Gangs Of New Chinatown
Set in a racially tumultuous America during the 1800’s, Warrior offers up a heady cocktail of Peaky Blinders style, gang wars and martial arts in the best possible way. With a suitably moody colour palette and a methodically paced plot, Warrior eases into its story, ending with a tantalising prospect going forward after a shocking climax.
The episode itself begins with Ah Sahm arriving to America with a boatload of immgrants looking for work. Ignoring the racial chants from angry onlookers, he eases past 3 officers who pick a fight with him. Seeing his potential, a man named Chao comments on his fighting prowess before introducing him to the most powerful gang in Chinatown.
Branded and shown the ropes, Ah Sahm has his own reasons for coming to America which are revealed when he visits a brothel. He’s looking for a girl named Zhao and openly asks the girls in the establishment if they’ve heard of her. After discussing things privately with a courtesan called Ah Toy, she warns him against speaking openly on these matters. She tells him someone did come looking for her a year earlier and died promptly after asking questions.
Stewing over the words of this courtesan, Ah Sahm continues to tumble down the rabbit hole while more rivalries are revealed throughout the episode. As an opium war looms on the horizon between rival gangs, the angsty police, fuelled by xenophobic hatred, have problems of their own. A racially motivated murder acts as the catalyst for police sergeant “Big Bill” O’Hara whose tasked with leading a squad to maintain order in Chinatown. After some probing, he decides on the men to do just that.
Toward the end of the episode, Ah Sahm finds what he’s looking for but she’s going by a different name. The girl is Ah Sahm’s sister and she laments his involvement in their shadowy past. Refusing to give much away, she refuses to come back with him and leaves him alone in this strange, inhospitable place. Realizing he’s in over his head, Ah Sahm tries to buy passage back home but he’s refused – he belongs to the Tongs now and there’s no way out.
While it would be unfair to compare this to Peaky Blinders, the episode itself certainly gives out the same vibes with its world building and colourful array of characters. This is a brutal, inhospitable world driven by anger and politically charged racism and this is certainly felt throughout the episode.
Now, it is worth noting that the dialogue does feel a little forced and somewhat stiff between characters at times. It’s not a deal breaker but some of the lines feel ripped right out of a martial arts film which does juxtapose a little next to the worldbuilding and characters themselves.
The colours are suitably muted throughout the episode though and with no dominant colour, Warrior is a gritty, moody series that does a great job depicting racial tensions. The fight choreography and martial art segments work really well here too and you really get the feeling that Ah Sahm is an experienced fighter throughout the episode.
It’ll be interesting to see how Warrior develps over the coming weeks. There’s some really interesting narrative work being done here and the hour-long length actually works well to flesh out the world and the characters without feeling rushed. Some of the dialogue is a little contrived though which is worth pointing out but there’s enough intrigue with the story to make this easy to ignore.
Quite where Warrior will go following its climactic finish is anyone’s guess but given the tensions already developing between the different factions, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see this explode in a bloody flurry of fighting at the end. Warrior gets off to a really good start though and for now, there’s enough going on to make it an intriguing prospect going forward.