Warrior: Bruce Lee’s Vision 50 Years Later

Warrior Cinemax

(Photos by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for Cinemax)

“Bruce Lee was always rising up to fight injustice,” says Young Guru, a Grammy nominated engineer behind the careers of music elites. “Hip-hop was starting with nothing and believing, if I devote myself and train for hours, I could become something. The love for Kung Fu in Hip-Hop comes from seeing those parallels,” he added.


Sway, host of Sway in The Morning, grew up in the Bay Area not far from Bruce Lee. “We used to go where he lived to practice all his moves. My freestyle segment, 5 Fingers of Death, is named after a Bruce Lee film,” he shared with the crowd.


Lee’s devotion and will to succeed was immediately adapted into the hip-hop community. The Wu Tang Clan’s debut album, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) was named in honor of Lee’s last film, Enter the Dragon (1973), before his tragic death.

 sway and shannon

(Sway and Shannon Lee)

Today, Shannon Lee, Bruce Lee’s daughter and president of the Bruce Lee Foundation, continues to share her father’s legacy by bringing Warrior, a ten-episode season to Cinemax. The action-drama series, created and executive produced by Johnathan Tropper and Justin Lin, is an adaptation of a treatment Bruce Lee had written over 50 years ago.


Shannon Lee recalled how her mother sent her the treatment while clearing out her father’s estate. “At the time I couldn’t do anything with the treatment- cut to fifteen years later, I get a call from Justin Lin and he asked if the rumor about it existing was true.”


A Brooklyn warehouse played home to an early screening of the first episode. Chinese lanterns dangled throughout the venue, casting a soft red hue over the room. Chefs tossed fistfuls of dumplings in oversized woks creating an echoing hiss. Shadows from raised chopsticks were projected onto original artwork that adorned the walls.


The night was a celebration of Chinese culture, something Bruce Lee was once told by studio executives would not be embraced by an American audience.


Set in 1878, Warrior follows the story of Ah Sham (Andrew Koji), a Kung Fu prodigy, who emigrates from China to San Francisco and finds himself immersed in the Tong Wars. Sham is accosted by an angry mob as he disembarks the boat. A fight ensues between Sham and a group of police officers. There are many scenes in this episode that speak to the inequities among immigrants.


Bruce Lee once said, “I have made up my mind. I’m going to show the West an authentic portrayal of my culture.” After the screening, an emotional Shannon Lee expressed how much this moment meant to her, “It has been a dream come true for me to do this for my father,” she shared.


Much like hip-hop artists who communicate authentic experiences, Shannon is doing the same to tell the story her father spent his life trying to tell.

Warrior debuts this friday 4/5 on Cinemax