Cinemax is currently a step below premium competitors HBO and Showtime in terms of its original programming, but the network formerly dubbed Skinemax has admittedly carved out a nice little niche for itself with action-heavy thriller-dramas like Strike Back, Banshee and Hunted. Its next original series, though, may push Cinemax to a level of quality it hasn’t explored previously. Warrior, which the network put into development today, is a crime drama with some big names behind it, including Fast & Furious helmer Justin Lin and martial arts icon Bruce Lee.
Inspired by the writings of the late Enter the Dragon star, Warrior will follow a gifted but morally compromised fighter whose enduring quest for vengeance against those who have wronged him is undermined by a startling discovery that forces him to reconsider his path. Lin is attached to exec-produce and also direct the pilot, as he did previously for CBS series Scorpion and the upcoming second season of HBO’s True Detective. Warrior is scribed by Jonathan Tropper (also exec-producing), the mind behind Banshee, which became Cinemax’s first completely original hit (the network acquired Strike Back from overseas).
Intriguingly, Warrior was first conceptualized by Lee many years ago. The martial arts star spent many years working on the idea but never published or publicized it. Long after Lee’s tragic death at the age of 32, his daughter Shannon unearthed handwritten notes describing Lee’s idea for the series. Collaborating with Perfect Storm Entertainment, Shannon Lee decided to bring the idea to Cinemax, which set Tropper to work on transforming it from pitch to script.
Given Lee’s posthumous involvement in Warrior, it seems like a done deal that Cinemax will order the project to series, so it will be fascinating to see how Lee’s own philosophical interests manifest themselves in the series. Fingers crossed that Cinemax looks to Asian actors for starring roles.