Fans of martial arts movies can rejoice: Cinemax has picked up Warrior, a straight-to-series drama inspired by an idea from Bruce Lee himself. With a first season consisting of 10 episodes, the show is created and will be produced by Banshee co-creator Jonathan Tropper. The pilot will be executive produced by Justin Lin, the director of four Fast and the Furious films and Star Trek Beyond.
Warrior is a 19th century crime drama set in San Francisco's Chinatown during the Tong Wars. The show will follow the story of Ah Sam, a martial arts prodigy and Chinese immigrant who becomes a hatchet man for one of Chinatown's most powerful crime families.
The Tong Wars refers to a violent period in American-Chinese history, where organized crime families called "tongs" in the Chinatown area of San Francisco feuded with one another over the control of opium, prostitution, and gambling. Their constant fighting on the streets resulted in the loss of countless lives.
Lee's daughter, Shannon Lee, is serving as an executive producer and has shared her father's vision with the show's creators. Bruce Lee's ideas were preserved in the form of handwritten notes that were discovered years after his death. Though many fans may only identify Lee as a martial arts icon, the actor also had a strong interest in writing. The show's themes will dive deep into Bruce Lee's unique life philosophies.
The series has actually been in the works for years now. In 2013, Shannon Lee, the head of Bruce Lee Enterprises, partnered with Justin Lin to bring Bruce Lee's ideas to life on the small screen. In 2015, the show made its way to Cinemax when Tropper signed on as writer and executive producer.
In speaking about the series, Tropper said:
"As a show that proudly bears the imprimatur of Bruce Lee, it’s our intention to deliver not only explosive martial arts action – which we will – but also a powerful and complex immigration drama that is as relevant today as it was in the 1870s."
Last December, HBO announced that the goal for its sister channel was to produce as many as four shows a year that followed their formula of cost-effective, high-octane, fun, and pulpy entertainment. A release from the network promises Warrior will combine great storytelling with the ideas of Bruce Lee to follow the tradition set by other Cinemax series such as Strike Back and the aforementioned Banshee.
Warrior is expected to film in Cape Town, South Africa sometime this fall. No air date has been set.