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Thread: Bruce Lee's Warrior

  1. #16
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    Expanded cast

    ‘Warrior’ Casts Four For Season 2 Of Cinemax Drama Series; Promotes Dustin Nguyen To Regular
    By Denise Petski
    Co-Managing Editor
    May 9, 2019 10:00am


    Courtesy of Cinemax/HBO

    EXCLUSIVE: Warrior is setting its cast for Season 2 of the Cinemax drama series, from Justin Lin and Banshee co-creator Jonathan Tropper. Dustin Nguyen, who recurs as Zing in Season 1, has been promoted to series regular for the second season, and also will direct the sixth episode of Season 2. In addition, Chen Tang (Bosch), Celine Buckens (Free Rein) and Miranda Raison (Dark Heart) have joined the series regular cast, and Maria Elena Laas (Vida) will recur.

    Created by Tropper, based on the writings of martial arts legend Bruce Lee, Warrior is a gritty, action-packed crime drama set during the brutal Tong Wars of San Francisco’s Chinatown in the second half of the 19th century. The series follows Ah Sahm (Andrew Koji), a martial arts prodigy who emigrates from China to San Francisco under mysterious circumstances. After proving his worth as a fighter, Ah Sahm becomes a hatchet man for the Hope Wei, one of Chinatown’s most powerful Tongs (Chinese organized crime family).

    Nguyen’s Zing is a ruthless, unpredictable leader of the Fung Hai tong. Zing’s partnership with Mai Ling and his unrelenting grip on Big Bill position him to become a powerful new force in Chinatown.

    Tang will play Hong, a somewhat eccentric but no less deadly hatchet man sent over from China to join the Hop Wei tong’s ranks.

    Buckens will portray Sophie Mercer, a young, rebellious woman, chafing against the constraints of her blue-blooded upbringing, who crosses family lines to take up the cause of the Irish Workingmen.

    Raison is Nellie Davenport, a wealthy widow who uses her husband’s fortunes to ease the plight of young girls forced into prostitution.

    Laas recurs as Rosalita Vega, a tough, savvy, opportunistic Mexican woman who runs a notorious fight club on San Francisco’s famed Barbary Coast.

    Warrior received an early season 2 renewal last month, just three episodes in to its freshman run.

    Tropper executive produces, along with Lin and Danielle Woodrow via Perfect Storm Entertainment, Shannon Lee for Bruce Lee Entertainment and Brad Kane. Richard Sharkey is co-executive producer. The series is produced for Cinemax by Perfect Storm Entertainment, Tropper Ink Productions and Bruce Lee Entertainment.

    Tang has appeared in numerous recurring and guest starring roles in shows such as Bosch, Agents of Shield, Grey’s Anatomy, Being Mary Jane, among others. He will next be seen as Yao in the anticipated Disney live-action film Mulan.

    Buckens portrayed Émilie in Steven Spielberg’s 2011 film War Horse. She most recently starred as Mia in the Netflix original series Free Rein. She also features in Bill Condon’s upcoming film The Good Liar. Other television credits include ITV’s drama Endeavour.

    Raison’s credits include Dark Heart (ITV Studios), Nightflyers (Netflix/Syfy), Spotless (Netflix/Studio Canal), MI-5 (Kudos), 24: Live Another Day, Murder on the Orient Express (Twentieth Century Fox), Breathe (Imaginarium) and My Week with Marilyn (Trademark). Her extensive stage work includes the role Hermione in The Winter’s Tale.

    Laas currently stars in Starz’s Vida, which premieres its second season later this year. Most recently, Laas wrapped production on Apple’s first original scripted series, Vital Signs, written by and starring Dr. Dre.

    Nguyen is most known for his portrayal of Officer Harry Ioki on Fox series 21 Jump Street and also made cameos in the two features from Sony Pictures. Nguyen also had starring roles in Miramax film The Rebel, the comedy 798Ten which he also directed and was the highest grossing film in Vietnam last year, and recently guest starred in an episode of This is Us.

