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Warrior’s Journey  from Cinemax to HBO Max to Netflix

Monday 02/19/2024  by Lars Hindsley — Warrior first premiered on Cinemax in April 2019. Yet, it actually originated in the 1970s. If you like to deep dive stories once you become interested, then this article is for you. 

Where Warrior – The Warrior Began

Warrior was inspired by an original concept and treatment by the legendary martial artist and actor Bruce Lee. It’s noteworthy Lee had envisioned this story decades ago but was unable to produce during his lifetime. Bruce Lee’s vision for a television show featuring martial arts and exploring Asian culture and philosophy in the American Old West was a precursor to the creation of the TV series Kung Fu, which aired in the early 1970s. Be careful, Kung Fu came about because of Bruce Lee. His treatment was for The Warrior

Many believe Bruce Lee’s idea for a television show called The Warrior (not to be confused with the aforementioned series Warrior that was inspired by his concept and premiered on Cinemax in 2019) became the show Kung Fu (1972-1975). In fact Lee’s original concept was similar as it centered around a martial artist in the American Old West. 

It was the early 70s when Bruce Lee pitched his idea to Warner Bros. and Paramount. Lee envisioned a series as a vehicle for himself to star in. One which would also introduce Eastern philosophies to Western audiences, at a time when such themes were relatively novel in American entertainment. Again, his idea was The Warrior, not Kung Fu. A short timeline of events confuses the evidence for some as to how much of Lee’s impact had on Kung Fu‘s creation.

To understand where The Warrior fits into this story, an account of Kung Fu is an important foundation. 

Kung Fu

Kung Fu aired on ABC from 1972 to 1975. Sadly, instead of casting Bruce Lee, the producers chose David Carradine due to their ongoing misconception that white American’s wouldn’t accept an Asian hero. What is absurd is a Caucasian actor with no significant martial arts experience at the time was cast to play the lead role of Kwai Chang Caine, a Shaolin monk and martial artist traveling through the American Old West. Hollywood executives reasoned a white person playing an Asian would be accepted. Viewers did enjoy the show, but to ask anyone from that time, they will tell you they would have gladly accepted an Asian portraying an Asian — as a hero. In retrospect, we lost Bruce Lee suddenly and we could have had more of him throughout time had he been selected to star in Kung Fu

A long time enthusiast of martial arts and cinema, Ed Spielman is responsible for Kung Fu. He conceived the idea of an exiled Shaolin monk traveling the old west. Some say he had Bruce Lee in mind. ABC network loved the concept and searched for an actor to play the lead. They justified not going with Bruce Lee with a good argument. The character of the Shaolin monk is subdued, thoughtful and avoids conflict. Bruce Lee’s entire demeanor on and off screen isn’t exactly diametrical but it didn’t align. If anything truly seemed a reasonable point in not going with Bruce Lee, it would be his accent. Feedback from executives over time insist this was the biggest reason for not casting him. Looking back, his accent would take some getting used to over time. It would have added charm to reminiscing him on screen.

The 1970s was culturally a time of big transition for America. Mixed generations openly debated values, both had different views of tolerance and understanding. America had one foot in the past and one in the future. Casting roles in Hollywood wasn’t immune to this. Despite controversy over casting Carradine, the show was successful and built a following.  Kung Fu and Bruce Lee brought on overwhelming interest in martial arts. It even resulted in the hit song, Kung Fu Fighting. The show Kung Fu  left behind the catch phrase, “Grasshopper may not leave temple” as means of telling someone they have a lot to learn. Game of Thrones had a similar catch phrase with “You know nothing John Snow.” 

Don’t cry too hard for Bruce Lee. Hollywood knew his value. About a month before Kung Fu aired, executives offered Lee a deal to develop a separate TV program.  Lee to produce another TV show with a strikingly similar premise. Primarily due to Bruce Lee’s concept following the exposure of Ed Spielman’s screenplay. Bruce Lee’s concept shared setting and character make-up. It too was set in the old west with an Asian martial artist named Ah Sahm (full Chinese – not half). Ah Sahm would be a ronin warrior, not a pacifist monk. Lee was a big proponent of ancient philosophy. If you research Bruce Lee’s history, you’ll find a good deal of his characters revolve around being involved in Shaolin philosophy and lone travelers. 

Cinemax Honors The Warrior with Warrior in 2019 & 2020

Cinemax series Warrior, sought to honor Bruce Lee’s legacy by bringing his original concept to life with Lee’s daughter (Shannon Lee) serving as a show producer. If you truly want to deep dive the subject, consider reading Matthew Polly’s Bruce Lee: A Life. Meanwhile many of Warrior’s characters were loosely based on historical figures.

