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SilverStormm

Warrior

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I've been watching the trailers on Max Go, before each airing of "Strike Back".  When I first heard vague talk about a series set in San Francisco Chinatown in the 1800s, I was concerned that we were going to see yet another white savior type production, like with Matt Damon in "The Great Wall" and Tom Cruise in "The Last Samurai".  But the trailers look great.  Actual Asian leads and an Asian producer.

I love historical dramas and I'm eager to see this one.  I did detect some elements of racism in the trailers, namely someone yelling "The Chinese must go home" but as it seems the Chinese are the protagonists in this series, I am hoping for a positive portrayal.  Unlike, say, the way the Chinese were depicted in "Deadwood".  I know those were the times and the resentment towards the Chinese in the later part of the 19th century was real, but it will be interesting to see how the series turns out.

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Warrior is based on a Bruce Lee story, so I don't think white savior will be a problem for it. (Unless you count the history of Lee's idea that became the David Carradine show Kung Fu.)  I'm not sure if Warrior is same story Lee pitched or another that his daughter found in his papers. 

But I am sure there will be lots of overt racism depicted, considering how cable historical dramas tend to go, if only to show the difference inside and outside the Asian community in early SF. 

My husband is currently watching an old Western series called Have Gun, Will Travel and its depiction of Asians is definitely cringe-worthy.  Certainly Kam Tong and Lisa Lu subvert the stereotypes a bit but just the character names of Hey Boy and Hey Girl speak volumes. At least Lu has lived to see things change a little. 

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Warrior is getting a lot of press today.  This article quoting Justin Lin, specifically says there will be racial slurs.

https://www.inverse.com/article/54663-warrior-cinemax-bruce-lee-series-corrects-a-40-year-travesty

Quote

The show’s scripts, penned by a writing staff that includes Chinese-Americans, is populated with period-specific racial slurs for a reason. “I wanted to start raw,” says Lin, who wanted “to be true to the verbal abuse” that the Chinese endured at the time.

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On the plus side there's great music, one good fight, great interpretation of language, but on the minus side there's tons of exotified sexual objectification of Asian women (probably the worst I've ever seen), pointless focus on extraneous characters, and a bunch of poor decisions. I'm giving this a 3 out of a possible 10 so far, but I'll probably tune in again just to hear Cantonese on American tv.

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I really enjoyed it.  I liked the fact that this series features a slice of history that is rarely depicted onscreen, namely the treatment of the Chinese (many who came to America to help build the transcontinental railroad) and the beginning of the Tong Wars.  I was a little confused as to who was on which side, but it seems the Chinese will be facing attacks from both the whites as well as from each other.

There were a bit too many characters to introduce all at once.  Not sure what the point of the mayor and his Chinese-sympathetic wife was, other than to show her naked.  The other sympathizer, the cop from Georgia played by Tom Weston-Jones, seems to be there only to advance the "not all white people hate the Chinese" story.  Apart from that, a lot of people I didn't see enough to figure out what they want.

I thought it was great how the show made it clear that the Chinese characters are speaking with each other in Cantonese but then did a camera spin and overlapping voices to have them speaking in English for the sake of the viewing audience.  I thought it was most effectively done when they showed the guy who I think is the consigliere-type, Wang Chao, making the joke to his friends about the two nuns.  They are first seen speaking in Cantonese, then the camera flips and they are speaking perfect accentless English to each other.  Then we see the scene from the perspective of the cops and he has the broken accented English of someone for whom English is not his native language.  Well done.

I didn't fully understand what happened at the end.  Two Irish locals are urinating in the alley, and I believe it was Ah Toy (the madam) who killed them?  Is she just trying to foment fear among the locals?  Is she trying to have them blame Mai Ling's tong?  I have no idea what is going on there.

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I love it so far exactly what i thought it was gonna be! Classic cinemax! The fight scene are really good and hearing that most of the actors actually know how to fight makes them so much better very little stunt doubles!

1 hour ago, blackwing said:

Thought it was at how the show made it clear that the Chinese characters are speaking with each other in Cantonese but then did a camera spin and overlapping voices to have them speaking in English for the sake of the viewing audience.  I thought it was most effectively done when they showed the guy who I think is the consigliere-type, Wang Chao, making the joke to his friends about the two nuns.  They are first seen speaking in Cantonese, then the camera flips and they are speaking perfect accentless English to each other.  Then we see the scene from the perspective of the cops and he has the broken accented English of someone for whom English is not his native language.  Well done.