    Tang is represented by Luber Roklin Entertainment, David Arrigotti at Daniel Hoff Agency and Stone, Genow, Smelkinson, Binder and Christopher. Buckens is represented by Jane Epstein Independent Talent Group, Bonnie Liedtke Authentic Talent & Literary Management. Raison is represented by United Agents. Laas is represented by GVA Talent Agency, Viewpoint and Zero Gravity Management. Nguyen is represented by Buchwald.
    Anyone else watching this yet?
    Gene Ching
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  2. #17
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    Shannon speaks

    Shannon Lee Talks ‘Warrior’ And How Hollywood Honors And Exploits Her Father’s Legacy
    By Dino-Ray Ramos
    Associate Editor/Reporter
    @DinoRay


    Shannon Lee, executive producer of Cinemax's "Warrior" and daughter of martial arts legend Bruce Lee.
    Vincent Yu/Shutterstock

    Bruce Lee is a martial arts legend and an icon in Hollywood who broke ground as an Asian American actor. After his untimely death in 1973, he continued to be praised as a cultural touchstone in more ways than one and his likeness has been all over films and TV for decades. But if there is one gatekeeper to everything that is Bruce Lee it would be his daughter Shannon Lee, who is in charge of his estate. She is also the executive producer of the Cinemax action drama Warrior (the season one finale airs tonight) which comes from an eight-page treatment for a TV series her father wrote and pitched to Warner Bros. It was basically a Hollywood urban legend.


    Andrew Koji as Ah Sahm in Cinemax’s “Warrior”.
    David Bloomer/Cinemax

    “Technically, if we’re really starting from the beginning, the journey began 50 years ago with him,” Lee tells Deadline of the origin of Warrior. “I’d always heard the story that he had created this and pitched it, but I guess I didn’t know for sure that the actual pages existed.”

    Lee said that there were boxes and boxes of her father’s notes and writings (which included plenty of other treatments) and in the back of her mind, she knew that they were in there but she really didn’t know. It was a long process, but Lee found the treatment during 2001. There were several drafts of it with several pages of notes that included his vision. “Had we just had the treatment, we wouldn’t really have been able to see as much of his process, what he was really thinking, what was important to him and what scenes he was trying to work through.”

    Even so, Lee wasn’t quick to get this series made. “I was still in a process of going through everything,” she said. “There was a lot I was trying to get my arms around. I was ending an acting career, stepping into a new one and not in a position to also step into trying to be a producer.” That said, it went back into the box for about 10 more years — and then Justin Lin called.


    Justin Lin on the set of 2007’s “Finishing The Game: The Search For A New Bruce Lee”.
    Shutterstock

    Lin, who directed the documentary Finishing the Game: The Search for a New Bruce Lee as well as the wildly successful Fast and the Furious franchise, was also familiar with this elusive treatment that never went past the pitch phase because, as Lee put it, at the time he presented it to WB they weren’t ready for a TV show from a Chinese man even if it was Bruce Lee.

    Lin asked Lee if the treatment really existed and if she would be willing to show it to him — and she was more than happy to. He was very impressed with how well-written it was and more importantly, he saw her father’s vision. “He asked me if I had any desire to make series and I told him I would love nothing more than to make this.”

    He responded: “If you would want to, we should make this — and not just make it. But really make it the way your father intended it to be made and with the intent behind it.” Lee said Lin said it needed to be made right away otherwise it’s not really worth doing. She answered, “Oh my God, this is music to my ears.” Thus the seed for Warrior was officially planted.


