Cinemax has released an official trailer for its new crime series inspired by Bruce Lee called “Warrior.”
“Warrior” follows a martial arts prodigy from China who moves to San Francisco’s Chinatown in the 1870s and finds himself entangled in the violent Tong Wars.
The series stars Andrew Koji, Jason Tobin, Olivia Cheng, Kieran Bew, Dianne Doan and Dean Jagger.
In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, director and executive producer Justin Lin shared that the search for an Asian lead and other Asian actors to complete the series was a challenging task.
“Casting directors, when they read ‘Asian American,’ kind of go to the same pool. It was important to us to find a casting director that would really be open to us going around the world [for the search]. It took a while … I think there wasn’t any rocks left unturned, and I think that’s the right way [to do it].”
Speaking to Collider, Lin revealed that Koji was cast so late that they were “a tweaked ankle away from shutting down” in the pilot episode.
“Andrew Koji came in really late. It was hard because we wanted somebody that has soul and is a great actor, but who can also do his own action. He actually came in so late that, during the pilot, we had no stunt double. We were a tweaked ankle away from shutting down. And he’s not easy to double. He’s six-feet-and-two-inches and has a very unique physique. So, we felt it was important to make sure that process was not taken for granted.”
Koji, whose credits include “The Innocents” (New Pictures/Netflix), was cast after impressing the production team with his acting.
“When we saw Andrew’s tape, he was just starting off and had only done a couple of things, and it turned out that he was Sung Kang’s stunt double on ‘Fast & Furious 6.’ He had just started acting, and he came in and blew us away,” Lin told Collider.
The drama is based on Bruce Lee’s pitch for a series called “The Warrior” in 1971, which studios apparently dismissed at the time.
In “Warrior,” Lin teamed up with Lee’s daughter, Shannon, who “brought eight pages of the original notes from Bruce.”
While changes have been made to make the series resonate with modern audiences, the production retains Lee’s original characters and themes.
“There were a lot of changes in pacing, in how we were going to explore certain issues. [We were] trying to honor the essence of what he was doing, but at the same time, cinema and TV and storytelling have really evolved,” Lin told EW.
Aside from the new trailer, Cinemax also released a docu-series that details how Lee’s writings ultimately became “Warrior.”
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🐉🔥👊🏽 ‘Warrior’ is premiering on @Cinemax, April 5. As many of you know, it is based on Bruce’s writings. Cinemax put together an awesome 8-part docu-series entitled ‘Becoming Warrior’ which details how Bruce’s writings came to be the new Cinemax Original Series, #WarriorMax . 🎥📸🎞 The first 3 episodes are up on @youtube —-> Link in bio . #BruceLee #BecomingWarrior #DreamsDoComeTrue #50YearsInTheMaking
“Warrior” airs on Cinemax beginning April 5.