The Netflix Action Series Created By A Martial Arts Legend

By Brian Myers | Published

  • Warrior is based on the writings of Bruce Lee.
  • Before becoming a hit on Netflix, Warrior was on Cinemax and then Max.
  • Bruce Lee’s daughter is involved behind the scenes of Warrior.
  • Warrior follows a martial artist in San Francisco in the 1870s.

For three seasons, the martial arts action/drama Warrior has been a hit among fans. With the recent release of all episodes on Netflix, no doubt a new grouping of followers will soon become engaged in a series that is based on a concept developed more than 50 years ago by the late Bruce Lee.

Warrior Brings Martial Arts To The 19th Century

Warrior follows a young martial arts expert who recently migrated to San Francisco in the 1870s. Ah Sahm is fervently searching for his sister, but his quest to find her is complicated by turf wars between rival Chinese Tong gangs. Ah Sahm soon discovers that his elder sister is married to the head of one of these warring factions, steering the course for the series.

An Intricate Web Of Alliances And Betrayals

Ah Sahm’s lethal skills in Warrior as a martial artist are recognized by the leader of a Tong. He soon finds himself playing the part of an assassin, putting his hands and feet to great use for his new employers. Episode after episode is crafted from complex storylines that are equally masterful with the level of action they put onto the screen.

An Emmy-Winning Series

Warrior stars Andrew Kohi as Ah Sahm, Olivia Cheng as Ah Toy, Jason Tobin as Young Jun, and Dianne Doan in the role of Mai Ling. Over its three seasons, Warrior has received positive critical reception that has culminated in two Primetime Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Stunt Coordination and Outstanding Main Title Design.

Developed By Bruce Lee 50 Years Ago

Though a relatively new series on streaming services, Warrior is based on a concept that was developed by the late Bruce Lee nearly 50 years ago. His daughter, Shannon Lee, began a collaboration with film director and co-producer Justin Lin in 2015 that brought the vision of the late martial arts legend to life. The series began filming at Cape Town Film Studios in Cape Town, South Africa in the fall of 2017 and made its streaming debut on April 5, 2019.

Bruce Lee And Kung Fu

Lee’s original vision for a series wasn’t titled Warrior, but was instead named after the main character, Ah Sahm, and followed the adventures of a trained martial artist in the American Old West. If this sounds familiar, it’s because that same concept was adopted by Warner Bros. Television in 1972, which produced a show called Kung Fu. Warner Bros. insists that they had already had this series in mind when they were approached by Lee, though Lee’s widow stated after Lee’s death that the idea certainly was her late husband’s, and also purported that Lee was passed over for the lead in Kung Fu due to his accent.

Dispute Over The History Of David Carradine’s Kung Fu

Ultimately, David Carradine was selected for the lead role of Kwai Chang Caine. While there are still some disputes over whether or not the production giant stole the idea from Lee, Matthew Polly’s biography of Lee explicitly states that Lee was not behind the idea for Kung Fu and that he wasn’t even aware of the project until several months after ABC had announced the series in 1971. But no matter what the truth is regarding the network series, there’s no doubt that Lee at least had a quite similar idea in mind which is what eventually paved the way for Warrior.

Warrior Has Bounced Around Streaming Services

The hit series was originally aired on Cinemax, with the second season following suit in the fall of 2020 on the same service. Season 3 began airing in June 2023 on Max, where it looks to stay. In February 2024, all 30 episodes of Warrior across three seasons were made available to stream on Netflix.