WARRIOR is the latest gangster TV series to premiere on Sky One and is set during the Tong Wars in the late 1800s.
We follow the story of Ah Sahm, a Chinese martial arts prodigy who immigrates to San Francisco. He very quickly ends up becoming a hatchet man for the Hop Wei (one of Chinatown’s most powerful organised crime family).
Ah Sahm is played by Andrew Koji who is actually a British actor of mixed Japanese and English heritage. Koji has played several smaller parts up until now in shows such as American Gods (another show with lots of British talent), Call The Midwife and a bit part in Casualty.
The story begins with Ah Sahm's arrival to San Francisco, 1878. Chinese immigration first began in the early 1800's so there is already a large and fairly established community there. Various altercations lead to Ah Sahm's introduction to the Hop Wei and he meets Young Jun (Jason Tobin) who is impressed with Ah Sahm's fighting skills. He is the son of tong leader, Father Jun (Perry Yung). Some may remember Tobin from Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift. I am impressed by Tobin's quick wit and skills and he is a very entertaining supporting actor throughout the show.
Ah Sahm is branded and taken to a brothel where he befriends Ah Toy (Olivia Cheng) who is a savvy courtesan with connections. He explains that he is actually in search of a woman who immigrated from China to San Francisco two years earlier. Later, he crosses paths with Mai Ling (Diane Doan) who's character is also very interesting and Li Yong (Joe Taslim) a very skilled martial arts fighter.
Simultaneously, Officer Bill O'Hara (Kieren Bew) who is the head of police for the Chinatown district has issues of his own and we learn quite a lot about his struggles throughout the show.
The introduction of the characters was impressive and I think you get a worthy insight to their personas. The dialogue itself is also very apt for that period and there is a lot of crude language, ignorance and racism towards the Chinese community mostly from white Americans and Irish Immigrants. At the same time, you see the beginning of a cultural mix and some of the characters throughout the show are quite forward thinking for that period of time and very adaptable to the change, equality and progression for all.
One of the series producers is Shannon Lee who is the daughter of martial arts film star, Bruce Lee. A lot of the fight scenes are inspired by Lee's MMA style, Jeet Kune Do. There are also some very exciting bare knuckle fights with the Irish. If you are not into fight scenes this show may not be for you! Personally, I'm loving it!
Overall, Warrior is a very enjoyable entertaining show! The mise en scene is also spectacular and I do appreciate beautiful, raw, gritty cinematography sometimes because it paints a valuable picture of struggle and hardship. Music wise, it it right up my street. The soundtrack is awesome slightly tarantino-esque (mainly Django influences by merging modern music with a period setting). Lots of Chinese hip hop and rare grooves.
I also think it is very refreshing to see a show set in those times with a different perspective. There are not many adaptations of US history with Chinese immigrants as the main focus. Having now binged the entire season of Warrior, I cannot recommend it enough. I am very excited to see what comes next!
- You can catch up on Sky.