The Best Action Show on Max Will Soon Be Headed to Netflix 




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A mash-up between a Boardwalk Empire-like period piece and martial arts shouldn’t work. But with Warrior, the genres blend together into a satisfying, surprisingly deep, and wild ride.

The drama, based on a concept by Bruce Lee, follows the brutal Chinatown gang (known as tongs) wars and political machinations of late 1800s San Francisco, started on Cinemax before finding enough of an audience on then HBO Max to warrant a third season on streaming. On Monday, Max canceled the show but signed a deal to bring the first three seasons to Netflix, according to Deadline

The move opens the door to Warrior finding a wider audience and the potential for renewal, something we’ve seen with Cobra Kai, Lucifer, and Arrested Development. Suits’ popularity over the summer have people begging for a renewal or spinoff. Warrior will join Netflix’s lineup in February. 

It’s a show that’s absolutely worth saving. Warrior stars Andrew Koji, who plays Ah Sahm, who effectively channels Lee’s spirit in portraying a Chinese immigrant and talented martial artist who arrives in San Francisco and immediately shakes up the dynamics of the San Francisco Tong scene after joining the infamous Hop Wei crime family. Its presentation of Chinese life in America at this time is unprecedented in its attention to detail.  

The show, however, also takes the time to lay out the various factions beyond the different Chinese tongs, from the Irish workers angry at being displaced by cheap Chinese, the local police trying (and sometimes failing) to keep things from exploding, and the businessmen and politicians pulling their own strings in a fully fleshed out world. 

In doing so, the show fills out a stellar cast full of compelling characters, from Dianne Doan’s Mai Ling, head of a rival tong and Ah Sahm’s estranged sister, Irish labor leader Dylan Leary (Dean S. Jagger), and Ah Toy (Olivia Cheng), a madame who moonlights as a sword-wielding assassin. They’re just the tip of the iceberg in a stacked lineup of memorable characters.   

Interspersed between the drama befitting the Sopranos or Boardwalk Empire are some of the most incredible fight scenes put to screen. The action is brutal, unflinching, and absolutely cathartic to watch – and serve to propel the overall narrative further. 

A constant bombardment of fights could get repetitive, but the show does an excellent job of changing up the styles, from the more kinetic Wing Chun/Jeet Kune Do-inspired action from Ah Sahm to the more vicious brawler Dylan Leary. Seeing these clashes of different styles just adds to the fun and variety.

Warrior also does a good job of depicting the luxuries of that time, juxtaposed to just how terrible life could be when access to medical care and even basic necessities wasn’t always a guarantee. Again, the contrast makes for a compelling watch. 

Each season builds upon the next, with the introduction of new characters and more elaborate world building. Relationships form and break, and conflicts bubble up and explode, and the status quo shifts multiple times. 

Which is why it’s a shame Warrior was canceled. Without offering any spoilers, the end of the third season offered a game-changing alliance that opens up new storytelling opportunities. The show deserves at least one more season to pay that off. 
Here’s hoping Warrior finds new life on Netflix. Until then, you can still check it out on Max.

Image credit: Warner Bros. Discovery/Max

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