Marc Olden’s “Black Samurai” series of novels were written and published between 1974 and 1975. The franchise follows American GI Robert Sand, on leave in Tokyo, who is shot trying to protect an old man from a group of drunk American soldiers. What he doesn’t realize is that the old man is actually a Japanese Samurai master, who really doesn’t need Sand’s help, as he beats his attackers senseless. The Samurai is Master Konuma; he rescues Sand, and trains him for seven years, teaching him martial arts, swordplay, and stealth, until he becomes the Black Samurai – not only the first black man to ever take the oath of the Samurai, but the strongest fighter Konuma has ever trained.
One night, their dojo is ambushed, they are outnumbered and Sand witnesses the killing of his teacher and brother samurai by unknown villains. Sand then becomes a man with a mission for vengeance – to destroy the corrupt powers who are plotting an assault on world peace that could destroy everything he holds dear.
By the way, this is not to be confused with “Afro Samurai,” the Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Takashi Okazaki, which follows the life of Afro Samurai who witnessed his father (owner of the No. 1 headband) being killed at the hands of a gunslinger named Justice (owner of the No. 2 headband) when he was a child. As an adult, Afro sets off to avenge his father’s death and kill Justice. It was adapted into a 5-episode animated TV series that later spawned a made-for-tv movie sequel, “Afro Samurai: Resurrection” in 2009. In addition, a video game and two successful soundtracks produced also by RZA were developed. Several years ago, Samuel L. Jackson was to produce a live action film based on the series, but it never happened.
Announced today, rapper/actor Common is attached to star in what will be a TV series adaptation of “Black Samurai” which Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA will executive produce. Andre Gaines, who owns rights to the book series, is also executive producing via his Cinemation shingle.
Mitchell Diggs and Diane Crafford of Wu Films are also executive producing.
The project isn’t yet set up at any network, as producers are currently shopping it around, so it’s still in the early development stage.
“Robert Sand is like black Jason Bourne,” said Gaines. “‘Black Samurai’ is one of the most unique, timely and fun experiences I’ve ever read, while at the same time tackling some serious subjects around race and diversity… With ‘John Wick 2’ and ‘Suicide Squad’ [Common appears in both], Common was an obvious choice for the role, and I’m thrilled to have him on board. I believe he’s the next great American actor.”
I would say that’s debatable. But I’m more than open to be proven wrong.
By the way, Jim Kelly starred in a 1977 film adaptation of “Black Samurai” which was directed by Al Adamson. Now you tell me, will Common serve as an adequate equivalent for Jim Kelly?
“Black Samurai” is the second Marc Olden property to be optioned for screen treatment. You might recall, just over a year ago, we announced that Idris Elba was developing a film adaptation of Olden’s 1978 thriller “Poe Must Die,” via his Green Door Production Co. Set in New York City in the 1840s, the novel follows Edgar Allan Poe fighting demonic forces and personal demons, as he teams up with a former fighter, who seeks revenge against a sorcerer who murdered his wife.
Elba planned to adapt the novel into a trilogy of films, although no word on when we can expect them, or whether Idris will also star, and who else might be attached (in front of and behind the screen), etc.
Common continues to stay busy, booking roles in the aforementioned “Suicide Squad” and “John Wick 2,” as well as the ensemble cast drama “The Tale,” and the action-thriller “Hunter Killer” with Gerard Butler, Gary Oldman and Billy Bob Thornton. He was most recently seen in “Barbershop: The Next Cut.”
To buy your very own copies of “Black Samurai,” Amazon.com has them for sale, so click here purchase.