Produced by daughter of the late Bruce Lee, Shannon Lee along with Justin Lin, & Jonathan Tropper comes a brand-new Marital arts drama series from Cinemax that has been 50 years in the making from the early works of the legendary Bruce Lee himself titled “Warrior” set in the late 1870s of San Francisco, California which follows a young man by the name of Ah Sahm, a martial arts prodigy who’s on the search for his long lost sister in hopes of bringing her home, & is later sold to one of the most powerful tongs in Chinatown.
Filled with an Awe-inspiring Cast starring Andrew Koji, Olivia Cheng, Diane Doan, Kieran Bew, Dean Jagger, Joanna Vanderham, Tom Weston-Jones, Hoon Lee, Joe Taslim, Perry Yung, & Langely Kirkwood comes a story that reflects heavily on the hardships and reality of racism, discrimination, & sexism set in a fictional world that very closely mirrors our current society.
Let me just start off by stating it’s rare when we see a television series like this that is so committed to giving viewers across the world a show that is willing to speak so truthfully on the many struggles people of color have & continue to endure today. Warrior is not only throughly entertaining, but also is distinct on the messages it is able to tell through its dialogue & the characters we grow to love throughout the series.
We see a world where racism is displayed at an all time high with Asians being called cruel/hateful names such as “Chink” & “Chinaman” along with political leaders of all kinds abusing their power & deeming those of color less than human by either having them arrested on false charges, not giving them fair trials or going as far as committing random attacks as a way of pushing them out of the country.
Sounds familiar doesn’t it? Good because it should. Those same exact events you see on this show are happening in our world right now to so many of us, & unfortunately hasn’t gotten any better. That’s what makes this story so powerful. It’s not solely focused on just giving you cool entertaining fights which by the way are amazing, but instead uses its time to get you emotionally attached to characters that reflect real people suffering battles similar to our own. Really showing the difficulty of what it means to be looked down upon & judged wrongfully for no other reason but your ethnic background or your skin color.
Ah Sahm who’s our protagonist played by Andrew Koji quickly gets himself involved with the Hop Wei Tong, & is later put at odds with their life long rival gang the Long Zii. Finding enemies from every corner & few allies he can trust, we see our hero Ah Sham grow into a force to be reckoned with that is hellbent on protecting his new found family and will stop at nothing to ensure the safety of his sister. I don’t think Shannon Lee could have found a better lead for this show. Andrew Koji is not just a terrific actor, but also brings a cool edgy type of energy to the character of Ah Sahm, & fully embodies the role of man who can be naive & cocky at times but most of all is determined on trying to do some good in his life & the people around him, & refuses to be broken down or belittled by a city that’s in fear of itself. Wonderful lead!
Mai Ling played by the gorgeous & most talented Dianne Doan who’s original name goes by Xiaojing, is the younger sister of Ah Sahm, & one of the many powerful women we see showcased throughout the course of this show. After suffering years of abuse by her husband who she was forced to marry as a way of preventing the death of her younger brother, Mai Ling runs away from China to San Francisco & later becomes leader of the Long Zii Tong alongside her lover, enforcer & partner Li Yong.
Right from her first appearance Dianne Doan became an instant fan favorite of mine, & does an incredible job of portraying a woman who refuses to stay a victim to her past abuse and instead rises as a powerful warlord in her own right to help ensure others in Chinatown will no longer have to endure the same fate she suffered during her childhood. She has an enormous amount of strength about her that is infectious, & despite some of the cold actions she’s forced to unfortunately make at times, is able to cause viewers to fall completely in love with her, & want nothing but to see an outcome of her standing victorious by the end. People will be amazed by the wonderful performance Dianne Doan brings to the screen. You won’t be able to take your eyes off her, & will be left in shock with how much of a badass she becomes by the end of the first season. I’m telling y’all, she’s fantastic!!
Li Yong played by the none other Joe Taslim who many may already know from the widely beloved film The Raid: Redemption directed by Gareth Evans, & the most recently critically praised film featured on Netflix right now The Night Comes For Us directed by Tim Tijahanto, is not only a pleasant surprise to see for everyone including myself, but also if you’re looking to create a show that is centrally focused on displaying true martial arts at its finest, then this is the man you’d want on a project like this. It’s just common sense, & it’d almost be a crime not to have him involved in it. Very pleased he’s back to remind us all how much of a great fighter & actor he really is, & I think it was an excellent decision on Cinemax & the producers part bringing him on to this series.
Big Bill O’Hara & Richard Lee played by Kieran Bew & Weston-Jones are two police officers investigating the mysterious deaths committed in Chinatown by an unknown assailant. O’Hara who’s unfortunately caught in debt with the Irish men gang is met with some unlikely tasks that threatens the livelihood of his own family, & is pushed into becoming someone unrecognizable to himself & his peers as a means of protecting his loved ones.
While Richard Lee who we discover much later on has been targeted with a bounty on his head for committing murder & is now on the run for his life. Both work together on protecting the others interests, & during their investigation come across a completely new world existing in Chinatown when they get entangled in the ongoing war of the Tongs.
Lee & O’Hara help represent the only few good officers left in San Francisco who genuinely want to help its people & put an end to a conflict that can unfortunately result in the deaths of many. Kieran Bew & Weston Jones bring almost a Bony & Clyde vibe to the show that at times can be made for comedic relief, but most importantly display a deep brotherly bond of two men dealing with their own inner demons, & helps one another discover a more stronger version of themselves they didn’t know existed before. They at times can be the heart of the show set in a place that has left many oppressed longing for a glimmer of hope that things will turn out okay.
