Starz is getting into the samurai game. The premium network announced today that it’s developing an action-drama series under the working title of Black Samurai with Oscar-winner Common starring in the title role; he’ll also executive produce under his Freedom Road Productions banner.
Based on the “Black Samurai” novels written by Marc Olden, the series follows Robert Sand (Common), a highly-trained American Army Ranger whose life is transformed when he meets a legendary Japanese master who invites him to train as a samurai. When his beloved sensei and samurai brothers are killed by mercenaries, Sand is thrust on a worldwide journey of both revenge and self-discovery.
You can expect some updates from both the original novels and the 1977 film since the series will be a mash-up of the spy and martial arts genres, but will also be infused with the heart, soul and music of Common and the Wu-Tang Clan, creating a modern-day international action star. Showrunners Cormac and Marianne Wibberley (National Treasure franchise, Bad Boys II) are also writing the pilot script.
Jerry Bruckheimer, RZA and Mitchell Diggs will also executive produce with Starz’s Vice President of Original Programming Patrick McDonald as the executive in charge of the series.
Here’s what Common had to say about the project:
I’m beyond excited about ‘Black Samurai.’ This is a unique and special project that offers something rarely seen in art and culture today. 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. 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!
I’ve been a fan of the Robert Sand character since I was a kid, ‘Black Samurai’ being one of the films that got me into the martial art genre. A chance to combine with Jerry Bruckheimer, Common and Andre Gaines to reintroduce this character to a new generation makes myself and my partner Mitchell Diggs at Wu Films super stoked. With the Wibbs leading the writing team and Starz as our outlet, I’m certain the series will find its fan base.
Super-producer Bruckheimer weighed in:
We are absolutely thrilled to partner with Starz, Common, RZA and Andre Gaines on ‘Black Samurai. This incredible creative team will combine all of their talents and experience to bring the classic book series to brand new life with cutting edge artistry, music and imagery.
And Carmi Zlotnik, president of programming for Starz, shared in the excitement:
We cannot wait for the world to meet Robert Sand – part Jason Bourne, part James Bond, and 100% the hero we need today. ‘Black Samurai’ promises to be an action-packed ride and with the Bruckheimer team, Common, RZA and Andre at the helm, we can feel certain this will be exceptional storytelling.
Check out the glorious original trailer for the 1976/77 film Black Samurai below: