Cinemax’s ‘Warrior’ Season 1, Episode 2: ‘There’s No China in the Bible’

Not being that familiar with the Bible, I can’t be sure, “there’s no China in the Bible,” but at least there should be Asia because Jesus Christ was Asian, but there is, of course, plenty of Chinese in Chinatown in San Francisco, but the problem comes when the Chinese venture outside of their assigned ghetto according to Cinemax’s “Warrior.”

In episode 2, we’re back at the dark docks of San Francisco. Five men from the more traditional tong who almost all sport shaved foreheads  and long queues, the Long Zii, are bribing a dock official to look the other way but a man that can be bribed once, can sometimes be bribed twice. The man walks away, but tips his hat to another threesome: three members of the Hop Wei. You should know these men by now–our anti-hero Ah Sahm (Andrew Koji), the man in charge of his tong-training Young Jun (Jason Tobin) and Bolo (Rich Ting), the established tong member who isn’t a fan of Ah Sahm.

The Long Zii trio are taken by surprise and the scripting uses this moment to establish that Young Jun, the son of a prostitute and Father Jun (Perry Yung) is a psycho who loves killing and sometimes dead isn’t dead enough. Bolo is the pragmatic one, telling Young Jun, “Hey, I think he’s dead.”  But Young Jun has to make extra sure.

Young Jun makes it clear by setting the shipment of opium on fire that this isn’t a robbery, because it’s revenge and not money that’s driving this, but do we really know who’s in the driver’s seat? That doesn’t concern Young Jun who lights three cigarettes and takes one while giving one to each of his companions. Is this a tribute to the times or to the Asian tobacco habits of today? It’s hard to say, but certainly  tobacco companies must be grateful that “Warrior” is bringing cool back to tobacco.

“Do you think they’ll get the message? I think they’ll get the message,” says Young Jun with a blood-spattered face. This all happens before the opening credits. We’ve solidified another point–Ah Sahm has a kind heart. He releases the horse from the cart.

If you were worried, there wasn’t going to be enough sex, but just blood-saturated violence, you’ll be happy to know that after the credits, we see Ah Sahm’s sister Mai Ling (Dianne Doan) in the orgasmic embrace with someone other than her old sugar daddy husband.  Li Young (Joe Taslim) uses the post-coital time to ask Mai Ling about her brother Ah Sahm. Mai Ling is sure that her brother will return to China, and that’s just what he wants, but he has the contract and is branded as a member of the Hop Wei. She doesn’t know that, but you think she’d know. Li Young and Mai Ling agree that it’s better that no one know the Mai Ling-Ah Sahm connection. After Li Young leaves, Mai Ling opens a drawer and looks at a simple green jade bi (a disk made of jade with a hole in the middle).

Back in his room, Ah Sahm is using his spare time to train, but we hear Mai Ling’s voice as she told him in episode one that her husband was brutal.  The woman she was died in his bed, “He beat me; raped me.” According to the woman now known as Mai Ling, that marriage was the only thing that allowed Ah Sahm to live. One has to wonder if Ah Sahm’s current surly manner is better or worse than his younger years. Has wisdom come with age?

Our wonderfully polite Southern gentleman,  Richard Lee (Tom Weston-Jones) comes knocking at the door of Sergeant Bill O’Hara (Kieran Bew). I counted five kids and a wife. The wife politely asks about Lee and learns he’s from Georgia and has no woman waiting for him there. Lee has come knocking because the Police Chief Flannagan (David Butler) has requested the newly formed Chinatown squad investigate the double murder outside the Irish pub, The Banshee. We know who the killer was, and that makes the inept guesswork comical. While it’s suggest that a small group set upon the two victims, Lee, with a small notebook in hand, makes some deductions based on his hunting experience and some common sense.

The victims, Morgan (Branwell Donaghey) and Davis (Kevin Murphy), were the two men who were caught by Lee beating three Chinese men with a hammer.  Lee concludes, this was the work of “an expert swordsman.” Lee was going to testify against those two men. In court, we saw the glowering presence of Dylan Leary (Dean Jagger).  Again, Leary is in the background as Lee investigates.

O’Hara goes into the pub and meets with Leary who tells him to find those “slanty fuckers.” Leary paid O’Hara money to prevent Lee from testifying against Morgan and Davis. Leary wants his money back, but O’Hara has gambled it away. Five kids and he’s gambling? O’Hara swears he’ll pay Leary back, but the interest is compounding and Leary’s just happy to have a copper in his back pocket (basically kissing his ass).

