Consider: When Bruce Lee enchanted the world with Fist of Fury in 1972, he gave legitimacy to kung fu cinema, as well as a sense of identity to Asian-Americans and Chinese. Lee, while living and after passing, has done more to spread martial arts than anyone in history. In my book, that makes him the GOAT, the greatest of all time, in the martial arts world, and via several projects inspired by him, he managed to counter the rat that was 2020. Specifically, he did this through Enter the Fat Dragon, Paper Tigers, Be Water and the work that will be covered here: the poignant second season of Warrior.
Season 2 shocked the psyche of viewers with snippets of forgotten Chinese-American history that rival the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II and the lynching of Blacks in the deep South. Sobering scenes in the season’s final two episodes manifested into a longtime-coming climax that had powerful fight scenes filled with pride-inducing symbolism. It was as compelling as it was moving.
One such scene is a re-enactment of when whites and Mexicans mass-lynched Chinese in 1871 in Los Angeles — when killing a Chinese national resulted in nothing more severe than a $12 fine. When Warrior recreated this Chinatown, it had two tongs unite to defend their people against a rampaging mob made up of bashing and mashing “fighting Irish” workers who had been incited by white government officials.
In the Cinemax series, Andrew Koji, who plays Ah Sahm, ponders that as human beings, we’re all looking for peace and happiness. Sadly, the closest the character gets to that is in Episode 5 in Season 1, when he samples a simple life and his heart longs to have a family.
In regard to the battles that erupt when that simple life ends, Koji said, “He no longer fights for ego; he fights for a bigger cause. He finds peace in using his skills for the greater good and transitions from being a selfish fighter to being a selfless warrior.”
In a 2005 interview with Bruce Lee’s sister Phoebe, she told me that when she and Bruce were kids in Hong Kong, because of World War II’s aftermath, they were not allowed to spend too much time outside. Yet when Bruce did venture out, he’d rent kung fu comic books about Shaolin heroes fighting the evil Manchus who had subdued China. She said her brother also loved drawing kung fu deity Guan Gong, who’s frequently depicted with a red face and his signature halberd-like weapon, the guan dao.
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