I didn't fully understand what happened at the end.  Two Irish locals are urinating in the alley, and I believe it was Ah Toy (the madam) who killed them?  Is she just trying to foment fear among the locals?  Is she trying to have them blame Mai Ling's tong?  I have no idea what is going on there.

I agree that makes it so much easier to know when they are speaking engish! Very well done. Amd i think those two at the end are the scumbags that were out on bail. Shes an 1800s green arrow!

Everyone saying they sexually exploit the chinese girls too much is like saying the show is too racist. It 100% is but i think thats the point trying to show how their lives were at that time.. also its cinemax action and nudity is their bread and butter. All in all of they keep it up i think it could be one of my favorites!

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I checked IMDB and it looks like every available Asian actor in Hollywood is in this series 😄

23 hours ago, blackwing said:

Not sure what the point of the mayor and his Chinese-sympathetic wife was, other than to show her naked.

My guess is she is going to be protagonist's forbidden love.  Frustrated young wife + broody martial artist, what can go wrong ?? 😄 😄😄 

23 hours ago, blackwing said:

I didn't fully understand what happened at the end.  Two Irish locals are urinating in the alley, and I believe it was Ah Toy (the madam) who killed them?  Is she just trying to foment fear among the locals?  Is she trying to have them blame Mai Ling's tong?  I have no idea what is going on there.

Those were the 2 dudes who killed the Chinese guys at the beginning of the episode.  They were employed by the rich white guy who pressured the mayor to release them from custody.
The madame was a "masked avenger" of sort

I like that the protagonist/Sahm is not the only tough guy in town.  There are others who can give him the run for his money

Glad to see Job from Banshee as the "talent agent"

This series has the vibe of Banshee meets Deadwood meets Black Sails

Edited by DarkRaichu

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Mannnnnnnnnnnn, Andrew Koji's Cantonese* is really bad. I imagine it must be very hard to hear the tones when not brought up in it; I'm pretty bad at Cantonese myself and it is technically my first language. And I can't pronounce Mandarin words to save my life, so I know coming to a different language's tones is super hard. And I am sympathetic. But it took me several rewinds to even guess what he was going for, and that's with the English subtitles.

* the non-Cantonese speakers learned their Cantonese lines phonetically, per this fascinating article about the choice to have the Chinese characters speak modern unaccented English when among themselves.

The action was pretty good. I liked that the madam was a skilled martial artist herself, as was Li Yong, the high level guy in Mai Ling's tong. The nudity, eh. And the tension between being a period piece with Something Important To Say about immigration and being a Cinemax brawls and boobs show is... weird.

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4 hours ago, arc said:

Mannnnnnnnnnnn, Andrew Koji's Cantonese* is really bad. I imagine it must be very hard to hear the tones when not brought up in it; I'm pretty bad at Cantonese myself and it is technically my first language. And I can't pronounce Mandarin words to save my life, so I know coming to a different language's tones is super hard. And I am sympathetic. But it took me several rewinds to even guess what he was going for, and that's with the English subtitles.

* the non-Cantonese speakers learned their Cantonese lines phonetically, per this fascinating article about the choice to have the Chinese characters speak modern unaccented English when among themselves.

The action was pretty good. I liked that the madam was a skilled martial artist herself, as was Li Yong, the high level guy in Mai Ling's tong. The nudity, eh. And the tension between being a period piece with Something Important To Say about immigration and being a Cinemax brawls and boobs show is... weird.

Thank you for posting this article, I really liked it.

My Cantonese isn't the best so I have trouble figuring out what they are saying sometimes without reading the subtitles, particularly with some of the slang they use, but I am enjoying seeing how much I can pick up.  I did get a laugh out of them saying "nay deem ah?" which I have always thought of as a simple "how are you" but they subtitled it as something like "hey, how the f*** are you".

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The nudity on this show feels exploitative. =/

Mai Ling is hella reckless. She’s cheating on her gangster boss husband with his second in command, she’s secretly defying his wishes for peace with the Hop Wei… BTW, according to Wikipedia, the most lucrative crime for tongs in SF was prostitution, but I can see how that would make these tongs too unsympathetic for TV. Also, I vaguely understand the bloodiest years of the tong wars didn’t actually kill that many people. The body count on this show will probably get up to 20x what history did.

