In the 10-episode Cinemax action-packed drama collection Warrior, based mostly on writings from martial arts legend Bruce Lee and set through the brutal Tong Wars of San Francisco’s Chinatown in the second half of the 19th century, follows Ah Sahm (Andrew Koji), a young man who’s left China behind for San Francisco beneath mysterious circumstances, solely to understand just how challenging that can be. Now that he’s turn out to be a hatchet man for considered one of Chinatown’s most powerful Chinese language organized crime households, violence is erupting throughout him and he should determine which boundaries are value crossing and which may be too dangerous to survive.
During this 1-on-1 telephone interview with Collider, Shannon Lee (government producer for Bruce Lee Entertainment) talked about shepherding her father’s legacy, the challenges of the enterprise aspect of that, the 50-year journey that Warrior has taken, her response when government producer Justin Lin approached her about this venture, what made Jonathan Tropper (Banshee) the right showrunner, how this collection has surpassed her expectations, what she’s most pleased with with regards to the finished product, and her want to maintain telling this story for awhile longer (the collection has already been picked up for Season 2).
Collider: What does it imply to you, to not only have a hand in making this bad-ass TV collection that your father had all the time needed to make, but in addition have the ability to train individuals a thing or two about historical past, in the strategy of it?
SHANNON LEE: It’s a tremendous alternative. We’re doing the factor that my father was all the time making an attempt to do in his life, which is make extremely entertaining action-packed drama, but in addition with necessary cultural and philosophical info. This is really an extension of his legacy, in that regard. And it was essential to my father that this present be set on this time interval because he needed to inform these tales. He needed to spotlight this facet of history and a Chinese language American experience. I’m thrilled, beyond perception, to be able to have one of the best of both worlds, in some methods.
What’s it like so that you can be the one that shepherds this legacy? It’s your family’s legacy, nevertheless it’s also a legacy that’s so essential to so many individuals.
LEE: There are undoubtedly challenges. It’s not all just pie and champagne, or roses, or regardless of the factor is. The thing is that I simply need to be true to myself, within the shepherding of this legacy, as a result of I know, for myself, what I feel this legacy is, what’s essential about it, and what the power of it’s. And so, once I make these selections about the right way to transfer forward, it’s with all of that in mind. There are a lot of people who have opinions about what I must be doing and how I ought to be spending my time, and that’s pretty that they have these opinions, but for me, I’ve to do what I feel shouldn’t be solely right for me and my father, but in addition what speaks to me and my coronary heart, in all of this. If I didn’t have that, then it might really really feel like a chore.
Did it take you time to get to that place, or have you all the time felt such as you had a very clear concept of what that legacy must be?
LEE: It’s each. When my mother came to me, within the late ‘90s, and stated, “Do you have any interest in looking after your father’s legacy?,” my speedy answer was, “Yes.” And it was sure as a result of I simply felt like a few of the points of him and who he was have been being missed and not amplified sufficient, out on the earth, by means of the current methods during which issues have been being achieved. His life and his phrases had been and are so significant to me that I needed to amplify that, out on the planet. And once I first began doing it, there have been numerous issues that have been actually arduous. It was really onerous to not take business stuff personally as a result of individuals deal with this like a commodity, however that’s my dad. There was just a whole lot of simply emotional stuff to wade via and orient myself with. At first, it was additionally very onerous to focus because there’s a lot risk and a lot that may be carried out, but not all of it must be. There are a lot of people which might be coming to you with requests and things that they want, and it’s a must to weed via that while additionally focusing and figuring out what’s necessary and the best way to transfer forward, and that has been a unbroken course of. We’re getting higher at it, as we go forward, however I’ve been doing this for nearly 20 years, and the first decade was loads of clean-up and set-up that needed to be executed. Now, it’s lots about that focus and making an attempt to actually get readability round what it’s that we actually need, and putting these pieces in movement, in the easiest way to actually amplify his legacy, out on the earth.
That’s awesome, however it looks like an enormous problem.
LEE: Yeah, it’s so much, and there’s additionally plenty of not enjoyable stuff concerned, like legal points and difficult personalities, and things like that, that come with the territory of all of this. But for me, I have an actual want and love for being artistic, and the challenge of this can be a artistic problem. It’s like, how do I create this stuff and move them forward, in a approach that’s both constructive and satisfying, for me personally, as nicely for the legacy itself?
You’ve beforehand talked about how you knew about this remedy that your father had written and that you simply had it in your archives, nevertheless it doesn’t sound like you have been actively pursuing getting it made. Why did it take Justin Lin reaching out to you, to finally get you to take it out of a box and get critical about truly making it?
LEE: This isn’t the only remedy that my father has written, so there have been many prospects. And then, for a long time, we have been rather more in reactive mode. Individuals have been coming to me, on a regular basis, and saying, “Hey, we want to make this project,” and there have been some documentaries that acquired made. We’re a really small outfit, so there’s solely so much bandwidth and focus that we have now. There were elements of the legacy that we additionally needed to focus on. The charitable features have been actually essential to me, in addition to having to get the licensing part of issues up and operating. Manufacturing is only one side of what we do. It took a very long time for me to make headway in leisure production for my father as a result of most individuals view me as anyone that they need to get out of their approach, and not as someone that they should collaborate with. A lot of people need to do stuff with Bruce Lee, but they need to pay me a charge and have me go away, versus being concerned. And so, I feel that the difference with Justin was that he had the power and mojo, or no matter you need to name it, in Hollywood to truly get a undertaking made, which is essential. There are people who say that they will get tasks made, but then they will’t. And he needed me to be involved. He stated, very particularly, “If we can’t do this the right way, then we shouldn’t do it. We should really think about your father’s idea, honor that idea, honor his legacy, create something we really believe in, flesh out this story in the best way possible, get the best possible cast, and all of that. If we can’t try to line up some of those major pieces, then we shouldn’t do it because then it would just be a waste.” And that was music to my ears.
