The Triumph of "Warrior": A Multifaceted Saga Finds New Life on Netflix (Video)

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After its cancellation on Max, the action-packed historical drama series Warrior has just made its debut on Netflix, featuring all three seasons. The show has quickly secured a spot in the Top 10 most-viewed series on the platform. Inspired by the writings of Hollywood icon Bruce Lee, Warrior follows the journey of Ah Sahm, portrayed by Andrew Koji, a martial arts prodigy who immigrates from China to San Francisco in the 1870s amidst the Tong Wars in Chinatown in search of his sister.

Led by Koji, the ensemble cast includes Olivia Cheng, Jason Tobin, Dianne Doan, Hoon Lee, Chen Tang, Perry Yung, Langley Kirkwood, Tom Weston-Jones, and Kieran Bew. The cast recently sat down to discuss the series’ significance, impact, and potential future.

“I’ve always wanted to be part of something important, and this show not only satisfies me as a performer, but I feel we’re doing important work as well,” said Tobin. “If it inspires another generation of actors, I’m just honored and flattered."

“When I saw the script, it was an incredible opportunity to highlight people of color and our struggles in America, and the fact that we got to tell authentic stories in our own voice was something I never thought I’d see,” shared veteran actor Perry Yung. “I realize how precious this moment and privilege and opportunity is, especially during the pandemic when we saw a rise in Anti-Asian hate. Our show focuses on capitalism, immigrant scapegoating, and that’s here today more than ever. We have a lot of these people on the ‘other side’ that may enjoy our show and maybe that can sway them into having some empathy.”

The series’ diverse characters grapple with power struggles between gangs, capitalism, and violence among immigrant labor populations in the city. Many characters navigate moral ambiguity as they balance loyalty, personal gain, and the pursuit of power.

“I think that’s the most fun for actors, generally, that’s the place they want to play, in that exploration of middle tones,” said Hoon Lee, who plays the morally grey character Wang Chao, a black market salesman who sells to all sides of the Tong Wars. “It’s a delight to get to come to work and struggle through it and try to find your way to them. That’s what the work is really about and gives me the most satisfaction. We want to see characters who are complex and more difficult to pin down, and if we do that, we’ll have done our job as actors.”

“People are hypocrites, people are fallible and don’t know how they’re going to react under the next stressful situation. Our characters are constantly challenged and I love playing Bill. It’s great to play a guy who on the surface has to appear strong but underneath he’s a shell and he’s broken,” shared Kieran Bew, who plays corrupt officer Big Bill. “You’re not often given this many balls to juggle on a show, and almost every single character on our show is given that by the writers. It's a really carefully crafted, cleverly-written period drama underneath all the action.”

Olivia Cheng shared that prior to getting her audition for Warrior, she was in a difficult spot, believing that her career was nearing its end. “I was so broke I thought ‘maybe this can just figure out what the next step is’. Warrior has not only given me a sense of what it's like to be a series regular, but to be a lead in the show. To be just as strong as I am vulnerable, to be just as fragile as she is violent. To have all of those oxymorons exist in one character, for all of us is a really unprecedented privilege to have.”

Premiering in 2019 on Cinemax, Warrior was quickly renewed for a second season, which aired in 2020 amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. When Cinemax ceased production on original programming, the show was canceled, but fan outcry and support on social media led to HBO Max picking it up for a third season. The cast, crew, and creative team poured their best work into the third season, aware it might be their last outing. Now available on Netflix, the cast hopes the series will find a new global audience and the opportunity to conclude the story on their own terms.

“We love it dearly, we love making it, we love pouring ourselves into these characters when they watch, when they binge it on February 16th!” said Bew.

“Luckily, it’s very bingeable!” said Tang.

Catch all three seasons of Warrior, streaming now on Netflix.

Posted at MediaVillage through the Thought Leadership self-publishing platform.

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