Cape Town plays 19th century US in martial arts TV series

A Bruce Lee-inspired series is kicking Cape Town’s economy into a higher gear.US cable and satellite television network Cinemax is filming the new 10-part series “Warrior” in the Mother City‚ said the Western Cape’s investment promotion agency‚ Wesgro. 

The cast of “Warrior” includes Andrew Koji as Ah Sahm, a martial arts prodigy who travels from China to San Francisco and ends up becoming a hatchet man for the most powerful tong in Chinatown; and Olivia Cheng as Ah Toy, Chinatown’s most accomplished courtesan and madame. Pictures: Cinemax))

Wesgro CEO Tim Harris said on Thursday: “We are very excited about the decision by Cinemax to film their new series in Cape Town.”

He said the 21-week shoot would create 250 local crew jobs and require 6‚500 extras. Stars of the series include Cape Town actors Langley Kirkwood‚ who plays Walter Buckley‚ a Civil War veteran and deputy mayor with political aspirations; and Robert Hobbs‚ who plays a police constable.

The series‚ inspired by an idea from legendary martial artist Bruce Lee‚ is set against the backdrop of San Francisco’s Chinatown in the aftermath of the US Civil War in the late 19th century. It tells the story of a martial arts prodigy — played by “Fast & Furious 6” star Andrew Koji — who finds himself caught up in the bloody Tong wars.

Kary Antholis‚ president of Cinemax Programming‚ said Warrior would offer “high-end action-packed drama with great characters”.

She added: “The combination of a fun martial-arts show which leans into Asian characters that are developed with great depth is a very unique combination in my experience with the TV landscape.”

“Warrior” will join “Invictus”‚ “Blood Diamond” and “Mad Max: Fury Road” as the latest high-profile project to be shot in the city.

Economic opportunities MEC Alan Winde said the production‚ “showcases the economic value of the film industry‚ creating jobs for 250 residents”.

He added: “We know that when international productions shoot in the Western Cape‚ our region obtains valuable exposure.”

Winde said the number of filming permits issued in Cape Town had doubled over the past two years.

He attributed the increase to world-class facilities‚ such as the Cape Town Film Studios where “Warrior” is being shot‚ and talented local crew.

No premiere date for Warrior has been set‚ but it is expected to air in late 2018 or early 2019.

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