    Andrew Koji, Rich Ting, and Jason Tobin in “Warrior”.
    David Bloomer/Cinemax

    Set in San Francisco, Warrior is a crime drama injected with adrenaline-filled martial arts that echoes the legacy of Bruce Lee. The series takes place during the brutal Tong Wars of San Francisco’s Chinatown in the second half of the 19th century. The story puts the focus on Ah Sahm (Andrew Koji), a martial arts prodigy who emigrates from China to San Francisco under mysterious circumstances and becomes a hatchet man for one of Chinatown’s most powerful organized crime family. The series was picked up for a second season.

    Lee said a lot of care was given to make the series authentic, which meant getting as many Asian voices and collaborators involved as possible. At the same time, there was an understanding that they also had to collaborate with people who really understood what they were trying to do.

    “Jonathan Tropper, who is the head writer and the showrunner and executive producer, is not Asian,” Lee points out. “But we did meet with other Asian writers, and there were Asian writers in the writers’ room when we filled it out.”
    continued next post
    Gene Ching
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  3. #18
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    Continued from previous post


    Olivia Cheng in “Warrior”.
    David Bloomer/Cinemax

    She continues, “One of the reasons that Jonathan was such a great collaborator on this was because, first of all, he has a deep martial arts background. He has a black belt himself. He’s a huge fan of Bruce Lee, knows all the movies and all that fun stuff.”

    “We wanted to try and find an Asian showrunner and for the timing of it and where we were and what was available at the time, that was not the fit that came about,” she explained. “But we needed to have that support throughout the show in every possible aspect of it — and it’s a show that also has to take in the entirety of the world.”

    Lee and Lin stayed on top of every aspect of the show. They guided the show and made sure that the approach came correct. She points out that the show still has an Asian center with the martial arts, Chinatown and the nuanced characters — specifically wit the women. “I wanted to make sure that the women were being portrayed in a particular way and not just victims of the men,” she said. “But certainly the characters are in the constraints of their time and place, but they all have their own power in their own way and their own way in which they’re exhibiting their power in this world and not just swooning on a fainting couch.”

    Through the updated tone, portrayal of Asian and women, Warrior maintains the Bruce Lee vision and brand, if you will. “That’s how my father approached his stuff,” she explains. “He was like, ‘Look, if I don’t make an entertaining movie, nobody’s going to come — and then I get to sneak in my philosophy and all these great things.'”

    Lee admits that she is in a position where she has to partner with people to make projects like Warrior happen (she has a couple of more scripted series under wraps as well). The collaboration between Lee and Lin was a match made in heaven and Lee did not have any reservations about making the show with the Fast and Furious Godfather. But it hasn’t always been like this for her. Bruce Lee is an icon and with that, comes tons of TV shows and films using his likeness. Whether it is in a comedic or dramatic context, Bruce Lee has been portrayed on the big and small screen in multiple iterations and there is no end in sight.


    Bruce Lee in “Enter The Dragon”.
    David Bloomer/Cinemax

    When it comes to her father’s estate, Lee walks a fine line of being a gatekeeper to her father’s “brand” and also being his daughter. She realizes her responsibility and is very careful who she aligns herself with. She said she has been pitched numerous projects about her father and, most of the time she has said no. The times she did say yes, the projects fell apart and she regretted saying yes.


    Warner Bros/Shutterstock

    “People know the name Bruce Lee and it’s exciting and they want to capitalize on that,” she said. “They want to get involved with that, but they don’t want to get involved with me.”

    Lee adds that when many people want to option the rights to her father and then have her go away. That is one of the main reasons why it takes so long for her to make many of these Bruce Lee-centric projects. She is aware that she doesn’t have a track record when it comes to making TV shows or film. All she has is her words. “I really, really need to be involved in this process — and not because I’m trying to be overly controlling or I have this specific vision,” she said about projects about her father. “I just need to make sure it gets made the right way.”

    “It has to be in alignment with my father’s legacy and with my family and with my family’s legacy,” she adds. “We can be as creative and as free and as awesome as we want to be, but if, at the end, if come to me and say ‘I want to make a buddy cop movie where Bruce Lee goes around giving people the death touch and scaling walls like Spider-Man,’ I’m going to say no.”


