The wait is almost over! A year and a half after we first discussed it on the AWMA Blog — and almost a half century after Bruce Lee first developed the idea — we are one very important step closer to finally seeing Warrior on our screens.
The TV series inspired by an original concept by the late, great martial arts visionary is set to premiere in the new year on Cinemax. The station held a very well-received special screening of the pilot episode for press and industry last week. They also released a trailer for the rest of us to enjoy earlier this week.
What is Warrior about?
Warrior is a new television series inspired by Bruce Lee that will be set in San Francisco’s Chinatown in 1878. It will follow Ah Sahm (played by Andrew Koji), a martial arts prodigy who immigrates to the U.S. from China and becomes involved in a world of plots and conspiracies involving the area’s most powerful crime organizations.
Who is involved in the making of Warrior?
Jonathan Topper, the mastermind behind Banshee, is working on this series as the creator and showrunner. Director Justin Lin, perhaps best known for his work on the Fast and Furious franchise, is also on board as an executive producer. Together, they’ve worked with fellow executive producer (and Bruce Lee’s daughter) Shannon Lee to help bring Lee’s original vision for a martial arts series starring a Chinese hero to television.
“I’ve always admired Bruce Lee for his trailblazing efforts opening doors for Asians in entertainment and beyond,” Lin told Variety in 2017. “So I was intrigued when Danielle told me about the urban legend of his never-produced idea for a TV show and suggested we bring it to life. Then, when Shannon shared with us her father’s writings – rich with Lee’s unique philosophies on life, and through a point of view rarely depicted on screen – Danielle and I knew that Perfect Storm had to make it.”
The show features an ensemble cast of international stars including Andrew Koji, Olivia Cheng, Dianne Doan, Joanna Vanderham, Jason Tobin, Hoon Lee, Tom Weston-Jones, and Rich Ting.
What is Bruce Lee’s influence on Warrior?
According to a recent report by The Los Angeles Times, Warrior is based on a concept that Bruce Lee pitched in the early 1970s. “[Lee] created a treatment which he then pitched to Warner Bros.,” Shannon Lee told the audience at last week’s screening. “And they said, ‘We’re really sorry, but we just don’t think that a Chinese man can be the lead of an American TV series. Audiences won’t go for it.’”
That idea, Lee confirmed, went on to inspire the TV series Kung Fu. But her father received neither the credit nor the lead. “Cut to  and ‘Kung Fu’ the series comes out starring David Carradine as a Chinese man. This was the role that my father was supposed to do.”
When Lin reached out to her about this rumored project, Shannon Lee was thrilled to have an opportunity to bring her father’s long lost idea to life — and to make a positive change in the industry. “And by the way, let’s have Asian people playing the Asian characters,” she told him.
Lee went on to tell the audience that Warrior was “literally a dream come true.”
When will we get to see Warrior?
Although Cinemax hasn’t announced an official release date for the series yet, we do know that we’ll see the first ten episode season of Warrior at some point in 2019.
And Shannon Lee promises that we’ll see even more of this universe unfold in the years to come. “I’m really excited for the arc of the entirety of the show,” she said at the screening. “Season 1 is just the beginning. We’ll hopefully get the opportunity to play the long game here and really get into some extremely interesting stuff, which we already have planned. Hopefully we’ll get to do that.”
We will keep you updated on all of the latest Warrior and Bruce Lee news as it happens!