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Martial Arts TV

Although the first TV program to feature a martial arts storyline was a Chinese kung fu soap opera seen on ATV (Asia Television) in Hong Kong in the late 1950s, the first time martial arts were featured on American television was in an early episode of ABC’s series The Detectives (1959-1961). The martial art was karate.

Television in Hong Kong and Taiwan was soon flooded with martial arts dramas that ran for months. American television came around much slower. However, some groundbreaking American programs infused their action with martial arts, such as The Wild Wild West (1965), The Green Hornet (1966) and Kung Fu (1972). These shows are still considered by many critics to be among the best American-made martial arts TV shows ever.

With the advent of pay-per-view, cable and TV movie channels and the influence of Hong Kong action on Hollywood films like The Matrix (1999), martial arts programming is now a normal part of the American TV landscape.

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