    Mike Moh as Bruce Lee in “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”.
    Sony Pictures

    In the first trailer for Quentin Tarantino’s upcoming Once Upon a Time In Hollywood, which premiered at Cannes, there is a significant part of it that includes Mike Moh Bruce Lee. She said that no one reached out to her about including her father’s likeness in the movie. “In these instances, there are a lot of different ways you can go,” she admits.

    She continues, “If they contacted me, I could be completely unreasonable and a pain in the ass and make all kinds of ridiculous demands — but they don’t know that I’m not going to do that. A lot of times, the best practice is ‘we’ll just stay away from that so we don’t have to even open that can of worms.'”

    Lee said that it is completely up to her to what she spends her time and money fighting over. “With Tarantino’s film, to not have been included in any kind of way, when I know that he reached out to other people but did not reach out to me, there’s a level of annoyance — and there’s part of me that says this is not worth my time and my energy. Let’s just see how the universe deals with this one.”


    Warner Bros/Shutterstock

    She adds that she thought it was interesting that they put the Bruce Lee character front and center in the trailer. She doesn’t know what his role in in the movie and has no ill will against Moh. She just hopes that the finished product is good.

    When she first took charge of her father’s estate, she not only had to balance the business and personal, she had to be comfortable in running a business.”Whether I want to run it or somebody else wants to run it, people want to make things using Bruce Lee,” she said. “In my mind, who better to at least have some say in what that is and how that goes other than his family? But it does get challenging because I have my own sort of desire and dream about how this goes and the projects that get made.”
    I've still only seen the premiere episode. I'm told this series gets better. Anyone here watching?
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
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  4. #19
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    Our freshest exclusive interview

    Meet Bolo 2019. READ Rich Ting: Onwards and Upwards with WARRIOR by Kurtis Fujita

    Gene Ching
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    18th Annual Unforgettable Gala


    Character Media Announces Nominees For 18th Annual Unforgettable Gala




    Character Media announced today the nominees for the 18th Annual Unforgettable Gala. The Gala is the preeminent awards show to recognize Asian American icons and changemakers in the entertainment industry, who are representing the community through their creativity and excellence. Nominees were voted on by Character Media's selection committee of experts, who represent various fields and creative disciplines, including film, television, music, sports, digital technology and philanthropy.

    The following are this year's nominees. Additional awards will be announced at a later date.

    Actor/Actress in Television:

    Daniel Wu - "Into the Badlands"

    Jameela Jamil - "The Good Place"

    Karen Fukuhara - "The Boys"

    Leonardo Nam - "Westworld"

    Nico Santos - "Superstore"

    Actor/Actress on Film:

    Ali Wong - "Always Be My Maybe"

    Awkwafina - "The Farewell"

    Kumail Nanjiani - "Stuber"

    Randall Park - "Always Be My Maybe"

    Steven Yeun - "Burning"

    Breakout Actor/Actress on Television:

    Andrew Koji - "Warrior"

    Derek Mio - "The Terror: Infamy"

    Greta Lee - "Russian Doll"

    Maya Erskine - "Pen15"

    Sydney Park - "Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists"

    Breakout Actor/Actress on Film:

    Charles Melton - "The Sun is Also a Star"

    Himesh Patel - "Yesterday"

    Maya Erskine - "Plus One"

    Tiffany Chu - "Ms. Purple"

    Viveik Kalra - "Blinded by the Light"

    Comic Performance:

    Ali Wong - "Always Be My Maybe"

    Hasan Minhaj - "Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj"

    Jo Koy - "Comin' in Hot"

    Ken Jeong - "Ken Jeong: You Complete Me, Ho"

    Ronny Chieng - "The Daily Show"

    Director:

    James Wan - "Aquaman"

    Jimmy Chin, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi - "Free Solo"

    Justin Chon - "Ms. Purple"

    Lulu Wang - "The Farewell"

