Warrior Seasons 1-3 (S01-S03) – This “Punchy” Western/Eastern Series Was Bruce Lee’s Dream

SERIES REVIEW – If you have a penchant for Chinese martial arts, action scenes, and historical dramas, then Warrior is the show for you. Originally conceived by Bruce Lee, the story was brought to life by his daughter, Shannon Lee, and film director Justin Lin for Cinemax and HBO Max. The plot is set in late 19th century San Francisco, where tensions and violence between Chinese immigrants and Irish laborers form the backdrop for an exciting and visually stunning martial arts adventure.



The series revolves around Ah Sahm (Andrew Koji), a virtuoso in Chinese martial arts, who arrives in San Francisco from the distant Foshan in search of his missing sister, Xiaojing (Dianne Doan). However, it soon becomes apparent that his sister, under the alias Mai Ling, is the covert leader and wife of the Long Zii Tong mafia organization, embroiled in conflict with a rival gang. Ah Sahm ends up joining another tong, Hop Wei, as a new member of their assassin roster. Thus begins his bloody game of survival, where he must navigate not only the inter-gang warfare but also battle the Irish mafia, corrupt police, and racist politicians.



Dragons at War


Warrior’s greatest strength lies in its fight scenes. The show doesn’t hold back on action, with at least one or two spectacular brawls per episode. The choreography deftly blends Bruce Lee’s style with authentic Chinese martial arts forms. The actors convincingly portray the moves and emotions. Andrew Koji, in particular, shines as Ah Sahm, needing not only to physically embody the character but also to speak in English and Cantonese. The other cast members play their respective characters well, whether friend or foe to Ah Sahm.

However, the fight scenes are not always perfect. Sometimes excessive cuts, music, or slow-motion take away from the momentum and realism. Some scenes can be overly violent or bloodier than necessary. On the flip side, the series occasionally overindulges in action, neglecting character development or motivation. While most fight scenes are entertaining and visually appealing, they aren’t always justified or credible.



The Old West with an Eastern Hue


Warrior is not only action-packed but also a historical drama. By portraying the late 19th-century period of Sino-American relations, it introduces us to masses of people who arrived in San Francisco hoping for a better life, only to encounter a reality of servitude, racism, and violence. The series boldly depicts the social issues and conflicts of that time, such as the strikes by Irish workers, the exploitation of Chinese women, political intrigues, and police corruption. Thus, Warrior not only entertains but also imparts valuable lessons about American history.

However, historical accuracy is not always spot-on. The story, thought up by Bruce Lee and continued by his daughter Shannon Lee and Justin Lin, is more of a fictional tale that draws from real events but isn’t rigidly tied to them. The narrative sometimes oversteps reality for dramaturgical reasons in presenting characters and situations. Of course, this is not a historical documentary but a fun western kung-fu series that doesn’t necessarily adhere strictly to reality.



The Return of the Dragons


We had the chance to watch the entire third season of Warrior in a “screening” version provided by HBO Max. The storyline continues the sibling rivalry between Ah Sahm and Mai Ling on the battlefield of San Francisco’s tong wars, where tensions between Americans and Chinese are escalating. The new season introduces new characters, like Ah Sahm’s old friend from Fung Hai (Lewis Tan), and a mysterious woman (Celine Jade) who upends Ah Sahm’s life. The third season does not lack in spectacular fight scenes, thrilling plot twists, and surprises.

At the heart of the third season’s narrative are the political and personal struggles of the characters. The protagonist, Ah Sahm, and the Hop Wei gang develop new survival strategies, while Mai Ling leverages her government connections to consolidate her power. However, the unfolding of geopolitical battles and survival strategies doesn’t always deliver the expected results in the third season. Overly complex plots can sometimes divert attention from the core story and the development of characters.

It’s also worth mentioning that while the third season holds many thrills, it doesn’t necessarily answer all questions or resolve the fate of every character. Original plans foresaw four or five seasons for the series, but it’s still undetermined whether a fourth season will follow. The third season could be the last, or it could simply be a lead-up to a bigger finale, bringing with it both excitement and uncertainty.



Bruce Lee’s Dream Really Packs a Punch


Bruce Lee originally wanted to bring Warrior to life in the 1970s, but never had the chance. His daughter, Shannon Lee, preserved the idea and the initial script, and also served as one of the series’ producers. Warrior not only honors Bruce Lee but also brings his dream to life. The series contains numerous nods and “easter eggs” to Bruce Lee’s life and films, like Ah Sahm’s yellow outfit, his martial arts moves, or his dragon tattoo. The series appeals not only to martial arts enthusiasts but also to those who love and respect Bruce Lee. The three seasons offer a lot of excitement, unexpected plot twists, excellent characters, and of course, bloody fights and kung-fu for the viewers.

Overall, Warrior is a great series that fully meets the expectations of the martial arts action drama genre. It offers spectacular and exciting fight scenes, interesting and diverse characters, historical accuracy, and a societal message. It doesn’t only entertain but also makes you think about the challenges faced by Chinese-American immigrants and the importance of tolerance and peace. All this, coupled with the realization of Bruce Lee’s dream, makes the series even more special. Fans of the legendary actor and of kung-fu and western action films won’t be disappointed in Warrior. Despite minor flaws, its third season successfully continues the narrative. Having already watched the entire third season, we are awaiting further seasons with… the patience of Confucius… screw that!… we’re impatiently waiting!


Warrior Seasons 1-3 (S01-S03)

Direction - 8.6
Actors - 8.5
Story - 8.2
Visuals/Music/Sounds/Action - 9.5
Ambience - 9.2



Warrior is a mesmerizing martial arts action drama based on Bruce Lee's original idea. The series is set in 19th-century San Francisco, where a Chinese martial artist tries to survive gang wars and racism. The series is exciting, visually stunning, and educational.

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BadSector is a seasoned journalist for more than twenty years. He communicates in English, Hungarian and French. He worked for several gaming magazines – including the Hungarian GameStar, where he worked 8 years as editor. (For our office address, email and phone number check out our impressum)

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