In what little I got from descriptions of Bruce Lee’s original notes, “Big Bill” was supposed to both be a friend and antagonist to Ah Sahm. So far this Bill is just the latter. Maybe they’ve split out the friend role to the rookie cop. I do like that Bill was a Union soldier and has the high road on slavery on the rookie, even while simultaneously having the low road on anti-Chinese bigotry.

Going back to the pilot for a second, a lot of the dialogue was corny, but delivery was often solid. Father Jun imperiously demanding a bow, and Ah Toy flirting with Ah Sahm at the bar were both a lot of fun.

The Armani-ish suits of the Hop Wei and the Taiwanese rap at the end make me wish this show was full on postmodern pastiche, Samurai Champloo style.

It’s infuriating and kind of too real that the cops are furious about the murders of the two Irish murderers without ever even considering that they were themselves murderers too.

Edited by arc

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4 hours ago, arc said:

I do like that Bill was a Union soldier and has the high road on slavery on the rookie, even while simultaneously having the low road on anti-Chinese bigotry.

Does he have the high road on slavery?  Georgia guy (I haven't learned everybody's names yet) comments on the unfair treatment of the Chinese here, the Irish cop brings up slavery, Georgia guy responds that he doesn't support slavery, at which point the Irish cop just says "oh yeah, well other people from Georgia do".

Granting that the mayor and his wife clearly don't have the best relationship, but I found his lack of concern about two guys assaulting her in broad daylight quite strange.

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2 hours ago, SeanC said:

Georgia guy responds that he doesn't support slavery, at which point the Irish cop just says "oh yeah, well other people from Georgia do".

Well, the way I took what he said was more about "you still benefited from slavery whether or not you personally supported it or not".

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12 hours ago, arc said:

Well, the way I took what he said was more about "you still benefited from slavery whether or not you personally supported it or not".

I think he said it still fed your family or something like that. But man hes got alot of kids! And with his gambling problem its no wonder hes taking bribes. You know its bad when the crime boss is saying thats fucked up.

Im really liking the Hop Wei leader's son.. young jun i believe is his name.. for some reason i didnt think he could scrap.. but his scene in the begining was awesome! I died of laughter when he said: u think they will get the message?... i think they will get the message and they were both already gone!! Also sticking up for Ah Sahm to his father even though he did something stupid walking off the job and attacking the "ducks" in the "pond" i like too.

Its weird seeing job (Wang Chao) getting a bj from a woman i just assumed when the camera zoomed out it would be a guy. Speaking of Banshee.. did i mishear that the bar in the "pond" is called the Banshee??? If i didnt thats awesome they kept refering to the banshee murders.. i was like there were alot of those lol

Great second episode!

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I'm still getting some of the characters confused.  The couple near the end of the episode... was the guy (with all the scars on his back) Wang Chao?  Was the woman the sister of Ah Sahm?  I thought they worked for rival tongs.

The two Chinese at the very last scene, one was Wang Chao, who was the other?  When Chao said "his men killed last night"... he's talking about the two guys on the cart that were killed by Jun the Younger, right?  Who was the cop who died?

Loved the rap at the end, even if I couldn't understand a word of it.  Songs are hard.

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I'm genuinely into how political the show is.

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1x05: a fun, kickass episode.

Ah Sahm's secret knowledge of English isn't gonna be a secret too much longer. Young Jun might not blab right away, but I bet he'll slip sooner or later. And as it is he, Mai Ling, Wang Chao, Penny Blake, Big Bill all know. Li Yong probably knows/could guess. Father Jun and Bolo and Ah Toy and Lee don't know. And the rest of the main characters (Buckley, Mayor Blake, Leary) haven't met Ah Sahm yet.

Young Jun is second generation! That's a fascinating detail.

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On 5/4/2019 at 5:47 AM, arc said:

1x05: a fun, kickass episode.