    Nisha Ganatra - "Late Night"

    Digital Influencer:

    Bobby Hundreds

    Bretman Rock

    Jenn Im

    Jubilee Media

    Steven Lim

    The award recipients will be announced at the 18th Annual Unforgettable Gala, held at The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, CA, on December 14, 2019.
    THREADS
    Asian Film Festivals and Awards
    Into The Badlands
    The Farewell
    Warrior
    Aquaman
    Gene Ching
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  6. #21
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    No more Cinemax originals


    Cinemax Moving Out Of Originals; HBO Sister Network Will “See Out” Current Slate Of Commissions – TCA

    By Peter White
    January 15, 2020 3:54pm


    Shutterstock

    Cinemax will no longer commission original shows as HBO Max gears up for its forthcoming launch.

    The HBO sister network will continue to remain as a linear cable channel, which largely airs movies, but the Cinemax brand will not be transferred to the HBO Max service.

    The revelation came up during the HBO Max exec session at the Winter TCA press tour with HBO Max Chief Content Officer Kevin Reilly, HBO Max Chief Content Officer Sarah Aubrey and Michael Quigley, executive vice president of content acquisitions and strategy.

    Reilly said, “You can expect that there won’t be any more [Cinemax] originals.”

    Cinemax has changed its originals strategy a number of times in recent years. It has largely been involved as the U.S. home for international co-productions such as Left Bank-produced action drama Strike Back, which is a co-pro with UK’s Sky, and detective drama C.B Strike, which is a co-pro with the BBC. It was also set to air Sky original Gangs of London.

    With shows such as Banshee, The Knick, Outcast and Quarry ending, the only major question mark concerns shows such as action drama Warrior, which was renewed for a second season in April 2019.
    Still haven't watched any more of this. I suppose I should...
    Gene Ching
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  7. #22
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    Warrior | Season 2 Official Tease | Cinemax

    Gene Ching
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  8. #23
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    Vanity Fair

    REPRESENTATION
    Warrior Takes the “Model Minority” Cliche and “Flips It on Its Ass”

    Peak TV should mean Peak Inclusion, but the vivid Cinemax series has had to fight for its life
    BY MAUREEN RYAN
    SEPTEMBER 10, 2020


    Andrew Koji as Ah Sahm and Olivia Cheng as Ah Toy in HBO's Warrior.BY DAVID BLOOMER/CINEMAX.

    No one rides around in a covered wagon, but the striving characters of Warrior give off major pioneer energy. Warrior, which kicks off its second season on Cinemax on October 2, is not just an action-filled period piece about friendships and fortunes made and lost: In many ways, it is America’s origin story in miniature. Its struggle to get on the air, and stay there, is also an object lesson in how difficult it can be to get Hollywood to make good on its promises of inclusion.

    The show, which follows immigrants like Ah Sahm (Andrew Koji) and Ah Toy (Olivia Cheng) as they carve out new lives in 19th century San Francisco, is a solid example of the vivid genre fare Cinemax churned out for the past decade. History buffs are likely to savor Warrior’s depiction of the boisterous city, and fans of classic Westerns will certainly enjoy the saloon brawls. The ever-shifting romances, alliances, and conflicts are straight out of prime-time soaps, and the show’s corsets and bushy Victorian beards should be catnip to fans of costume drama.

    “It’s an extremely accessible show,” executive producer Shannon Lee told Vanity Fair. “It references all these familiar genres that people love.”

    Warrior also contains highly relevant social and political themes: Its narrative center of gravity lies within San Francisco’s Chinatown, and as the city grows, greedy politicians, canny labor agitators, corrupt cops, and members of the Chinese community grapple over resources, contracts, elections, and who gets to survive, let alone thrive. A number of politicians and moguls find it convenient to scapegoat residents of Chinese descent (sound familiar?), even as those white men depend on the immigrants’ cheap labor to build their fortunes.

