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  1. #1
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    Bruce Lee's Warrior

    Oooooh Justin Lin....

    This is not to be confused with the upcoming Warrior-on-NBC

    Cinemax Developing Bruce Lee-Inspired Crime Drama ‘Warrior’ From Justin Lin
    by Nellie Andreeva
    May 21, 2015 9:15am


    Justin Lin Bruce Lee

    А passion project for martial arts icon Bruce Lee and Fast & Furious director Justin Lin is headed to the small screen with a deal at Cinemax. The premium cable network has put in development drama series Warrior, inspired by writings of the Enter The Dragon actor. Lin is set to direct the potential pilot, written by Jonathan Tropper, co-creator of Banshee, Cinemax’s first homegrown hit from its current foray into primetime drama programming.

    Warrior is described as a visceral crime drama that traces the path of a gifted but morally corrupt fighter thrown into crisis after a Cinemaxlifelong quest for vengeance is undermined. It was the first project for the TV division of Perfect Storm Entertainment, Lin’s joint venture with Bruno Wu’s Seven Stars Studios. A couple of months after the launch of PSE’s TV operation in 2013, the company partnered with Lee’s daughter, Shannon Lee, and Bruce Lee Enterprises to develop Lee’s material into TV series.

    Warrior had been a passion project that Bruce Lee spent many years working on, but was never published or produced. Years after Lee’s sudden 1973 death at age 32, his daughter found a large collection of handwritten notes that Bruce wrote himself on the concept for the series that became the inspiration for the show. Perfect Storm Entertainment and Shannon Lee then brought the idea to Cinemax, with Tropper coming on board as writer/executive producer.

    Also executive producing are Perfect Storm’s Lin, president Troy Craig Poon and head of TV Danielle Woodrow as well as Shannon Lee of Bruce Lee Enterprises.

    In addition to his legacy as a martial arts and action star, Lee had strong writing interests and penned philosophy pieces as well as poetry.

    Lin is already in business with Cinemax sibling HBO, directing the first two episodes of True Detective‘s second season. In TV, he also directed the pilot and serves as executive producer on the breakout CBS drama Scorpion. On the feature side, in addition to helming the blockbuster Fast & Furious franchise, Lin also is attached to direct the third Star Trek movie. He is repped by CAA, manager Dana O’Keefe of Cinetic Media and attorney John Sloss.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  2. #2
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    Cinemax orders pilot

    Bruce Lee-Inspired Crime Drama ‘Warrior’ From Justin Lin & ‘Banshee’ Co-Creator Gets Cinemax Pilot Order
    by Nellie Andreeva
    August 30, 2016 9:30am


    Justin Lin Jonathan Tropper

    EXCLUSIVE: Cinemax has given a pilot order to Warrior, a crime drama based on original material written by Bruce Lee. Warrior has been a passion project for both the late martial arts icon and Fast & Furious helmer Justin Lin who is executive producing the pilot with an eye to direct. The pilot was written by Jonathan Tropper, co-creator of Banshee, Cinemax’s first homegrown primetime drama hit.

    Set against the backdrop of San Francisco’s Chinatown in the aftermath of the Civil War, Warrior tells the story of a young martial arts prodigy, newly arrived from China, who finds himself caught up in the bloody Chinatown Tong wars.



    Warrior was the first project put in development by the TV division of Perfect Storm Entertainment, Lin’s joint venture with Bruno Wu’s Seven Stars Studios. A couple of months after the launch of PSE’s TV operation in 2013, the company partnered with Lee’s daughter, Shannon Lee, and Bruce Lee Enterprises to turn Lee’s material into a TV series.


    Shutterstock

    Bruce Lee had spent many years working on Warrior, but it was never published or produced. Years after the Enter The Dragon actor’s sudden 1973 death at age 32, his daughter found a large collection of handwritten notes that Bruce wrote himself on the concept for the series that became the inspiration for the show. Perfect Storm Entertainment and Shannon Lee brought the idea to Cinemax in spring 2015, with Tropper coming on board as writer/executive producer.

