Shannon Lee: “It’s an honor for me to be able to have done this for my father.”
by Jennifer Ouellette
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.
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.
When Cinemax green-lit the project, they brought Jonathan Tropper on board as creator and executive producer. Tropper had just wrapped the final season of Banshee for the cable channel, and he was a Bruce Lee uber-fan, so he jumped at the chance to work on the project. “I could quote every [Bruce Lee] movie,” he said. “So the little boy in me was super excited.” He was surprised to find that the original treatment also featured numerous illustrations: Bruce Lee had an artistic bent and drew various characters and fight moves to augment his writing. The treatment was sparse enough that Tropper had freedom to flesh out the plot and create new characters. “All I had to do was be true to the integrity of the themes he wanted to explore,” he said—namely, the Chinese immigrant experience in 19th century San Francisco…
Image courtesy of Cinemax/HBO
Apr 5, 2019 8:30pm BST