‘Warrior’ starts filming on 22 October

‘Warrior’ starts filming on 22 October

Joined: July 16th, 2003, 11:43 am

October 13th, 2017, 11:06 am #1

Warrior, Cinemax’s upcoming Tong Wars drama series from Fast & Furious‘ Justin Lin and Banshee co-creator Jonathan Tropper, has assembled an international cast, led by British actor Andrew Koji, and has tapped Assaf Bernstein (Netflix’s Fauda) to direct the pilot. The 10-episode series, inspired by the writings and work of martial arts icon Bruce Lee, is slated to begin production on Oct. 22 in Cape Town, South Africa.

Andrew Koji and Olivia Cheng


Warrior — the first homegrown tentpole series under Cinemax’s new programming direction emphasizing fun, often adrenalized shows — is a period crime drama set against the backdrop of the brutal Tong Wars in San Francisco’s Chinatown in the late 1800s.

The cast includes Andrew Koji as Ah Sahm, a martial arts prodigy who travels from China to San Francisco and ends up becoming a hatchet man for the most powerful tong in Chinatown; Olivia Cheng as Ah Toy, Chinatown’s most accomplished courtesan and madame; Jason Tobin as Young Jun, the hard-partying son of a powerful tong boss; Dianne Doan as Mai Ling, a beautiful and ruthless Chinese woman who, through sheer force of will, has achieved a position of power in one of the tongs; Kieran Bew as Officer “Big Bill” O’Hara, a hard-drinking Irish cop charged with forming a Chinatown squad; and Dean Jagger as Dan Leary, the unofficial godfather of the Irish community of San Francisco and leader of the Workingmen’s party.

Jason Tobin

Dianne Doan


Also cast are Joanna Vanderham as Penelope Blake, the aristocratic heir to a railroad fortune trapped in a loveless marriage to the mayor; Tom Weston-Jones as Richard Lee, a transplanted Southerner and rookie cop; Banshee and Outcast‘s Hoon Lee as Wang Chao, a wiley fixer and profiteer in Chinatown; Joe Taslim as Li Yong, a tong Lieutenant and kung fu master; Langley Kirkwood as Walter Buckley, a Civil War veteran and Deputy Mayor with his own political aspirations; Christian McKay as Mayor Samuel Blake, the Mayor of San Francisco; and Perry Yung as Father Jun, the leader of the most powerful tong in Chinatown.

Joanna Vanderham

Hoon Lee


“As Warrior comes together, I can’t help but feel the pride of correcting a wrong and helping bring Bruce Lee’s dream project to life,” Lin said. “We have assembled a cast of incredible actors from all over the world including our talented lead, Andrew Koji, an exciting discovery out of the UK. I’m also thrilled to be re-teaming with Joe Taslim and Jason Tobin.”

Taslim and Tobin previously co-starred in two of the Lin-directed Fast & Furious movies: Fast & Furious 6 (Taslim) and The Fast & Furious: Tokyo Drift (Tobin).

Tropper wrote the pilot script based on original material written by Bruce Lee. He is executive producing via his Tropper Ink Prods. alongside Lin and Danielle Woodrow of Perfect Storm Entertainment and Lee’s daughter, Shannon Lee via Bruce Lee Entertainment.

Kary Antholis, president, HBO Miniseries and Cinemax Programming, called Warrior “one of the most exciting pilots I’d read in a very long time. It is perfectly on brand with what Cinemax wants to do going forward — high-end action-packed drama with great characters. It is unlike anything you’ve seen on episodic television ever.” Asked to elaborate, Antholis said that “the combination of a fun martial-arts show, which leans into Asian characters that are developed with great depth is a very unique combination in my experience with the TV landscape.”

Added Lin, “The martial arts genre a lot of times has been relegated to B-level action. And that’s not something we wanted to do. Going off of Bruce Lee’s original material, we wanted to build something that is character-driven, that has important themes and that also takes place in a part of American history that rarely gets talked about. That to me makes it something you haven’t seen before.”

Jonathan Tropper

Justin Lin


While there haven’t been TV series about the infamous Chinese mob wars over the opium, prostitution, and gambling trades, there are now two in the works. Amazon recently gave a straight-to-series order to Tong Wars, from filmmaker Wong Kar-wai and writer Paul Attanasio, also set against the Tong Wars of 19th century San Francisco.

