Bruce Lee: new series, lost adventures


by Ed Gross |
Published on

Bruce Lee is kicking his way back from the grave. Like many other creative people who pass away before their time, the late Lee left behind a number of unfinished projects. In this case the subject is Warrior, the pilot for a new Cinemax television series that's being developed by Justin Lin (Fast & Furious, Star Trek Beyond) and Banshee co-creator Jonathan Tropper. The proposed crime drama is based on Lee's handwritten notes discovered by his daughter, Shannon, who will serve as a producer as part of Bruce Lee Entertainment.

According to Deadline, the show will be “set against the backdrop of San Francisco’s Chinatown in the aftermath of the Civil War [and] tells the story of a young martial arts prodigy, newly arrived from China, who finds himself caught up in the bloody Chinatown Tong wars.”

Lee died in 1973 of a cerebral edema. At the time he was wrapping up post-production on his most famous film, Enter The Dragon, and in the midst of directing Game Of Death. The latter was nonetheless finished (despite the loss of Lee) and released in 1978 as a bastardized version of what he had created, though the existing footage, more accurately reflecting his intention, was edited together for the 2000 documentary Bruce Lee: A Warrior’s Journey.

Another of Lee's incomplete projects (developed with James Coburn and Stirling Silliphant) was The Silent Flute, which was ultimately made into the 1978 David Carradine film Circle Of Iron. In their book The Bruce Lee Story, Lee's wife, Linda, and Tom Bleecker wrote of the original version, "The Silent Flute contained many of the themes that reflected Bruce's life and behavior. The script traced a young student's evolution through the martial arts — his problem of ego, his newfound courage in facing the abyss of death and finally his spiritual rebirth. At one point in the script, Bruce says, 'I'm not even sure what trials I passed through or how I came to be here. I still have doubts, many doubts. How, without more struggle, can I resolve them?'"

"What this project started with was thirty pages of the most incredibly esoteric, non-cinematic stuff I've ever read," says Circle Of Iron director Richard Moore. "I don't know how the hell they would have ever expected to make it into a film. What happened is that Stanley Mann was brought in to flesh it out into a 120-page script. What we ended up with was a far cry from what they had conceived. They were going to do the definitive Zen martial arts film, as I recall. You would have had thirty people look at it."

As to the finished product, Moore muses, "It's a goofy little film that sort of fell between the cracks. For kung fu aficionados it was far too esoteric, and for the mainstream audience it was too much chop-sockey. It didn't do too much business, but I had a great deal of fun working on it."

Warrior, one would hope, will fare better.

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