Period drama Warrior brings Bruce Lee’s vision to vivid life after 50 years

Enlarge / Andrew Koji plays Ah Sahm, a master martial artist who comes to San Francisco’s Chinatown and gets drawn in the infamous tong wars. (credit: HBO/David Bloomer)

There’s juicy political intrigue, forbidden love, and plenty of kung-fu fighting in Warrior, a new ten-episode series from Cinemax. The series is adapted from a treatment developed by legendary kung fu master Bruce Lee nearly 50 years ago, and while it’s been updated to suit contemporary tastes and trends, it still manages to capture the essence of Bruce Lee’s philosophical worldview.

(Mild spoilers below.)

According to Hollywood lore, Bruce Lee pitched an idea in 1971 for a TV series about a martial artist in the Old West. Skittish studio heads passed on the project (and on Lee as its star), opting to make Kung Fu with David Carradine instead. Lee’s daughter, Shannon Lee, heard these stories, too. When she took over management of her father’s legacy in 2000 as president of the Bruce Lee Foundation, among the archived materials was Lee’s original treatment, along with several drafts and notes. It stayed in storage for several years, until Lee mentioned its existence to executive producer Justin Lin (The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift). Lin loved the treatment and thought they could make the series that her father had always intended.

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