TONG WARS DRAMA SERIES “WARRIOR,” BASED ON THE WRITINGS OF MARTIAL ARTS LEGEND BRUCE LEE, DEBUTS APRIL 5 ON CINEMAX
The drama series WARRIOR begins its ten-episode season FRIDAY, APRIL 5 (10:00-11:00 p.m. ET/PT), exclusively on CINEMAX. Filmed in Cape Town, South Africa, the show is based on the writings of martial arts legend Bruce Lee and is created and executive produced by Jonathan Tropper (CINEMAX’s “Banshee”) under Tropper Ink Productions, executive produced by Justin Lin (director of “Fast & Furious 6”) for Perfect Storm Entertainment and executive produced by Shannon Lee for Bruce Lee Entertainment.
Starring Andrew Koji (“Fast & Furious 6”) as martial arts prodigy Ah Sahm, WARRIOR also features series regulars Kieran Bew (“The Street”), Olivia Cheng (“Marco Polo”), Dianne Doan (“Vikings”), Dean Jagger (HBO’s “Game of Thrones”), Langley Kirkwood (“Invictus”), Hoon Lee (CINEMAX’s “Banshee”), Christian McKay (“Me and Orson Welles”), Joe Taslim (“Fast & Furious 6”), Jason Tobin (“The Fast & the Furious: Tokyo Drift”), Joanna Vanderham (“The Paradise”), Tom Weston-Jones (“Copper”) and Perry Yung (CINEMAX’s “The Knick”).
WARRIOR is a gritty, action-packed crime drama set during the brutal Tong Wars of San Francisco’s Chinatown in the second half of the 19th century. The series follows Ah Sahm (Andrew Koji), a martial arts prodigy who emigrates from China to San Francisco under mysterious circumstances. After proving his worth as a fighter, Ah Sahm becomes a hatchet man for the Hope Wei, one of Chinatown’s most powerful tongs (Chinese organized crime family).
Befriended by Wang Chao (Hoon Lee), a fixer and profiteer in Chinatown, Ah Sahm is taken under the wing of Young Jun (Jason Tobin), the hard-partying son of the Hop Wei’s leader, Father Jun (Perry Yung), who is facing an imminent opium war with a rival tong. As he is indoctrinated in the rules of Chinatown gangs, Ah Sahm wins the confidence of a canny brothel madam, Ah Toy (Olivia Cheng), revealing to her the true intentions of his journey to America.
Over the course of the season, Ah Sahm crosses boundaries inside and outside Chinatown, bringing him into contact with tong rivals Mai Ling (Dianne Doan), a beautiful and ruthless Chinese woman who has achieved a position of power in one of the tongs, and Li Yong (Joe Taslim), a tong lieutenant and Gung Fu master. As violence erupts, Sergeant “Big Bill” O’Hara (Kieran Bew) and Richard Henry Lee (Tom Weston-Jones), a transplanted southerner and rookie cop, are tasked with forming a Chinatown squad.
Meanwhile, working-class leader and tough Irishman Dylan Leary (Dean Jagger) is fighting for all Irish laborers by trying to inflict as much damage as possible on the Chinese immigrants he says are stealing their jobs. Amidst the strife, power-hungry San Francisco Mayor Samuel Blake (Christian McKay) and Deputy Mayor Walter Buckley (Langley Kirkwood), who has his own political aspirations, engage in widespread corruption, while the mayor’s young wife, Penny (Joanna Vanderham), finds herself trapped in a loveless marriage. #WarriorMAX
Episode 1: “The Itchy Onion”
Debut date: FRIDAY, APRIL 5 (10:00-11:00 p.m. ET/PT)
San Francisco, 1878. Ah Sahm (Andrew Koji), a newly arrived Chinese immigrant with serious fighting skills, is introduced to Chinatown’s most ruthless tong, the Hop Wei, by Chao (Hoon Lee), a fixer. After impressing Young Jun (Jason Tobin), son of tong leader Father Jun (Perry Yung), Ah Sahm is branded and taken to a brothel, where he befriends Ah Toy (Olivia Cheng), a courtesan with connections.