Warrior combines action with historical drama, exploring the complex politics, criminal underworld, and social tensions of 1870s Tong Wars in San Francisco. Lee’s concept left showrunners to lean on historical models:

  1. Dylan Leary (Fictional Character)
    Historical Counterpart: Denis Kearney

    Denis Kearney was an Irish immigrant and labor leader in California, known for his fiery rhetoric and leadership of the Workingmen’s Party of California in the late 1870s. Kearney was notorious for his anti-Chinese sentiment, often encapsulated in his rallying cry, “The Chinese must go!”

  2. Ah Toy (Fictional Character)
    Historical Counterpart: Ah Toy

    The historical Ah Toy arrived in San Francisco from China in the early 1850s and became one of the city’s most notorious and wealthy madams. She started as a prostitute but quickly rose to own multiple brothels, leveraging her intelligence and ruthlessness to navigate and influence the predominantly male-dominated society of the Gold Rush era.

  3. Nellie Davenport (Fictional Character)
    Historical Counterpart: Donaldina Cameron

    Donaldina Cameron was a pioneering advocate for the rights of Chinese immigrant women and girls in San Francisco, particularly those forced into prostitution or slavery. Working at the turn of the 20th century, Cameron was instrumental in rescuing many from sex trafficking and providing them with shelter, education, and a chance for a new life. Her efforts were centered around the Mission Home, which served as a refuge for these women.

  4. Deputy Mayor Walter Buckley (Fictional Character)
    Historical Counterpart: Christopher Augustine Buckley

    Christopher Augustine Buckley, known as the “Blind Boss,” was a powerful political figure in San Francisco during the late 19th century. As a leader of the Democratic Party in California, Buckley wielded considerable influence through patronage and control over the city’s political machine. His tenure was marked by both the advancement of public works and widespread corruption.

After its initial run on Cinemax, Warrior was renewed for a second season, which aired in 2020. The show received positive reviews from critics and audiences alike for its compelling narrative, action scenes, and production values. Following the cessation of original programming by Cinemax, there was a strong fan campaign for the show’s continuation with approximately 68,000 names on a petition. This and other factors led to the announcement that Warrior would be moving to HBO Max for its third season, highlighting the show’s success and the enduring legacy of Bruce Lee’s creative vision.

HBO Max Season 3 to Netflix 

Warrior‘s new life spawned in April of 2021 when HBO Max announced they were picking up season 3. Two years later in June of 2023, fans were rewarded with their campaign to bring the show back. As a result of the streaming wars, HBO Max was rebranded as Max. In the time HBO Max prepared to combine content with Discovery, many shows were abruptly cancelled and to improve income, Warner Bros. reverted to licensing out content rather than keeping it inhouse. Warrior got the double-whammy. It was both cancelled and most recently licensed to Netflix in December of 2023 and premiered in February of 2024. A whisper campaign on social media immediately begun with word that if enough people watched it on Netflix a season 4 may come about. It’s safe to say, season 3 will leave loose ends untied. But at long last, Bruce Lee’s vision did finally see the light of day. 

You can currently watch Warrior on Max or Netflix. As of February 2024, you may opt for Max for commercial free viewing.

Umbrella Academy Ends

Friday02/16/2024  by Lars Hindsley — The show runners of Umbrella Academy have decided it’s time to end it. Umbrella Academy will air Season 4 in October of 2024, and it will be the final season. When it first aired in February of 2019, the blend of dark comedy and drama with a superhero slant was an immediate hit. Based on the comic book series of the same name by Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá, the show introduced us to a dysfunctional family of adopted sibling superheroes who reunite to solve the mystery of their father’s death and the threat of an impending apocalypse. Netflix continued the saga with Season 2, released on July 31st 2020, and Season 3, June 22nd of 2022 which further expanded the narrative and explored new dimensions of the characters’ complex relationships and powers.

The Umbrella Academy cast gathered around a bellboy luggage carrier, symbolizing their collective journey and the adventures that await

Baggage Claim: The Hargreeves siblings unite around a symbol of their travels – both through time and family dynamics in Season 4 of The Umbrella Academy.

Created by Steve Blackman and developed by Jeremy Slater for Netflix, “The Umbrella Academy” diverges from its original comic book source material in several key aspects, making it a unique entity in its own right as it developed characters’ backstories and introduced new elements. Where it ends in season 4 will be it’s something unique from the comic book source material for sure. 

