Warrior is the story of Ah Sahm, who finds himself in 1870s San Francisco in search of his sister. The series has good reviews across the board but has largely flown under the radar. Based on the writings of the late Bruce Lee, Warrior has a certain level of gratuitousness, but underneath its violence and bad language is a really interesting look at what drives people to flourish when put in difficult situations.
As expected with that something that comes from the mind of one of the best martial artists in history, the series features some pretty great fight sequences. The producers have matched the script’s high-intensity action with several directors who clearly know how to put together an impressive sight scene. Here are the ten most intense fights from the first season, ranked.
10 “If You’re Going to Bow, Bow Low” – the battle with Leary
The series’ biggest mismatched fight comes in the final episode, when Ah Sahm has to go toe to toe with Leary, a hulking Irish mob boss. Here, Leary’s brutal style which involves throwing a punch in any way possible is met with Ah Sahm’s graceful martial arts, making for a really interesting fight scene unlike any of the others.
Leary is by no means the best fighter that Ah Sahm comes up against, but with such a different skill set to his other opponents, he’s one that he has to try harder against to come out on top.
9 “Chewed Up, Spit Out and Stepped On” – Casino Battle Royale
In the series’ sixth episode, Tong enforcers Young Jun, Ah Sahm and Bolo attack the Fung Hai’s casino as retaliation for an attempt on Young Jun’s father’s life. As far as violence goes in the series’ fight sequences, this is one of the most all out gratuitous scenes; one that sees several characters all fighting at once using both hand-to-hand combat and weapons.
There’s talk throughout this first season of Warrior about the Tong wars in San Francisco, and this sequence is one that shows the extent of this reality: people are essentially slaughtered rather than just engaging in fights.
8 “They don’t pay us enough to think” – Ah Sahm’s training
Following the death of Bolo, the Hop Wei go-to fighter, the Tong needs to find someone else to represent them in a fight with Li Yong in order to settle years-old scores between the two crime organizations.
When being selected to fight on behalf of his Tong for this big battle, Ah Sahm is ambushed by fighters from his own gang as a test of his readiness. The sequence sees him easily prove himself against several opponents all at once, showing that he’s more than capable enough to take on Li Yong.
7 “John Chinaman” – Jail fight
One of the first times we see Ah Sahm’s real strength as a fighter is in this sequence, where members of the Irish gang are let into a jail cell to kill him. It’s an idea that’s often used in movies and TV -especially in martial arts- where the protagonist is caged and uses that to their advantage.
This is one of the most bone-crunching realistic fights in the whole series and really sets up the character within the show as a dominant force to be reckoned with.
6 “The Itchy Onion” – Ah Sahm’s introduction
In the first episode, while looking for his sister, Ah Sahm finds himself in the wrong neighbourhood where he encounters Li Yong. He’s a brilliant fighter, Yong Zii Tong’s enforcer and the person he’ll eventually meet in the series’ most intense fight.
Ah Sahm has just come to America and this is his first real challenge when it comes to fighting, aside from a gang from Long Zii who he pretty handily takes care of earlier in the same episode. It’s this fight where we see what the series’ main character is really capable of, as it sets off a chain of events that runs right the way through the rest of the series.
5 “There’s no China in the bible” – setting the tone
The trailers and reviews of this show promised a violent, no-holds-barred series and the first episode doesn’t really deliver. But then, the opening sequence of the second episode cements the fact that this is the case with a brutal scene. Ah Sahm and Young Jun attack Long Zii gang members attempting to smuggle opium behind the Hop Wei’s back.
Not really a fight and more of an attack, this scene really sets the tone for the kind of violence that’s going to be seen in the rest of this first season of Warrior.
4 “The Tiger and The Fox” – choosing sides
The assassination attempt on Long Zii and Mai Ling in “The Tiger and the Fo” sees Ah Sahm having to go against his own Tong to save his sister’s life. This results in a great fight with Bolo, another one of his Tong’s enforcers and their best fighter.
This is one of the best fights in the series because it’s so ambitious in its scale. It features more than two fighters and is brilliantly choreographed, as they make their way through the couples’ safe house, breaking every piece of furniture in sight as they trade blows.
3 “They don’t pay us enough to think” – Tong battle
Set up in the final moments of the seventh episode of the show, “They don’t pay us enough to think” opens with an incredibly well-executed street war between the Hop Wei and Long Zii gangs. Both Tongs are out for revenge after several assassinations are performed on each side, leadings to the series’ biggest action sequence with plenty of people killed on the street in the fight.
This is certainly one of the most intense fights in the whole series and really highlights that the show isn’t afraid to show a bit of blood.
2 “The Blood and the Sh*t” – bottle episode shoot out
In a bottle episode in the middle of the series, Ah Sahm and Young Jun, the son of the Hop Wei Tong leader are holed up in a saloon in the middle of nowhere. When the saloon is attacked by a local gang, they need to work with their travelling companions to face them.
What follows is a shoot-out in which the whole cast takes part. Unlike the other hand-to-hand combat scenes from the rest of the series, this scene is much more like something out of a John Wick movie.
1 “Chinese Boxing” – settling the feud
This sequence feels like the final battle at the end of a level in a video game. Ah Sahm, part of the Hop Wei Tong, must fight the Long Zii Tong’s Li Yong to settle a dispute between the two organized crime syndicates.
This fight is without a doubt the longest in the series and absolutely the most intense. What really lets fight sequences down -especially in the lower-budget, time-constrained world of television- is when they don’t feel real or look too staged. What this series does really well is make every punch feel real, and this fight feels the most realistic of any of them.
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