Warrior pre-dates Tong Wars — it was first set up at Cinemax for development in May 2015. I hear Tong Wars was taken to HBO/Cinemax, which declined to read the script as the Warrior pilot already had been written. The rival project was then quickly shopped and sold to Amazon. Warrior is far ahead, with filming starting next week. I also hear the two shows are quite different in tone, with Tong Wars more of a traditional premium TV drama, and Warrior more in the vein of Banshee, an entertaining genre show, which, like Bruce Lee’s movies, mixes martial arts and humor.

Warrior has an interesting backstory that sheds light on the “correcting wrong” comment Lin made earlier.

Lin recalled “growing up as an Asian American, and hearing the story behind Bruce Lee and the relationship to David Carradine’s Kung Fu.” For years, there had been rumblings that Lee had had a concept for a TV series — coincidentally (or not) called The Warrior, according to Lee’s widow Linda Lee Cadwell — that would’ve featured Lee as an Asian hero in the American West. The version of events that has been widely circulated (but never fully confirmed) is that the studios did not think viewers would embrace an Asian leading man, and Kung Fu was ultimately created with Carradine as the star.

It was Lin’s producing partner Woodrow who asked him whether the Lee TV series pitch was real or an urban legend. To get an answer, the two reached out to Lee’s daughter Shannon, who confirmed that an 8-page treatment by Lee existed and showed it to them. “That’s how this project came to life,” Lin said. He added that Shannon Lee has boxes and boxes containing writings by her late father.

When Lin, Woodrow and Lee pitched the idea for Warrior to HBO/Cinemax, “we talked about the aspirations of combining really well developed characters with an action-oriented show,” Antholis said. “We had the idea of bringing in Jonathan Tropper based on the work he did on Banshee not knowing that he is a black belt in karate and idolized Bruce Lee as a kid. He fit right in.”

Daniella Woodrow

Shannon Lee


How much of Lee’s original treatment made it into Warrior? “It’s our job to find the essence of what he was trying to say,” Lin said. “The character of Sahm, a lot of the stuff is based off what Bruce Lee wanted way back when he came up with the idea.”

Lin says that one of his “heartaches” was that his schedule did not allow him to direct the Warrior pilot episode. “It was very important to Kary, to Jonathan and me that we find a filmmaker, someone that comes and develops everything with character-first,” he said. “We are so fortunate to have Assaf Bernstein, a director who will capture the most intimate and textured performances amidst the action-packed backdrop of our series.” Bernstein also executive produces.

Lin, who will be on set for most of the pilot, called the sets for the show “phenomenal, some of the biggest sets I’ve been involved with.”

No premiere date for Warrior has been set, but it’s expected to launch in late 2018/early 2019.

Bernstein recently wrapped film Look Away, starring Jason Isaacs, Mira Sorvino and India Eisley. He is repped by WME, Primary Wave and Reder & Feig.

Assaf Bernstein


http://deadline.com/2017/10/warrior-cin ... 202185298/
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Joined: December 13th, 2012, 7:02 pm

October 13th, 2017, 2:23 pm #2

Hope Hollywood does Bruce Lee's original story some justice, and not mess it up like they did with Circle of Iron, and Game of Death.
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Joined: July 24th, 2015, 3:19 am

October 14th, 2017, 7:56 pm #3

Warrior, Cinemax’s upcoming Tong Wars drama series from Fast & Furious‘ Justin Lin and Banshee co-creator Jonathan Tropper, has assembled an international cast, led by British actor Andrew Koji, and has tapped Assaf Bernstein (Netflix’s Fauda) to direct the pilot. The 10-episode series, inspired by the writings and work of martial arts icon Bruce Lee, is slated to begin production on Oct. 22 in Cape Town, South Africa.

Andrew Koji and Olivia Cheng


Warrior — the first homegrown tentpole series under Cinemax’s new programming direction emphasizing fun, often adrenalized shows — is a period crime drama set against the backdrop of the brutal Tong Wars in San Francisco’s Chinatown in the late 1800s.

The cast includes Andrew Koji as Ah Sahm, a martial arts prodigy who travels from China to San Francisco and ends up becoming a hatchet man for the most powerful tong in Chinatown; Olivia Cheng as Ah Toy, Chinatown’s most accomplished courtesan and madame; Jason Tobin as Young Jun, the hard-partying son of a powerful tong boss; Dianne Doan as Mai Ling, a beautiful and ruthless Chinese woman who, through sheer force of will, has achieved a position of power in one of the tongs; Kieran Bew as Officer “Big Bill” O’Hara, a hard-drinking Irish cop charged with forming a Chinatown squad; and Dean Jagger as Dan Leary, the unofficial godfather of the Irish community of San Francisco and leader of the Workingmen’s party.

Jason Tobin

Dianne Doan


Also cast are Joanna Vanderham as Penelope Blake, the aristocratic heir to a railroad fortune trapped in a loveless marriage to the mayor; Tom Weston-Jones as Richard Lee, a transplanted Southerner and rookie cop; Banshee and Outcast‘s Hoon Lee as Wang Chao, a wiley fixer and profiteer in Chinatown; Joe Taslim as Li Yong, a tong Lieutenant and kung fu master; Langley Kirkwood as Walter Buckley, a Civil War veteran and Deputy Mayor with his own political aspirations; Christian McKay as Mayor Samuel Blake, the Mayor of San Francisco; and Perry Yung as Father Jun, the leader of the most powerful tong in Chinatown.

Joanna Vanderham

Hoon Lee


“As Warrior comes together, I can’t help but feel the pride of correcting a wrong and helping bring Bruce Lee’s dream project to life,” Lin said. “We have assembled a cast of incredible actors from all over the world including our talented lead, Andrew Koji, an exciting discovery out of the UK. I’m also thrilled to be re-teaming with Joe Taslim and Jason Tobin.”

Taslim and Tobin previously co-starred in two of the Lin-directed Fast & Furious movies: Fast & Furious 6 (Taslim) and The Fast & Furious: Tokyo Drift (Tobin).

Tropper wrote the pilot script based on original material written by Bruce Lee. He is executive producing via his Tropper Ink Prods. alongside Lin and Danielle Woodrow of Perfect Storm Entertainment and Lee’s daughter, Shannon Lee via Bruce Lee Entertainment.

Kary Antholis, president, HBO Miniseries and Cinemax Programming, called Warrior “one of the most exciting pilots I’d read in a very long time. It is perfectly on brand with what Cinemax wants to do going forward — high-end action-packed drama with great characters. It is unlike anything you’ve seen on episodic television ever.” Asked to elaborate, Antholis said that “the combination of a fun martial-arts show, which leans into Asian characters that are developed with great depth is a very unique combination in my experience with the TV landscape.”

Added Lin, “The martial arts genre a lot of times has been relegated to B-level action. And that’s not something we wanted to do. Going off of Bruce Lee’s original material, we wanted to build something that is character-driven, that has important themes and that also takes place in a part of American history that rarely gets talked about. That to me makes it something you haven’t seen before.”

Jonathan Tropper

Justin Lin


While there haven’t been TV series about the infamous Chinese mob wars over the opium, prostitution, and gambling trades, there are now two in the works. Amazon recently gave a straight-to-series order to Tong Wars, from filmmaker Wong Kar-wai and writer Paul Attanasio, also set against the Tong Wars of 19th century San Francisco.

Warrior pre-dates Tong Wars — it was first set up at Cinemax for development in May 2015. I hear Tong Wars was taken to HBO/Cinemax, which declined to read the script as the Warrior pilot already had been written. The rival project was then quickly shopped and sold to Amazon. Warrior is far ahead, with filming starting next week. I also hear the two shows are quite different in tone, with Tong Wars more of a traditional premium TV drama, and Warrior more in the vein of Banshee, an entertaining genre show, which, like Bruce Lee’s movies, mixes martial arts and humor.

Warrior has an interesting backstory that sheds light on the “correcting wrong” comment Lin made earlier.