Ah Sahm's secret knowledge of English isn't gonna be a secret too much longer. Young Jun might not blab right away, but I bet he'll slip sooner or later. And as it is he, Mai Ling, Wang Chao, Penny Blake, Big Bill all know. Li Yong probably knows/could guess. Father Jun and Bolo and Ah Toy and Lee don't know. And the rest of the main characters (Buckley, Mayor Blake, Leary) haven't met Ah Sahm yet.

Young Jun is second generation! That's a fascinating detail.

I greatly enjoyed this episode as well.  It was like a classic western, set in a small lawless western town (in this case it seemed really really small, like two buildings small) and then the bad guys come to town and the heroes battle them.

I'm curious about the relationship between the Chinese cook and the bar/brothel owner.  Seemed like such relationships were taboo but these two were openly carrying on.  I'm wondering if the cook actually spoke English or not... he must have, right?  Otherwise there would be no way for them to communicate with each other, and it seemed like the woman was talking with him in English.  If he spoke some bit of English, how come he didn't act as translator?

I'm also confused as to how much English Young Jun can speak.  He clearly has some broken English ("three whiskey please") but when the outlaw was talking, he seemed to perfectly understand him.  But then expressed complete surprise when Ah Sahm spoke English.

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Kinda funny that Jason Tobin and Andrew Koji are acting with an accent -- they're Brits who've adopted a more American accent for this show.

There's no redemption for Big Bill, is there? He threw in with a racist gangster and killed an old friend over gambling debts he stupidly racked up. Esp when he had won back his stake and much more and decided to lose it all again. Plus, Bill is one of the worst people on the show as far as outsourcing his dirty work. What did he see at the end of the episode? A coin?

Pretty neat to see how much no one respects the mayor. Buckley basically just manages upwards.

The Chinese New Year's celebration was a fantastic spectacle.

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On 5/11/2019 at 8:39 PM, arc said:

Kinda funny that Jason Tobin and Andrew Koji are acting with an accent -- they're Brits who've adopted a more American accent for this show.

There's no redemption for Big Bill, is there? He threw in with a racist gangster and killed an old friend over gambling debts he stupidly racked up. Esp when he had won back his stake and much more and decided to lose it all again. Plus, Bill is one of the worst people on the show as far as outsourcing his dirty work. What did he see at the end of the episode? A coin?

Pretty neat to see how much no one respects the mayor. Buckley basically just manages upwards.

The Chinese New Year's celebration was a fantastic spectacle.

Tom Weston-Jones (the policeman from Georgia) is also British as well.  

I'm not really sure why or how I'm supposed to care about Bill O'Hara when he is being portrayed as one of the show's villains.  Ah Sahm and Young Jun are portrayed as the heroes.  Bill O'Hara is the racist and dirty cop who is the thorn in their side.  He got himself into some financial trouble and now he feels guilty at having killed a former friend.  And I'm supposed to care that he is conflicted and crying?  Pffftttt.

Lee (Weston-Jones) is the only cop I think is worth caring about.  He seems like a good man.

Nice to get more backstory about Ah Sahm's sister and why she is married to that Tong leader.  It's been some time since we really saw Ah Toy (the madam / Robin Hood vigilante), right?  What has she been up to?

I'd like to get more backstory about Ah Sahm as well.  I'm assuming that's not really his given name... if they are pronouncing it properly, "ah sahm" would translate to "the third", so I've assumed he is the third of his parents' children (or more likely, maybe the third boy).  If so, what's the story with the other sons?  If he's not even the oldest, why is he the one who travelled to America to seek out his sister?

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Oh dang! I never made that connection and now I feel dumb.

fwiw, my mom’s family goes by birth order number too, even if some died very, very young. Only five grew up but my mom is still “number eight”.

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Should you watch it? I mean, it is a deliriously good time. There are no things I don’t love about it. I even love Bill, our miserly, misanthropic, casually racist cop. Excuse me, lieutenant. The show is slowly trying to redeem him—as if he was naturally good once, before the children and the Civil War and the alleged disenfranchisement of the Irish, and became racist against his will. I usually hate when a narrative assumes that history is a thing that just happens to people, but for some reason, I don’t really mind it. 

Wait, so I should actually watch it? Yes! It’s a campy action series with a lot of punching and kicking wherein every single actor seems to be having the time of their lives.

 https://www.theringer.com/tv/2019/5/15/18624557/warrior-cinemax-review-bruce-lee-tong-wars-san-francisco

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