'Warrior' preview: Episode 1 brings the bloody Tong Wars, Chinese-Irish tension and a whole lot more in 'The Itchy Onion'

A martial arts warrior arrives in the Old Wild West with nothing but his knowledge of martial arts to protect himself


                            'Warrior' preview: Episode 1 brings the bloody Tong Wars, Chinese-Irish tension and a whole lot more in 'The Itchy Onion'

In a few days, Bruce Lee's 'Warrior' will premiere on Cinemax and as it is much awaited by fans across the globe, it wouldn't be wrong to say the show is first of its kind. Coming from creator Jonathan Tropper and directed by Justin Lin, 'Warrior' was written by Lee back in the 1970s as an attempt to spread his philosophy on martial arts and how it can affect the life of an individual.

The show was initially cancelled by major studios such as Paramount and Warner Bros., but now it has been brought to life by the joint attempts of Lee's daughter, Shannon, Tropper and Lin. The show is led by an Asian cast, something Lee had rooted for back in the '70s. However, the idea didn't work back then since casting Asians as the lead wouldn't have been good enough for a studio to make profit.

Fortunately, in today's more inclusive times we will get to see some extremely talented actors such as Andrew Koji (Ah Sahm), Olivia Cheng (Ah Toy), Dianne Doan (Mai Ling), and Jason Tobin (Young Jun), play the roles of Chinese men and women who travelled across the sea to make their lives in the Old Wild West. The first episode, titled 'The Itchy Onion' begins with their journey, and as it is set to premiere April 5, here are the top five things to expect from Episode 1: 

1. Arrival of the "The Itchy Onion"

As the official synopsis suggests, a young skillfull martial arts warrior, Ah Sahm, arrives in Chinatown in San Fransisco looking for someone close to him. However, he soon finds himself between the gripping racism of the white supremacists and the ongoing secret battle between the Tongs.

Trained in martial arts, and educated in the foreign language, Sahm soon attracts the attention of several people all of whom want him to work with them. Sahm has to choose his alliance but he needs to be careful because he is always being watched.

2. Blood is cheap in Chinatown

The promo trailer is proof that 'Warrior' is going be as bloody as any other show on TV right now. Almost reminiscing the violent outlook of the contemporary BBC One show, 'Peaky Blinders', 'Warrior' relies heavily on the battles fought between the Tongs during the early 20th century. There are quite a number of scenes which are so gory, it almost makes it difficult to focus on the main storyline, but then again, these scenes are acutely choreographed to let the actors showcase their sharp moves and swift gazes.

3. This is not China

'Warrior' uses violence to showcase the reality of the Tong Wars. (IMDb)
'Warrior' uses violence to showcase the reality of the Tong Wars. (IMDb)

Episode 1 sets the stage for Chinatown. Lin had carefully placed the characters against their suitable backgrounds in order to bring out the infamous secret businesses of the Tongs. They were known for their businesses in gambling, drugs, and brothels, all of which form the backbone to the Chinese establishments in the Old Wild West.

This is not the place where you will see authentic Chinese representation, but this is a place which from every angle shows the unreliable faces of the people who have travelled far away from home, and will probably never go back.

4. The Hip Sings and the On Leongs


'Warrior' focuses on the Tong Wars that had gripped Chinatown by its throat back in the 20th century, but the show chiefly focuses on two rival Tongs - the Hip Sings and the On Leongs. Historically known for their incessant murder-sprees, and their consistent brushing against each other, these two Tongs are almost like the guiding path for the characters. As the two leaders of the Tongs are set to rage a war on the slightest provocation, the other members follow their respective Tongs' principles which ironically call for peace and redemption.

5. The Irish Interference

The Irish would often team up with the government to fight against the Chinese. (IMDb)
The Irish would often team up with the government to fight against the Chinese. (IMDb)

'Warrior' is a Chinese perspective on the immigrants' plight in the New World. The Chinese, unlike the Irish, were extremely proficient and this was a major reason why they were also feared by the government. On the other hand, their proficiency in trade and their ability to take control of the market, soon turned the Irish immigrants against them, and Episode 1 spends a good few minutes building up on the tumultous dynamic between the two communities. 

'Warrior' premieres on Cinemax April 5, and you can watch the trailer here: