama series.

“Direk Malu Sevilla is the show’s secret weapon,” admits Enrico. “From being the director of Tabing Ilog and Ang TV, she has mastered the art and led the production of groundbreaking shows like Super Inggo and KFK.”

Asked about the next step his team will take as KFK closes, Enrico replies, “It has been both exciting and tough. I think we all deserve a ‘short break’ before we take on a bigger TV challenge.”

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