The last few years we’ve seen television interestingly play around with genre.
Like Game of Thrones with fantasy, Westworld with sci-fi, and Lovecraft Country with horror, it seems as if audiences are more willing to indulge in genre TV that takes the genre tropes to more mature heights. Genre fiction has always personal favorite of mine, not just in film but in television. What’s even more interesting is that when genre itself is used as allegory for social issues, as shown brilliantly in Warrior. Warrior, a compelling martial art, western crime drama balances the fun of being an action series on a cable channel with the added touch of exploring America’s xenophobic history through a genre lens.
Going into season 2, we find Ah Sahm (Andrew Koji) in a state of transition and uncertainty. His action scenes continue to be as compelling as ever, especially the scenes in the fight club run by Vega (Maria Elena Laas). However, his fight choreography reflects his growing aggression and confusion as to how to move forward. This season manifests the growth of all its characters, for better or for worse. Young Jun (Jason Tobin) and Mai Ling (Dianne Doan) rise through the ranks, each needing to prove their worth in the face of enemies and old allies. Even Ah Toy (Olivia Cheng) develops an interesting friendship with Nellie Davenport (Miranda Raison), forcing her to questions her own place in Chinatown. Meanwhile, other characters like Richard Lee (Tom Weston-Jones) and Officer “Big Bill” O’Hara (Kieran Bew) find themselves descending into madness, vice, and obsession, finding themselves unable to compete with their new normal.
The most compelling stories continue to be the growing race war between the Chinese and the Irish, and what continues to reinforce the narrative is the show’s use of the Western genre. The show plays around with crime and martial arts tropes, but the Western period detail feels like a character in itself. While these two groups are fighting each other, the Western backdrop looms omnipresent, reflecting the American businessmen and politicians egging on both sides. As the Chinese and Irish duke it out, the show never draws attention away from the American system that forces both sides to compete with each other in the first place. After all, each side is being exploited one way or another, even if they don’t realize it.
Like last season’s episode “The Blood and the Sh*t”, season 2 also has an episode that’s more of a stand-alone, this time leaning more into the martial arts genre by featuring a fighting tournament. It’s easily my favorite episode of the series. In addition to being fun and showcasing impressive action all around, it gives the show a chance to breath and explore its characters. The chemistry between Ah Sahm and Young Jun is a highlight of the show, further boosted by the addition of Hong (Chen Tang), an exuberant new addition to the Tong that adds a joyful insanity every moment he’s on-screen. Hong is one of my favorite additions of the show, and I’m sure he’ll be a favorite among all of you. While every episode has great action, this episode really shows off the show’s choreography, balancing style and intensity effortlessly.
People looking for a new show to follow should jump on this one ASAP. As the characters and conflicts develop, the insanity will definitely grow with new twists and turns. Warrior is timely, action-packed, sexy, and most importantly, fun.
Warrior will premier it’s second season on October 2nd on Cinemax at 10:00 pm EST
You can check out my interview with Andrew Koji here.