Lin recalled “growing up as an Asian American, and hearing the story behind Bruce Lee and the relationship to David Carradine’s Kung Fu.” For years, there had been rumblings that Lee had had a concept for a TV series — coincidentally (or not) called The Warrior, according to Lee’s widow Linda Lee Cadwell — that would’ve featured Lee as an Asian hero in the American West. The version of events that has been widely circulated (but never fully confirmed) is that the studios did not think viewers would embrace an Asian leading man, and Kung Fu was ultimately created with Carradine as the star.

It was Lin’s producing partner Woodrow who asked him whether the Lee TV series pitch was real or an urban legend. To get an answer, the two reached out to Lee’s daughter Shannon, who confirmed that an 8-page treatment by Lee existed and showed it to them. “That’s how this project came to life,” Lin said. He added that Shannon Lee has boxes and boxes containing writings by her late father.

When Lin, Woodrow and Lee pitched the idea for Warrior to HBO/Cinemax, “we talked about the aspirations of combining really well developed characters with an action-oriented show,” Antholis said. “We had the idea of bringing in Jonathan Tropper based on the work he did on Banshee not knowing that he is a black belt in karate and idolized Bruce Lee as a kid. He fit right in.”

Daniella Woodrow

Shannon Lee


How much of Lee’s original treatment made it into Warrior? “It’s our job to find the essence of what he was trying to say,” Lin said. “The character of Sahm, a lot of the stuff is based off what Bruce Lee wanted way back when he came up with the idea.”

Lin says that one of his “heartaches” was that his schedule did not allow him to direct the Warrior pilot episode. “It was very important to Kary, to Jonathan and me that we find a filmmaker, someone that comes and develops everything with character-first,” he said. “We are so fortunate to have Assaf Bernstein, a director who will capture the most intimate and textured performances amidst the action-packed backdrop of our series.” Bernstein also executive produces.

Lin, who will be on set for most of the pilot, called the sets for the show “phenomenal, some of the biggest sets I’ve been involved with.”

No premiere date for Warrior has been set, but it’s expected to launch in late 2018/early 2019.

Bernstein recently wrapped film Look Away, starring Jason Isaacs, Mira Sorvino and India Eisley. He is repped by WME, Primary Wave and Reder & Feig.

Assaf Bernstein


http://deadline.com/2017/10/warrior-cin ... 202185298/
Thanks Nick.

I found this part interesting..."Lin recalled “growing up as an Asian American, and hearing the story behind Bruce Lee and the relationship to David Carradine’s Kung Fu.” For years, there had been rumblings that Lee had had a concept for a TV series — coincidentally (or not) called The Warrior, according to Lee’s widow Linda Lee Cadwell — that would’ve featured Lee as an Asian hero in the American West. The version of events that has been widely circulated (but never fully confirmed) is that the studios did not think viewers would embrace an Asian leading man, and Kung Fu was ultimately created with Carradine as the star."

What seems confirmed is that the studio (WB) didn't think audiences would embrace Bruce as an asian lead star in a TV series. Paul Heller, Fred Weintraub, and Tom Kuhn have all pretty much confirmed this in interviews over the years.

What doesn't seem clear is whether Lee's idea and treatment for 'The Warrior' was written before or independently of the Kung Fu script by Ed Spielman and Howard Friedlander.
"All type of knowledge ultimately means self-knowledge"
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Joined: January 17th, 2014, 1:19 am

October 15th, 2017, 5:13 am #4

https://tvwriter.net/herbie-j-pilato-te ... s-kung-fu/
Herbie J. Pilato asked this question: "Would Bruce Lee, a Chinese immigrant to America, a proud and accomplished man who dedicated his life to the perfection of Chinese Martial arts…create a character who was a Master of Kung Fu…but who was only half-Chinese?"
What about a Master of Kung Fu…but who was only 3/4 Chinese?

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Joined: January 17th, 2014, 1:19 am

October 15th, 2017, 6:11 pm #5

Thanks Nick.

I found this part interesting..."Lin recalled “growing up as an Asian American, and hearing the story behind Bruce Lee and the relationship to David Carradine’s Kung Fu.” For years, there had been rumblings that Lee had had a concept for a TV series — coincidentally (or not) called The Warrior, according to Lee’s widow Linda Lee Cadwell — that would’ve featured Lee as an Asian hero in the American West. The version of events that has been widely circulated (but never fully confirmed) is that the studios did not think viewers would embrace an Asian leading man, and Kung Fu was ultimately created with Carradine as the star."