    Also executive producing are Perfect Storm’s Lin, president Troy Craig Poon and head of TV Danielle Woodrow as well as Shannon Lee of Bruce Lee Enterprises. The pilot is being produced for Cinemax by Perfect Storm Entertainment, Tropper Ink and Bruce Lee Entertainment.

    In addition to his legacy as a martial arts and action star, Lee had strong writing interests and penned philosophy pieces as well as poetry.

    Lin is already in business with Cinemax sibling HBO, directing the first two episodes of True Detective‘s second season. In TV, he also directed the pilot and serves as executive producer on the breakout CBS drama Scorpion. On the feature side, in addition to helming the blockbuster Fast & Furious franchise, Lin also recently directed Star Trek Beyond. He is repped by CAA, manager Dana O’Keefe of Cinetic Media and attorney John Sloss.
    Man, Bruce is coming around again in a big way right now, what with Birth of the Dragon, Striking Thoughts and A Challenge.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
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  3. #3
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    10 eps for Cinemax

    Bruce Lee-Inspired Tong Wars Drama ‘Warrior’ From Justin Lin & ‘Banshee’ Co-Creator Gets Cinemax Series Order
    by Nellie Andreeva • tip
    June 7, 2017 9:30am


    Courtesy of HBO

    EXCLUSIVE: Cinemax has given a 10-episode straight-to-series order to 19th century crime drama Warrior, inspired by an idea from Bruce Lee, created and executive produced by Banshee co-creator Jonathan Tropper and executive producer by Justin Lin and Danielle Woodrow via Perfect Storm Entertainment, and Shannon Lee for Bruce Lee Entertainment.

    Warrior, which had been a passion project for both late martial arts icon Bruce Lee and Fast & Furious helmer Justin Lin, was originally set up at Cinemax for development in 2015 and was ordered to pilot last summer.

    Last December, Deadline unveiled Cinemax’s programming strategy shift toward the type of fare that launched the network’s push into original primetime series: fun, high-octane, action, pulpy, straight-to-series dramas done in a cost-effective way primarily as international co-productions. At the time, Kary Antholis, president, HBO Miniseries and Cinemax Programming, revealed that the idea was to do as many as four shows a year initially, three of them co-productions or very cost-effective and the fourth a marquee, homegrown show with a Banshee-level of budget. Back then, Warrior was already being eyed for a potential straight-to-series order to fill that marquee spot in the inaugural slate of the revamped Cinemax. Straight-to-series co-productions greenlighted under the model include a Strike Back reboot and Rellik.

    “Warrior follows in the spirit of the tradition of adrenalized Cinemax dramas that we established with Strike Back and Banshee,” said Antholis, listing the network’s two most successful original series to date. “We are brimming with excitement for this unique martial arts series combining Bruce Lee’s inspired conception with the immense storytelling talents of Jonathan Tropper and Justin Lin.”

    Warrior is described as 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, a martial arts prodigy who immigrates from China to San Francisco under mysterious circumstances, and becomes a hatchet man for one of Chinatown’s most powerful tongs (Chinese organized crime family).

    “As a show that proudly bears the imprimatur of Bruce Lee, it’s our intention to deliver not only explosive martial arts action – which we will – but also a powerful and complex immigration drama that is as relevant today as it was in the 1870s,” says Tropper.

    The Cinemax series order caps a four-year road to the screen for Warrior. It started in 2013 when Lin’s company partnered with Lee’s daughter, Shannon Lee, and Bruce Lee Enterprises to turn Lee’s material into a TV series.


    Shutterstock

    Bruce Lee had spent many years working on Warrior, but it was never published or produced. Years after the Enter The Dragon actor’s sudden 1973 death at age 32, his daughter found a large collection of handwritten notes that Bruce wrote himself on the concept for the series that became the inspiration for the show.

    “I’ve always admired Bruce Lee for his trailblazing efforts opening doors for Asians in entertainment and beyond,” Lin said. “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.