Did you meet with quite a lot of potential showrunners for this, or was it all the time Jonathan Tropper?
LEE: Yeah, we did meet with some other writers and hear some other ideas, however Cinemax was one of the networks that we have been talking to about the potential for this present dwelling there, and Jonathan simply happened to be finishing the final season of Banshee. Cinemax had an exploratory conservation with him, to see if this might be one thing that he can be keen on, and as it turns out, Jonathan is just not solely an enormous Bruce Lee fan, but he’s also a black belt. He’s been a martial artist, for many years. I feel, to him, this was a very thrilling and fun opportunity to get to do one thing with Bruce Lee and fulfill his 14-year-old self, who was an enormous fan and an enormous martial arts fanatic. He was super excited. And so, Jonathan and Justin and I all received together and talked by way of the remedy. Jonathan went away and considered it, and then got here back together with his thoughts and concepts. I keep in mind there was a time limit where we have been having a discussion in Justin’s workplaces concerning the arc of the story, and all the totally different storylines and characters, and I had a type of out of physique moments, the place you stand back and take a look at the room, and I used to be like, “This is really gonna be good. This is exciting. I just have a good feeling about all of this.” It simply was a pure match. He was not only enthusiastic, but had numerous great concepts, and he really obtained what we have been making an attempt to do.
The thought for this collection has been around for 50 years, before finally making its solution to the display. Seeing its evolution from remedy to what it’s now, how has it surpassed your expectations? What are you most pleased with, if you take a look at the finished product of this season?
LEE: As anyone will inform you, and as anyone in all probability is aware of, it’s really arduous to make a show. It’s actually arduous to make any type of venture. There are such a lot of totally different voices involved, and everyone has one of the best of intentions, but typically it works out, and typically it doesn’t. The thing that I’m most pleased with is that the present is mostly a good present. I’m positive critics will decide it apart and say no matter they need, however it’s entertaining, it has a wonderful vary of characters and story, and the action is awesome. There’s nothing like it on TV, with the time interval and the politics. All of it’s really revolutionary. And I feel the truth that we obtained to collaborate and stay true to our imaginative and prescient in the making of it, is fairly phenomenal. There’s been so much pure and natural enthusiasm around the undertaking, from all angles. Brett Chan, our battle choreographer and stunt coordinator, often doesn’t work on tasks of this measurement. He often does a lot greater tasks, however he was so excited about bringing this vision to the display and being involved in it, that he agreed to do it, and our fights are superb due to it. There was so much care put into all the totally different points of the present. I simply assume the truth that we even made this show and that it’s true to what we needed, and that it’s entertaining, is a very huge factor to be pleased with.
Because they’re such an necessary part of the story, is everyone additional essential concerning the battle scenes, particularly the ones which are martial arts based mostly? Do you guys actually ensure that to ensure their authenticity?
LEE: Yes, we did take a whole lot of care with the battle scenes. Every character within the show has a approach that they categorical themselves in preventing. A number of the characters are martial arts specialists, but loads of them aren’t. They’ve weapons. It’s messy. It’s road preventing and brawling. Leary is a western type pugilist of the time. Each character has their signature. Those which might be more martial arts specialists, within that, additionally they every have their very own approach of preventing. Ah Sahm is starting out more as a Wing Chun practitioner. And Li Yong, the Joe Taslim character, has slightly bit more of the Hung Ga fashion to him. There was plenty of care taken in designing this. We needed, from a personality standpoint, to determine how each character would transfer, and we needed to be sure that the action was all the time woven into the lifetime of the story and the characters. It’s not just preventing for preventing’s sake. It’s because there are character conflicts and energy struggles, and all of that. It’s not simply, “Oh, this is an action show, so we have to have cool action.” We actually needed it to be about who the characters are and what the story is. We additionally want it to feel very powerful, impactful, and actual. You are feeling the hits, and they harm. That’s a very Bruce Lee strategy, as properly, in the sense that he needed his combat to not be this highly choreographed, pretty thing. He needed it to really feel like actual combat, in addition to also being entertaining, at the similar time. After which, in fact, we also get to throw in some of those Bruce Lee homages and nods, that are tremendous enjoyable, too.
In creating this from remedy to TV collection, I’m positive there have been plenty of conversations about how the story would evolve and the place this is able to go. Do you are feeling like there’s a great amount of material there? Have you talked about what number of seasons you may want this to go for?
LEE: I don’t assume we’ve stated, “This is definitely gonna be X number of seasons.” We hope we get numerous seasons to discover because there’s loads of material to discover right here. We don’t really understand how far the show will go, but traditionally, there’s rather a lot, when it comes to the Tong Wars, the Chinese Exclusion Act, and the large earthquake and hearth in San Francisco. There’s lots that can be massive set items for the characters and their evolution. I don’t assume we necessarily know, whether it’s 4, or five seasons, or six seasons, but I additionally don’t know that it goes on ceaselessly. It’s a difficult thing, doing a show, because there’s undoubtedly an arc that we would like our characters to go on, and if you don’t understand how a lot time you must inform the story, you must make loads of selections about how shortly or how slowly you need to build these totally different arcs. But our objective is to all the time to try to play inside the realm that we’re in. We’ve numerous Previous West tropes and Kung Fu movie tropes, and issues that we will play with, however on the similar time, we need to subvert the expectations. We would like our characters to be wealthy, deep, absolutely human and flawed, but in addition highly effective, in their very own proper. There’s quite a bit to play with right here, I hope we get the time to actually explore it.