Photo by: David Christopher Lee
We caught up with actor Chen Tang who can be seen playing Hong in the Max series Warrior, from Bruce Lee Entertainment and Jonathan Tropper (Banshee). Season 3 recently premiered on June 29th with the first 3 episodes and is based on the writings of martial arts legend Bruce Lee. Inspired by a true story of race relations and crime during the Tong Wars in the late 1800s, the series follows a martial arts prodigy who ends up being a hatchet man for the most powerful tong in Chinatown, San Francisco.
The large ensemble cast also includes Andrew Koji (Snake Eyes), Olivia Cheng (Marco Polo), Jason Tobin (Jasmine), Dianne Doan (The Consultant), Kieran Bew (Beowulf: Return to the Shieldlands), Dean Jagger (See), Tom Weston-Jones (Copper), Joe Taslim (Mortal Kombat), Hoon Lee (Banshee), Joanna Vanderham (DC’s Legends of Tomorrow), Langley Kirkwood (Banshee), Perry Yung (Snakehead), Dustin Nguyen (Blade of the 47 Ronin), Christian McKay (Frontier), Miranda Raison (Sister Boniface Mysteries), Céline Buckens (Free Rein), Mark Dacascos (Knights of the Zodiac), Maria-Elena Laas (Vida), and Chelsea Muirhead (Slo Pitch).
We asked Chen about what viewers can expect from the third season of Warrior and his character, the physical training required for the role, and the important history behind the series. Check out our conversation below.
What can we expect from the third season of Warrior?
Chen Tang (CT): Bigger, deeper, more intense storylines, especially in the realm of relationships. I’m especially excited for audiences to see familiar faces going through new struggles with new people in their lives. Old ideas and ways of doing things will be challenged, and everybody grows a lot throughout the season. You know what they say: we get hurt by the ones we love the most.
How would you describe your character, Hong? Do you have a better understanding of him now going into season 3?
CT: I would describe him as a stray dog who had to grow up fighting for survival on the streets – if that dog was a golden retriever. He learned to be vicious, but deep down there’s a sweetness that’s always been there. I think coming into this new season, Hong is starting to see America as it truly is. In season 2, Hong has a wide-eyed optimism for America, and everything was new. But after the riot at the end of season 2, I think the veil has been pulled back. That optimism is still there (I think it’s just his survival mechanism and just part of who he is), but old traumas will get triggered in him that reveal something deeper. I also realized about halfway into shooting season 3 that maybe Hong’s worldview was actually very narrow his whole life. And that would make sense, considering that China and life in a gang was all he really ever knew. And I’m so excited for audiences to see that narrow worldview exploded – often by force and against his will.
What can you tell us about your preparation and training process for the series? How does it compare to some of your past projects?
CT: It was definitely the most intense training physically I’ve ever done for any project in my career. Before the season started, I did several months worth of martial arts training, physical fitness, stretching and mobility, and worked extensively with my chain weapon to get my body in fighting shape. And then when the season started, we trained or rehearsed fight scenes pretty much every day, and were doing our best to recover on our days off. Felt like a pro athlete’s life at some points.
What were some aspects that initially made you want to be part of Warrior?
CT: I loved the fact that I was joining such a rich web of stories. Each character was so interesting to me, and everybody had a purpose for the story. I was also thrilled that they decided to do a whole series based on a very under-taught part of America’s history, and was such a beautiful representation of our Asian American history and culture as well. And of course, like many people, I grew up admiring Bruce Lee. He was my hero; to be a part of his legacy… that’s a dream come true.
The series has multiple layers to it including martial arts, drama, representation, historical context; what are you hoping people take away when they watch Warrior?
CT: Besides being entertained, I hope people take away from it a deeper appreciation for the actual lives of the Chinese immigrants during that period of American history. It’s usually a footnote in the annals of United States history, but so much of our show is based on the actual, human experiences of the people during that time. I hope people actually come to appreciate that many of the story plots of our show – though stylized and dramatized – were based on actual historical events, and maybe that will help them reflect on and have compassion for real issues that we as a nation are still facing.
A new episode of Warrior drops Thursdays on Max.
Follow Chen Tang: Instagram