Later, in search of a woman who left China two years earlier, Ah Sahm crosses paths with Mai Ling (Dianne Doan) and Li Yong (Joe Taslim), followers of the rival tong leader Long Zii (Henry Yuk), who is trying to avoid an opium war with the Hop We – a war that Walter Buckley (Langley Kirkwood), deputy to San Francisco Mayor Samuel Blake (Christian McKay), actively promotes. Meanwhile, after two Chinese laborers are killed by white thugs, police sergeant “Big Bill” O’Hara (Kieran Bew) is tasked with creating a Chinatown squad. Enlisting southern-born cop Richard Henry Lee (Tom Weston-Jones), Bill soon finds that the hostility between the Chinese and white dock workers, whose unofficial leader is Irish tough Dylan Leary (Dean Jagger), is unlikely to end anytime soon.
Written by Jonathan Tropper; directed by Assaf Bernstein.
Episode 2: “There’s No China in the Bible”
Debut date: FRIDAY, APRIL 12 (10:00-11:00 p.m.)
Intercepting a shipment of opium at the docks, Young Jun (Jason Tobin), with Ah Sahm (Andrew Koji) and his Hop Wei lieutenant Bolo (Rich Ting) in tow, decides to send a message to Long Zii (Henry Yuk). Big Bill (Kieran Bew) and Lee (Tom Weston-Jones) investigate a grisly murder scene in an alley next to an Irish bar, The Banshee. Penny Blake (Joanna Vanderham), the young wife of San Francisco’s mayor (Christian McKay), finds herself in a bind while visiting the wharf with her Chinese manservant, Jacob (Kenneth Fok). Ah Sahm pays a steep price for playing the hero. The Long Zii clean up a mess, and brace for more bloodshed.
Written by Jonathan Tropper; directed by Loni Peristere.
Episode 3: “John Chinaman”
Debut date: FRIDAY, APRIL 19 (10:00-11:00 p.m.)
Leary (Dean Jagger) pressures gentleman industrialist Byron Mercer (Graham Hopkins), who is Penny’s father, to hire his men for a cable-car track job – despite the fact that Mayor Blake (Christian McKay) hasn’t yet awarded Mercer the contract. Accused of assault and perhaps worse, Ah Sahm (Andrew Koji) gets a cold shoulder from the Hop Wei, with his fate in the hands of an unexpected ally. Buckley (Langley Kirkwood) urges Mai Ling (Dianne Doan) to eschew restraint and start a war with the Hop Wei.
Written by Adam Targum; directed by Loni Peristere.
Episode 4: “The White Mountain”
Debut date: FRIDAY, APRIL 26 (10:00-11:00 p.m.)
Big Bill (Kieran Bew) finds himself compromised by his gambling excesses, but discovers a possible solution after an opium-den raid. Penny (Joanna Vanderham) reveals the circumstances that prompted her to marry Mayor Blake (Christian McKay), who’s determined to show voters he won’t tolerate San Francisco’s “Yellow Peril.” After meeting with leaders of the Fung Hai tong, Mai Ling (Dianne Doan) offers Ah Sahm (Andrew Koji) a way out of a protracted – and bloody – tong war.
Written by Kenneth Lin; directed by David Petrarca.
WARRIOR is produced for CINEMAX by Perfect Storm Entertainment, Tropper Ink Productions and Bruce Lee Entertainment; created and executive produced by Jonathan Tropper. Justin Lin and Danielle Woodrow executive produce on behalf of Perfect Storm Entertainment. Shannon Lee executive produces for Bruce Lee Entertainment. Executive produced by Brad Kane and co-executive produced by Richard Sharkey. The pilot was directed and executive produced by Assaf Bernstein.