Ah Toy played by the beautiful Olivia Cheng is a Madame in charge of the Hop Wei Brothel, & stops at nothing to ensure the safety & protection of her own people from any and all kinds of threats surrounding Chinatown. Even if that means taking a life in the process. Intelligent, fearless, wise, & one of the few friends Ah Sahm has in San Francisco, & takes an interest in him after discovering his family connection to Mai Ling. Olivia Cheng not only steals every scene she’s in, but also is a downright thrill to watch, & most importantly one of the most stunning, & empowering women you’ll ever see on television right now. She does a fascinating job bringing such a great character in Ah Toy to life, & is one of the main reasons why this show is so damn incredible! She’s been involved with two other popular series as well titled Marco Polo & Deadly Class, which by the way she was also great in as well. Very ecstatic with everything she’s done so far, & can’t wait to see more of her in future seasons on this show.
Wang Chao played by Hoon Lee is a black market arms dealer that works both sides of the Hop Wei & Long Zii, & also with the San Francisco police. Supposedly an ally to everyone, but really a lone wolf with his own secrets, & probably one of the smartest people that resides in Chinatown. Many may already know Wang Chao from a previous beloved show on Cinemax called Banshee which ran for 4 seasons & ended its run in may 2016. So you can understand why so many fans were excited to see him make a return once again alongside Jonathan Tropper who I mentioned before as one of the producers on this show, & also worked as showrunner for Banshee. Hoon Lee brings a cool swagger to the character of Wang Chao that sets him apart from the rest, & plays as a huge asset to an already incredibly talented crew.
Joanna Vanderham plays Penelope Blake the wife of Mayor Samuel Blake whom she marries as a way of preventing her father’s business from going bankrupt. When we first meet Penelope, she’s already fighting a war of her own. Set at a time where women are almost forbidden to have a voice in almost anything, Penelope chooses to stand up against those that abuse their power, & begins to act as one of the first on breaking those barriers, while also slowly finding her own strength refusing to be silent against the visible racism currently going on within the city, & along the way grows a quick affection for our hero Ah Sahm who saves her from being mugged by a group of men working for the Hop Wei. Vanderham is so compassionate & empathetic in her portrayal. A remarkable actress that will immediately take your breath away, & is able to express a deep level of genuine & raw emotion on screen. Especially in scenes that require little to no dialogue. A joy to watch, & a great addition to the cast!
Other Additional Cast Members Include:
Dean Jagger plays Dylan Leary an American Civil War Veteran turned Crime Lord who holds a strong hate for the Chinese and firmly believes they’re the sole cause for jobs being taken away from the Irish. Dylan is a psychotic man feared by many around town who is committed on doing whatever it takes to drive out the Chinese from San Francisco, & will go as far as even taking another one’s life to ensure those goals are met. As sicking as this character may be, I gotta give it up to Dean Jagger for not being afraid on giving the audience one hell of a performance that reflects the acts & behavior of many people in our country that unfortunately shares the same hate. It’s not watered down in any way, & visibly shows just how cruel the world we live in really is.
Jason Tobin & Perry Yung who play Father Jun & Young Jun. Both run the Hop Wei Tong, & quickly decides to take in Ah Sahm in the beginning of the series as one of their own. Young Jun is son of Father Jun, & awaits the day of taking over the Hop Wei in honor of his father. Ah Sahm’s closest & most dearest friend in San Francisco, & has his back through thick & thin no matter the situation. The two are basically blood brothers that will kill for each other if absolutely necessary, & do what they must out of respect for Father Jun & the Hop Wei. Father Jun is a much more lethal, & focused man with a single goal in mind which is keeping sole control of the streets with his Tong at the top. All seeing & all knowing. A powerful crime boss that always honors his word, & doesn’t believe in second chances. Someone who’s not easily fooled, & has grown tired & weiry of the ridicule Chinatown is forced to deal with causing him to make cold/calculated decisions in the betterment of his people. He sees potential in Ah Sahm & grooms him into one his most trusted enforcers.
The action set pieces that take place are outstanding, & are some of the best I’ve seen since AMC’s Into The Badlands! Which is another show also centered around martial arts, & I highly recommend you all give that a look at too whenever you get the chance. The fights done on Warrior are grounded, gritty, brutal at times & intense, & doesn’t once slow down at all. It’s so well done, & beautifully shot, and if you’re someone who maybe even remotely interested in wanting to tune in, then the choreography alone should be more than enough to grab your attention. Trust me when I say, some of the fight scenes are just jaw dropping, & is once again a testament to how devoted everyone in this cast is to giving fans something that not only pays respect to the show itself, but also gives viewers everywhere a reason to start shouting out in praise with full adrenaline & pure excitement. It’s a rush you’ll love watching from start to finish.
If you’re someone who’s feeling a bit of an empty void now that Game Of Thrones is gone or just looking for a story that is not generic & is different from what you may have seen before, then I’d highly advise you take a look at this phenomenal series. Lots of hard work went into it, & it pays off tremendously. Believe me, you will not be disappointed. You have my word.. Season 1 is now available on the Cinemax app, & the show has now been renewed for a season 2. The more people that watch the better chances we have of it staying on air even longer. Which by the way is something I promise many of will be asking for by the time you fully become invested yourself. So keep showing your support, & if you haven’t seen it yet, hopefully I was able to convince you to start. Thanks for reading, & send us a message to either me or to our Twitter & Facebook pages @earth2comiccast or @Tweet_JvS. Be safe out there & enjoy the rest of your day. Peace!