 

Viewers Are Hate-Watching Deep Fear:  Jumping the Cocaine Shark

Friday02/09/2024  by Lars Hindsley — Only on Netflix can you get a film with an astoundingly low 12% audience score (and dropping) on Rotten Tomatoes and jump to #6 in movies. Welcome to the age of hate-watching. 

With the novelty success of Cocaine Bear (2023), we all knew we’d be getting a steady diet of  drug induced animal attack movies. However, Hollywood somehow cranked out Deep Fear inside the same calendar year as Cocaine Bear. Make no mistake, Deep Fear could just as easily been named Cocaine Shark, as the premise of this film is in fact a shark that somehow sniff’s cocaine under salt water. And don’t we all know how much fun and laughter sharks bring into our lives? That’s sarcasm, if it wasn’t at all clear. 

 

 

Set in the Caribbean and shot in Malta, this low budget survival horror flick is being absolutely savaged in reviews with a sub-teens Rotten Tomato rating. Yet the word has gotten out that the film is so badly written that it rivals some of the bad dialogue of the now infamous The Room by Tommy Wiseau. Unfortunately for viewers, where Cocaine Bear is more of a Horror Comedy that doesn’t take itself too seriously, Deep Fear has ended up simple pissing off viewers who either think it may be another fun horror comedy romp, or even perhaps a laughable disaster. It’s neither. But let’s face it. You’re going to watch it to find out for yourself. You’ve been warned.

Netflix’s Last Airbender Aims To Deliver for New Viewers and Long Time Fans

Tuesday02/06/2024  by Lars Hindsley — Netflix’s highly anticipated live-action adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender is set to premiere on February 22, 2024, promising to bring a new level of representation and depth to the beloved story. Showrunner Albert Kim emphasized the opportunity to present Asian and Indigenous characters with respect to the culture, however from what can be seen in the trailers, the landscape and characterizations seem no different than Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. The Wuxia genre style is not a bad thing, but in the face of it, his words come off more as ‘woke-service’ than virtuous. 

The original Nickelodeon series, acclaimed for its mature themes and cultural depth, follows the journey of Aang, the latest Avatar capable of bending all four elements, as he awakens from a century-long slumber to end a devastating war initiated by the Fire Nation. With the help of his friends Katara and Sokka, and the loyal Appa, Aang embarks on a quest to master the elements and bring peace to the world.

The lore of Avatar: The Last Airbender is rich with themes of friendship, courage, redemption, and the struggle between good and evil, set in a world where people can bend the elements of water, earth, fire, and air. This live-action series presents an opportunity to explore these themes in new depths, with the potential for more nuanced storytelling and character development that live-action allows. The prospect of seeing the bending elements brought to life with modern special effects is thrilling, offering a chance to see the magic of the Avatar world in a way we’ve never seen before.

While details about the series, including its release date (February 22, 2024) have been eagerly awaited, anticipation built after the official trailer dropped on January 23, showcasing the main characters and the elemental bending that defines the Avatar world.

The trailer gives fans a glimpse of the action and drama to expect, featuring Gordon Cormier as Aang, Kiawentiio as Katara, Ian Ousley as Sokka, and Dallas Liu as Zuko, among others. with every piece of news and new trailers. For fans eager to catch a glimpse of the world being recreated, staying tuned to Netflix’s official channels and reputable entertainment news sources will be key to catching the first look at the live-action series.

The cast also includes Daniel Dae Kim as Fire Lord Ozai, Paul Sun-Hyung as Uncle Iroh, and Elizabeth Yu as Princess Azula, highlighting the depth of talent involved in bringing this intricate world to life. The adaptation aims to faithfully capture the essence of the original series while exploring the characters and their journeys with renewed depth and realism.

Despite the departure of original creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko over creative differences, the project has moved forward with a commitment to authenticity and quality, under the guidance of Albert Kim and a team of executive producers and directors dedicated to honoring the source material.

Hope for Netflix’s “Avatar: The Last Airbender” is not just for a faithful adaptation of the story we know and love but for a series that expands on the original, exploring characters and stories with new depth and bringing the world of Avatar to life in a way that resonates with both long-time fans and newcomers alike. The journey to bring Aang and his friends to the live-action screen is fraught with high expectations, but it’s a journey I’m hopeful and excited to see unfold.

Pop Culture Press News 2024

Pop Culture Press