The Quarantine Stream: 'Warrior' is a Kick-Ass Series About People Kicking Ass

(Welcome to The Quarantine Stream, a series where the /Film team shares what they’ve been watching while social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.)

The Series: Warrior

Where You Can Stream It: HBO Max

The Pitch: Based on ideas from the legendary Bruce Lee, Warrior is kind of like Deadwood meets Peaky Blinders with martial arts.

Why It’s Essential Quarantine Viewing: Warrior is one of those shows that seems to be under the radar. I’ve seen people talk about it from time to time, but not extensively. And that’s a damn shame because folks, this show rules. It’s a stylish, ultra-violent, action-packed series about people beating the shit out of each other. What’s not to love?

After being disappointed with the recent Mortal Kombat movie, I was thirsting for some sort of entertainment that would deliver on fighting action. Then I remembered Warrior – a series that features Joe Taslim, who plays Sub-Zero in the new Mortal Kombat. I crossed my fingers and hit play on the first episode, and was immediately knocked on my ass.

In this era of peak TV, I hear this time and time again regarding shows: “You have to wait two or three episodes before it gets good!” And sure, sometimes that’s true. But Warrior doesn’t fuck around. You don’t have to wait for it to get good – it’s good from the get-go, immediately hooking you with its historical setting and fantastic action.

The story: Ah Sahm (Andrew Koji) has emigrated from China to San Francisco in the 1870s. He’s come to America in search of his sister, but before he can even begin his search he gets roped into joining one of the many criminal tongs in Chinatown. And wouldn’t you know it, as bad luck would have it, his sister (played by Dianne Doan) is running a rival tong – info that could get Ah Sahm killed if his new “brothers” learn the truth. Meanwhile, the Irish community in San Francisco is furious that they’ve been cast aside for the even cheaper Chinese labor. There’s a lot of bad blood here, and it frequently boils over into brutal, bloody fights.

As far as storytelling goes, Warrior isn’t exactly fresh and exciting. You’ve seen variations on these plotlines before. But the show has so much raw, fierce energy, and so much slick style – Ah Sahm’s gang is constantly decked out in cool black suits, which means we get lots of fight scenes of guys in cool suits swinging around axes – that you can overlook the lack of originality. I don’t know if I’d put Warrior up there with peak TV greats like Deadwood, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a hell of a lot of fun. The series ran for two seasons on Cinemax, and that might explain why it’s not talked about more – who the hell watches Cinemax?

Thankfully, the series has been renewed for a third season, and that third season is headed to HBO Max. Perhaps then it’ll find an even bigger audience – but here’s your chance to get in on the ground floor and brag to all your friends that you were cool as hell and watching Warrior way back when.

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