February 2, 2020 (NYC)-“Warrior” is the Bruce Lee inspired, Shannon Lee produced martial arts action series, which premiered on Cinemax in 2019. The show was met with critical success and admiration from the martial arts community. Despite consistent discussion of low viewership, the show released its second season in 2020. By all accounts, critics found this season to be more noteworthy, as the show delved deeper into the characters’ humanity, and the action significantly intensified. In the season finale viewers were left with numerous potential storylines and many unanswered questions.
Under normal circumstances, Warrior, was ripe for the production of a 3rd season; however, Cinemax announced in 2020 that they were halting production on all independently produced properties, including Warrior. Much like YouTube Premium‘s approach to Cobra Kai, Cinemax’s parent company found the cost of managing the production of independent programming, exacerbated by the Global Pandemic’s contact restrictions, to be an insurmountable hurdle.
With Cobra Kai, Netflix saved the day by purchasing the property, and committing to future installments. Their visibility helped to propel the program from being a well received niche’, guilty pleasure to a worldwide phenomena. Will Warrior have a similar storybook ending, or will it be relegated to the vault of speculative programs where die-hard viewers wonder “what could have been“.
The answer to that question lies with the success and the response of the subscribers of the new HBO Max streaming platform. It is my expectation that Warrior, Season 3, will not see the light of day.
While the show contains high quality acting, martial arts action, and historical fiction it has three things working against it. The first is that while the show has been exposed to a larger audience through HBO Max, by all measures, it does not appear to have built enough of a vocal fanbase to drive the momentum to force the hand of any production house to commence the enormous undertaking of picking up where Ash Sam and the Hop Wei left off in the Season Finale.
Secondly, unlike Cobra Kai, Warrior is an hourly historical work with a large cast, detailed sets, and numerous extras. The detailed sets, costumes, and crowds are all as much a part of the show as the stars. In other words, to do Warrior well will require a commitment of significantly more capital than is needed to film a contemporary high school show with a limited cast. The decision to commit to Warrior Season 3 (and more) is a big financial investment and a big financial risk.
Thirdly, there seems to be no upside to HBO Max in commiting to the project; however, passing on it in favor of Netflix, or Amazon Prime, (if there was interest) would be handing their competition a winning property-something they would be unlikely to do. When YouTube sold Cobra Kai to Netflix it, ostensibly, did nothing to harm its position as a streaming service because it was extricating itself from the market and focusing on what it does best-viewer created content . This is not the same scenario with HBO Max. They have marched into the streaming sector with a “take no prisoners” approach. Their “Same Day as it is Released in Theaters” promotion is an indication they are looking to conquer market share, and quickly. There, simply is no upside to selling it.
Therefore, while “Warrior” was a noble, enjoyable, and authentic attempt to bring Bruce Lee’s vision to life, it seems, sadly, that it will not even have the distinction of surviving for more seasons than David Carradine’s “Kung-Fu“, which was also based on this same treatment.