    Partnering with Cinemax has led to a wonderful collaboration with Jonathan Tropper, who has created a fantastic series inspired by Lee’s writings. We are all honored to continue what he started.”

    Warrior is produced for Cinemax by Perfect Storm Entertainment, Tropper Ink Productions and Bruce Lee Entertainment. Production is set to begin this fall in Cape Town, South Africa.

    Warrior marks the third on-air series for Perfect Storm, which also has new CBS drama series S.W.A.T. and returning Scorpion.
    Well then, we'll see how this goes.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  4. #4
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    Cast list

    ‘Warrior’: Cinemax Sets Cast & Director For Bruce Lee-Inspired Martial Arts Series
    Deadline Deadline
    Nellie Andreeva
    22 hrs ago


    © Provided by Deadline

    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.

    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.

    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.

    “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.”

    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.”

    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.
    Don't know Koji. But Olivia Cheng we know.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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    The first homegrown tentpole series under Cinemax

    ‘Warrior’: Cinemax Sets Cast & Director For Bruce Lee-Inspired Martial Arts Series
    by Nellie Andreeva
    October 11, 2017 11:30am


    Courtesy of Cinemax

    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.

    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.



    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.

    “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.”

    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.”

    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.
    Jun as in Jun Fan. Ohara is kinda funny - I hope that was an intentional shout out to ETD.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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    Warrior | Official Tease | Cinemax

    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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    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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    Warrior | Season 2 Official Tease | Cinemax

    Gene Ching
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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
    Gene Ching
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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
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    Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins Will Feature a “Realistic” Snake Eyes

    Gene Ching
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    Warrior Season 2: What to Expect From the Return of the Martial Arts Drama

    Gene Ching
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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
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    Catharsis

    Watching Martial Arts Movies Amid Anti-Asian Violence Is Much-Needed Catharsis
    Movies and TV shows like 'The Paper Tigers' and 'Warrior' show the beauty of Asian American survival.
    By Frances Nguyen
    June 8, 2021, 4:00am


    IMAGE VIA YOUTUBE
    When I saw the opening seven minutes of Mortal Kombat on Instagram, it was the first time I’d felt anything in the realm of joy in over a month. Given the contents of the clip, I was also a little horrified at myself.

    Faithful to its video game source material, the violence in the film begins almost immediately. Within the opening minutes, a woman dies. A child dies. Hanzo Hasashi—the man who will become Scorpion, the character in the game I played most often growing up—liberates what looks like quarts of blood from the bodies of his masked opponents before confronting his nemesis, the man who will become the ice-wielding assassin Sub-Zero. The teaser leaves you at the edge of a fight that promises to be an enthralling one; here, once again, someone will surely die violently.


    The theatrically gory film was an odd source of comfort during the weeks-long despondency I felt following a series of shootings in Atlanta that left eight people dead, six of whom were women of Asian descent. With a never-ending reel of brutal violence against Asians circulating online, there was something refreshing about escaping into a world populated by people who look like me and who are portrayed as strong.

    Coming at the end of a year that gave rise to more than 6,600 reported instances of anti-Asian hate between March 2020 and March 2021, and where assaults continue almost daily across the country, watching a group of Asian characters wield their bodies with physics-defying agility and precision to deliver bouts that look and feel more like physical dialogue than combat made for a stark contrast to the images I was seeing on news broadcasts and social media, which tend to foreground Asian bodies as quiet, passive vessels for someone else’s rage.

    Examining some of the most brutal recorded attacks that have taken place this year—on elders Vicha Ratanapakdee, Vilma Kari, and Yao Pan Ma—the abridged stories captured on camera repeat the same refrain: The Asian body appears and is brutalized; that’s all that we see. For Asian Americans, these scenes invite us to participate in a ritual of vicarious trauma: Without sound, our minds train instead on the movements of the bodies that appear on screen. We imagine ourselves and our loved ones in the only body that bears our likeness—the victim’s—and our own bodies are activated by the input of threat.