    As if all that weren’t enough, Warrior is based on an eight-page TV treatment that Bruce Lee penned decades ago but could not get made in his lifetime. The martial arts legend’s daughter, Shannon Lee, is an executive producer on the show, along with Jonathan Tropper and Justin Lin. The team made sure the drama not only leaned heavily on Bruce Lee’s original vision, but also saw to it that the interlocking storylines were punctuated by intense fight scenes.

    “We were trying to make a show that had universal themes—not simply a historical drama, not just an action show, and not simply a Bruce Lee celebration,” said Tropper, the showrunner of Warrior, as well as the Cinemax cult favorite Banshee. “Warrior underscores a problem America has with its own identity, which is that it’s a country built on immigrants that has a troubled relationship with immigrants. All of that boils down to the racism that is systemic in every institution we have, and this story is about that—without really preaching.”

    Indeed, Warrior is far from eat-your-vegetables TV: It’s a handsome, adrenalized ride with a multiracial ensemble cast that engages in fisticuffs on the regular. But the Asian characters are the most important ones, and they are not exoticized or stereotyped as “inscrutable.” Olivia Cheng told Vanity Fair that the keys to playing the businesswoman Ah Toy are her “absolute pride and defiance,” adding, “The heroes of our show completely take the ‘model minority’ narrative and flip it on its ass.”


    Andrew Koji as Ah Sahm.BY DAVID BLOOMER/CINEMAX.

    SUITS AND SWAGGER
    The debut season of Warrior, which arrived in 2019, laid out the conflicts among the criminally-minded tongs that run the show’s version of Chinatown. Those storylines make it clear that classic gangster sagas are also among Warrior’s biggest influences: Some members of a powerful tong, the Hop Wei, flaunt the kind of sharp black suits and swagger that would not be out of place in a Martin Scorsese or John Woo film.

    Core character Ah Sahm had a bumpy learning curve, but eventually became a crucial member of the Hop Wei, which is in a tenuous position at the start of season two. “He was testing the waters and figuring things out and playing it safe [before]—and now he knows what he wants to do,” Koji said.

    Two cops investigating crime in and around Chinatown often cross paths with Ah Sahm, Ah Toy, and the Hop Wei, as do the mayor, his wife, and an Irish labor boss. Other key characters are Mai Ling (Dianne Doan), an ambitious woman at the heart of a powerful tong; Young Jun (Jason Tobin), Ah Sahm’s restless but loyal best friend; and Wang Chao (Banshee’s Hoon Lee), a fixer useful to powerful forces inside and outside Chinatown.

    “I never thought I would get a chance to do period piece dramas,” said Cheng, who added that the response to Warrior is unlike anything she’s ever experienced. When fans meet her, she told Vanity Fair, they really want to talk. “You suddenly become a sounding board and an audience for their dissertation on Warrior,” Cheng said. “And I’m riveted, because it’s really thoughtful commentary. There’s a real connection.”

    Part of the reason for that connection, especially among viewers of Asian descent, is the paucity of American one-hour productions or coproductions that feature a large number of Asian actors in core roles. Very few TV programs in U.S. television history fit that criteria: Netflix’s Wu Assassins and Marco Polo, as well as the second season of AMC’s The Terror, are among the few that do.


    Olivia Cheng as Ah Toy.BY DAVID BLOOMER/CINEMAX.
    continued next post
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    continued from previous post

    “THE ONLY ASIAN GUY ON THE SHOW”
    Around five decades ago, Bruce Lee came up with the eight-page TV treatment, but his story of an itinerant martial artist in the Old West never made it to the small screen. In 1972, a Warner Bros. TV show debuted on ABC: It was called Kung Fu and it was about a man with prodigious martial arts skills who wandered around the 19th century American West. Over the years, people have pointed out similarities between the TV premise Lee dreamed up in his proposal and Kung Fu.