What seems confirmed is that the studio (WB) didn't think audiences would embrace Bruce as an asian lead star in a TV series. Paul Heller, Fred Weintraub, and Tom Kuhn have all pretty much confirmed this in interviews over the years.

What doesn't seem clear is whether Lee's idea and treatment for 'The Warrior' was written before or independently of the Kung Fu script by Ed Spielman and Howard Friedlander.
Justin Lin is 46. He was in his early 20s in the early 1990s. Did the Bruce Lee came up with the Kung Fu concept rumor exist prior to that?
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Joined: January 17th, 2014, 1:19 am

October 15th, 2017, 6:12 pm #6

Thanks Nick.

I found this part interesting..."Lin recalled “growing up as an Asian American, and hearing the story behind Bruce Lee and the relationship to David Carradine’s Kung Fu.” For years, there had been rumblings that Lee had had a concept for a TV series — coincidentally (or not) called The Warrior, according to Lee’s widow Linda Lee Cadwell — that would’ve featured Lee as an Asian hero in the American West. The version of events that has been widely circulated (but never fully confirmed) is that the studios did not think viewers would embrace an Asian leading man, and Kung Fu was ultimately created with Carradine as the star."

What seems confirmed is that the studio (WB) didn't think audiences would embrace Bruce as an asian lead star in a TV series. Paul Heller, Fred Weintraub, and Tom Kuhn have all pretty much confirmed this in interviews over the years.

What doesn't seem clear is whether Lee's idea and treatment for 'The Warrior' was written before or independently of the Kung Fu script by Ed Spielman and Howard Friedlander.
Justin Lin is 46. He was in his early 20s in the early 1990s. Did the Bruce Lee came up with the Kung Fu concept rumor exist prior to that?
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Joined: July 24th, 2015, 3:19 am

October 16th, 2017, 9:16 am #7

Well, Linda Lee in her 1975 book talks about Bruce having the idea of a Shaolin priest roaming the old American west in the 19th century, and that Bruce gave WB lots of ideas for the TV series. There was a big long thread about this in the forum some time ago where we hashed it all out. The question of whether Bruce Lee created what is now known as the Kung Fu series was never resolved to anyone's satisfaction I don't think. What relationship The Warrior had to Kung Fu is still an open question.
"All type of knowledge ultimately means self-knowledge"
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Joined: January 17th, 2014, 1:19 am

October 19th, 2017, 12:51 am #8

So Bruce Lee: The Man Only I knew was the first time the Bruce Lee created Kung Fu narrative appeared. Where was the threat of lawsuit then?
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Joined: July 24th, 2015, 3:19 am

October 19th, 2017, 7:43 pm #9

The problem is it's difficult to figure out whether The Warrior was a separate but similar idea to Kung Fu, or that The Warrior actually turned into Kung Fu. John Little, for example, claims (In Letters of the Dragon) that The Warrior became Kung Fu. There are also letters written to Larry Hartsell and to Taky Kimura where Bruce says he has "created a new TV series based on martial arts". In The Man Only I Knew, Linda says that Bruce only contributed ideas to Kung Fu.

In any case, it's been well documented that Howard Friedlander and Ed Spielman had originally written the story (intended as a movie) back in the 1960s. They sold it to Warner Bros in 1970. This, plus the fact that Ed Spielman and Howard Friedlander were given credit for the Kung Fu TV series, makes me think The Warrior was a separate but similar idea, and that Fred Weintraub poached some of Bruce's ideas and gave them to Jerry Thorpe (producer of Kung Fu).

The only things we know for sure is that Warner Bros had a martial arts TV project they were developing in 1971. Bruce and Fred Weintraub were having on-going discussions about it. Bruce was hoping to star in it, and that Fred tried to help out. But it wasn't ultimately up to Fred, and the lead role went to David Carradine. The project was called Kung Fu, and the credit went to Ed Spielman, Howard Friedlander and Jerry Thorpe.
"All type of knowledge ultimately means self-knowledge"
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