    Up until recently, however, Hollywood has arguably done little to provide counter-narratives to these stories, narratives that acknowledge the real-life experiences and agency of the individuals who are navigating what it means to be Asian in America in real time. A report released last month—co-authored by sociologist Nancy Wang Yuen, author of Reel Inequality: Hollywood Actors and Racism, and Stacy L. Smith, founder of the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative—revealed that in the top 100 films of 2019, just over a quarter of Asian and Pacific Islander (API) characters die by the end of the film—and all but one dies violently. The study also notes that 42 percent of the API characters experienced disparagement, including racist/sexist slurs, with 30 percent being tokenized (meaning they were the only Asian character in the film or scene) and 67 percent channeling tired Asian stereotypes. Notably, only 13 percent were portrayed as “fully human,” (ie, complex characters with agency) which the report measured in terms of them having a wide spectrum of relationships.

    I wasn’t alone in gravitating toward media where strong Asian characters took center stage. After the shootings in Atlanta—and after the video of Vilma Kari’s attack went viral—Yuen, the report’s co-author, told me that she and her friends started watching Kung Fu on The CW, a reboot of the 70s show starring David Carradine that premiered in early April.

    Though the original was not without its shortcomings (the lead role, of a half-Chinese Shaolin monk who wanders the Wild West, went to the white actor instead of Bruce Lee, despite Carradine having no prior martial arts training), the CW series gives the story a 21st century update. This time around, the lead is an Asian woman—and, importantly, an Asian woman who kicks ass. Olivia Liang’s Nicky Shen stands alone as the only Asian American woman lead on network television right now, and her characterization as a strong and capable defender of her hometown of San Francisco offers some counterweight to the blunt fact that Asian women are twice as likely to report being targets of anti-Asian hate than Asian men are.

    “Certainly, our show is not the solution, but I hope that we are a part of the solution,” showrunner Christina M. Kim said in a press conference a day after the Atlanta shootings.

    As Yuen sees it, the show’s main draw is its constellation of rich characters with developed backstories. “As an Asian American watching it, I feel empowered, not just because there’s martial arts but also in seeing people who aren’t just the sidekick, or the friend, or the villain,” she said. “They are the leads, and you feel like you can see yourself in different parts of them.” Ultimately, she said, that’s the goal of the report: for Hollywood to represent API characters as complex, multidimensional human beings—just like in real life.

    The Kung Fu reboot isn’t the only recent work that draws on martial arts as a vehicle for telling more three-dimensional human stories. The Paper Tigers—a charming comedy about three washed-up, middle-aged former kung fu disciples looking to avenge their sifu’s murder—uses the martial art as a way of telling a story about redemption, brotherhood, and becoming men.

    Released to streaming platforms and select theaters on May 7, The Paper Tigers complicates the strong-versus-weak narrative by presenting its heroes as both in different moments. They’re strong when they’re aligned to the teachings of kung fu—which espouse traditional Eastern values like honor, discipline, humility, and bravery—and weak, both physically and morally, when they stray from them. Throughout the film, the men contend with choosing when to fight and when to walk away: When his son gets beat up by the school bully, Danny, the lead character, tells the boy that he should have walked away from the kid who has been terrorizing him and his friend. Later, after one of the Tigers is sorely wounded, Danny heads off to a fight, but not before calling his son to tell him that he’s proud of him for sticking up for his friend. Fearing that he might not make it to see another day, he tells his son how to make a fist, but offers this information with a warning: “If you go looking for a fight, that makes you the bully.”

    Beyond the moments of pitch-perfect comedy (see: the many fortune cookie-worthy proverbs doled out by a white sifu, the men’s former schoolmate rival, in Cantonese, which none of them understand), there’s also something deeply gratifying about seeing bodies, out of practice for 25 years, reckon with their limitations and slowly relearn their discipline, building back their strength over time. Tran Quoc Bao, the film’s writer and director, said he wanted to highlight martial arts as a practice of discovering one’s inner strength, and learning the right moment to express it. “With martial arts,” he said, “it’s that constant sharpening of the sword knowing that you can hang it up and not use it.”
    continued next post
    Gene Ching
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