    “If you ask my mother, she will say it’s based on my father’s idea,” Shannon Lee said. “Yet if you ask anyone at Warner Bros., they will say that they had come up with that idea first.”

    Though there is some dispute about whether Lee’s ideas influenced what evolved into Kung Fu, there’s no doubt about one fact: When the drama arrived on TV, a white man, David Carradine, played the show’s lead character, who had a Chinese mother and a white American father. Though Bruce Lee was considered for the role, the actor didn’t get it. According to a 2018 Bruce Lee biography, Warner Bros. executive Tom Kuhn worried about Lee’s accent, and is quoted as saying that none of the Asian actors who auditioned “really measured up.”

    If her father had sold and starred in the TV drama he had wanted to make, “he probably would have been the only Asian guy on the show,” Shannon Lee noted.

    Even now, actors of Asian descent aren’t often cast as the leads in American TV and films (although a gender-flipped version of Kung Fu is in the works at the CW). As was the case with Marvel’s misbegotten Iron Fist, they tend to play the sidekicks of a white lead, and the storytelling rarely revolves around them: “There might be a special episode where they go to Chinatown or Koreatown, and that’s it,” said Jeff Yang, who writes opinion pieces for CNN and cohosts the podcast They Call Us Bruce.

    “The unfortunate thing for Asian American actors is so often, because people haven’t seen it, they don’t envision it,” director Lulu Wang told Vanity Fair’s Rebecca Sun for a feature on veteran actor and Mulan star Tzi Ma. “They’re like, ‘I’ve written this for Bill Murray, so we’re going to go look for somebody who looks like Bill Murray.’ Well, why not imagine Tzi?… His face is so expressive. He’s able to do so much with so little, and there’s humor in his eyes as well as pathos. I refer to him as the Asian Bill Murray, because he can make you laugh just by sitting there. Just because you haven’t seen him in a certain type of role in the past, doesn’t mean that you can’t be the one to create that for him.”


    Jason Tobin as Young Jun and Andrew Koji as Ah Sahm.BY DAVID BLOOMER/CINEMAX.

    Despite the “peak TV” explosion of the past decade, getting projects with majority-Asian casts off the ground can still be an uphill battle in this country, at least going by the challenging journey that Warrior went on before it landed at Cinemax. Lin recalled that when he and Lee were pitching Warrior around Hollywood a few years ago, he got the distinct impression it would have been an easier sell—and the show might have gotten a bigger budget—if the story had had a white protagonist or storytelling “lens.”

    “When it comes to a commitment to [spending] tens of millions of dollars, people can talk about inclusion and diversity, but they also tend to be very conservative,” Lin said. “When we presented the fact that we wanted to have all these three-dimensional Asian American characters, there was a price point, you know?”

    But, as Tropper said, the Asian characters were always “the purpose of the show.” To that end, Warrior employs an unusual strategy regarding language: While the drama cleverly acknowledges that their first language is Cantonese, Chinese characters on Warrior usually speak to each other in unaccented English, complete with epithets and casual slang.

    “I remember in season one, Henry Yuk, who played [tong leader] Long Zii, said to me, ‘Jonathan, I really want to thank you for a role where I get to use pronouns,’” Tropper recalled. “Because he was often cast as the wise old Chinese man who would speak in broken English.”

    ONE PARAGRAPH IN THE HISTORY BOOK
    Warrior thankfully avoids the laborious tone that some historical dramas are saddled with; instead, it breathes vivid life into aspects of America’s past that many remain unaware of. “I remember growing up with U.S. history and taking a class, and if you were lucky, [the book] had a paragraph about the Chinese American experience and the railroads,” Lin said.


    Jason Tobin as Young Jun.BY DAVID BLOOMER/CINEMAX.

    Filling in those gaps is especially important right now, because the 19th century of Warrior looks a lot like the year 2020. “A lot of the racial politics, a lot of the identity-building of America, was framed in part in opposition to Chinese Americans and Asian Americans and Asian immigration,” said Michelle K. Sugihara, executive director of Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment (CAPE). “That kernel has never really gone away.”

