Wu-Tang Clan leader and multihyphenate artist Robert “RZA” Diggs explores his career-long fascination with martial arts in “Black Samurai,” a new action-drama series that Starz just acquired for development.
Deadline reported yesterday (August 22) that the premium cable network, which airs the Black thespian-led shows “Power” and “Survivor’s Remorse,” picked up “Black Samurai” nearly a year after its initial creation. The series adapts Marc Olden’s 1974 novel of the same name, the first of several that follow the vengeance-filled travels of U.S. Army Ranger Robert Sand. Sand meets a Japanese martial arts master, who trains him in the samurai warrior tradition. The master’s slaughter at the hands of mercenaries leads Sand on an action-packed quest for justice and self-understanding. Olden’s novel was previously adapted into “Black Samurai,” a 1977 Blaxploitation film starring martial artist Jim Kelly (“Enter the Dragon”) as Sand.
RZA’s Wu Films created the project in partnership with fellow rapper and actor Lonnie Rashid “Common” Lynn’s Freedom Road Productions and Jerry Bruckheimer’s (“Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise) namesake television company. All three will executive produce alongside the RZA’s brother, Mitchell Diggs, and Andre Gaines (“Brazilian Western).” Husband-and-wife screenwriting team Marianne and Cormac Wibberley (“National Treasure” franchise) will showrun and co-write the pilot episode.
The producers described the project to Deadline as “a mash-up of the spy and martial arts genres infused with the heart, soul and music of Common and the Wu-Tang Clan, creating a modern-day international action star.”
That star will be Common, who reprises Kelly’s role for the 21st century. “It’s an honor to play the character of Robert Sand and to have my production company, Freedom Road Productions partnering with Jerry Bruckheimer Productions, RZA and Starz to deliver something fresh and new to people,” he told Deadline. “I can’t wait to dig into this character and the martial arts worlds of gun-fu, kung-fu, jujitsu and more. Look out world, ‘Black Samurai’ is coming!”
No word yet on a premiere date or other cast members.