    Warrior doesn’t shy away from depicting violence against Chinese immigrants—or the kinds of political machinations that resulted in the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. And though Warrior is clear-eyed about how racist policies and attitudes were deployed by some white people of all classes, Tropper noted that the goal was not to make “a comic book” in which the Chinese characters are virtuous and white folks are the villains.

    “We really tried to contextualize the issues,” Tropper said. And indeed, both seasons of the drama demonstrate how different races were often intentionally pitted against each other by the powerful.

    According to Yang, “this is actually the very moment that a show like Warrior deserves to be a part of. It could act as a vaccination against the other problem we’re facing—the pandemic of xenophobia and hostility towards Asians that has come along with COVID.”

    DONE IN BY THE STREAMING WARS—OR NOT?
    Unfortunately, in the wake of AT&T’s acquisition of what is now known as WarnerMedia, Cinemax appears to be an afterthought; the network, which requires a subscription of its own, is no longer making original series, and the Wall Street Journal reported recently that its subscriber base is shrinking.


    Kieran Bew as Officer "Big Bill" O'Hara.BY DAVID BLOOMER/CINEMAX.

    Why wasn’t season one of Warrior—and other well-regarded Cinemax originals like Banshee and The Knick—made available on HBO Max when the streaming platform debuted in May? Lin said that when he inquired about Warrior’s possible migration from Cinemax to HBO Max, he said he was told the drama “didn’t fit the brand.”

    Business considerations may have been involved, but according to an insider familiar with the inner workings of WarnerMedia, the primary explanation for the lack of Cinemax fare on HBO Max comes down to indifference from the executive team that, until recently, ran the streamer. But in August, a corporate reshuffling saw the exit of several top executives and the promotion of HBO’s president of programming, Casey Bloys, who now oversees content for the streamer as well.

    After Bloys’s promotion, a WarnerMedia source said that the existing seasons of Warrior will be made available on HBO, thus accessible on HBO Max. That will happen after the second season of Warrior airs on Cinemax, and it’s not clear whether other Cinemax originals will also get added to the company’s marquee streaming platform.

    Unfortunately, a third season of Warrior looks quite unlikely. The show’s cast and creative team have dispersed, and though Tropper said there were conversations with Netflix about moving the show to that platform, that didn’t pan out. Still, Lee said the news of the drama’s eventual move to a bigger platform was “encouraging.”

    “That would be incredible,” added Tropper. “Warrior is a unique and timely show that I think, now more than ever, would find a significant viewership on major platforms like HBO and HBO Max.”

    The promise of the streaming era is that there is a place for everyone. Warrior’s devoted fans are about to find out if that’s actually true.
    I'm doing some work for Den of Geek on this so Cinemax has shared Season 2 screeners with me.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  10. #25
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    Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins Will Feature a “Realistic” Snake Eyes

    Gene Ching
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    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  11. #26
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    Warrior Season 2: What to Expect From the Return of the Martial Arts Drama

    Gene Ching
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    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  12. #27
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    Learn to Endure, or Hire a Bodyguard

    Read my latest review for Den of Geek: Warrior Season 2 Episode 1 Review: Learn to Endure, or Hire a Bodyguard. I’ve been tasked by Den of Geek to provide episode reviews for Season 2 of Warrior. These will go live immediately after they are telecast. WARNING – SPOILERS

    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  13. #28
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    Bruce Lee Forever! Shannon Lee Reflects on Her Father’s Legacy

    Gene Ching
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    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  14. #29
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    Warrior Season 2 Episode 3 Review: Not How We Do Business

    My latest episode review for Den of Geek: Warrior Season 2 Episode 3 Review: Not How We Do Business

    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  15. #30
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    Warrior, Snake Eyes, and What’s Next for Andrew Koji

    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

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