If you recall from episode one, the Long Zii interrupted our lecherous Young Jun while he was getting “sticky” upstairs in Ah Toy’s brothel. The Long Zii thugs were actually looking for Ah Sahm because he was looking for a certain lady. Ah Sahm knew one of Ah Toy’s girls passed the information and that doesn’t please Ah Toy. One young girl gets a brutal lesson although Ah Toy assured her she’s still be pretty.

In the daytime, we find the mayor’s wife, Penelope Blake (Joanna Vanderham) just outside of Chinatown. Her valet, Jacob, is inside a Chinese medicine shop asking for a double dose of some concoction for women. “Back so soon? She’s a small woman,” the merchant says. While Jacob is in the store, crazy Young Jun with Ah Sahm enters to get his extortion/protection money from the merchant. Penelope knows what’s happening, steps just inside the doorway and challenges the men, but Jacob warns her. Distracted, Penelope drops her glove and she and Jacob leave while a leering Young Jun says he’d wouldn’t mind some sexual action with “crazy duck bitch” Penelope. Young Jun gets his money, but when he turns around Ah Sahm has disappeared.

Penelope is accosted by two drunken Irish men who are doubly offended by “a rich bitch with her trained Chink.”  One hears Penelope call Jacob (Kenneth Foy) by his name and utters the title of this episode and takes Jacob to the ground and begins beating him. Penelope attempts to intervene, but is held back by the other man. When she bites him, he throws her to the ground and is about to kick her face when Ah Sahm deflects that kick and soon begins taking the two men down.

As it happens, Lee and his superior, O’Hara, are in the neighborhood investigating the murders we witnessed at the beginning of this episode. The Chinese come to pick up their own. “When it comes to the Chinese, we’re not cops, we’re janitors,” O’Hara explains. Although Lee has his notebook out, this murder won’t be investigated because O’Hara sees this as an occupational hazard for being in the tongs.

As they walk beyond Chinatown, Lee notices are a lot of Irish men lingering around around “The Sandlot” and O’Hara explains the reason these men are unemployed, saying, “Why pay for Irish labor when you can get three Chinks for the price of one?”

Lee believes the source of the problem is “the men who are doing the hiring and not the Chinese” but  O’Hara is surprised  to hear a Southerner talking about fair labor practices. Lee replies, “Just because I’m from the South doesn’t mean I condone slavery.” O’Hara replies that slavery still fed Lee’s family.

Lee notices the fighting and attempts to stop the altercation but the Irish man who was dealing with Penelope turns and slugs Lee who goes down. Our man Ah Sahm takes care of the Irish man and then pauses to extend a hand to Penelope and help her up, but he then gets cudgeled on the back of his head by our bad cop, O’Hara.

Although Penelope defends Ah Sahm, (“Wait officer he was defending us.”), but can only prevent the arrest of Jacob as O’Hara says, “What I saw was this one in a tong suit beating on two men and a cop.” Lee attempts to speak up but the truth becomes plain: O’Hara needs a scapegoat for the murder of Morgan and Davis and Ah Sahm will do. Even if there is as Lee declares, “No evidence to support that claim” because Ah Sahm is a member of a tong, O’Hara notes, “It’s a pretty safe bet that he’s guilty of something.” At the precinct, Ah Sahm pretends to not understand English when Lee asks his name for the sake of the police report, but O’Hara tells him to write him down as “John Chinaman.”

Penelope appeals on behalf of Ah Sahm to her husband in his office but he brushes her off. After bumping into her father who tells her her sisters miss her, she then goes down the halls to talk to O’Hara and asks to see Ah Sahm. O’Hara leaves them alone because he’s sure that the Chinaman doesn’t understand English. Hesitantly Penelope introduces herself as Penny Blake, “I wanted to thank you and I wanted to know I’ll do everything I can to thank you.” She wonders out loud if O’Hara is right and if the hachet-carrying Ah Sahm is a murderer.

“I’m not a murderer,” Ah Sahm tells her just as she turns to go. But he realizes that he’s already guilty and speaking American English isn’t going to help him.

Back in Chinatown, his tong has given him up for his foolishness. Young Jun asks but there’s nothing within the tong’s power and Wang Chao can’t help him either. Father Jun (Perry Yung) notes, “We can’t own; we can’t vote” and yet “somehow we’re responsible for the economic woes of their entire nation. They hate us because they fear us.”

For our second soft porn scene, we have our wheeler dealer Wang Chao taking a white prostitute: full frontal nudity of the woman and a back side of the man, Wang Chao (Hoon Lee) revealing a scarred back. Post-sex, Wang Chao discusses Ah Sahm’s fate to a disappointed Ah Toy. Ah Toy is worried about something called the Chinese Exclusion Act (which will pass in 1882), but Wang Chao assures her it won’t pass because it is “bad for business.” He also believes that there will always be a Chinatown and that even a tong war is good for business. Ah Toy warns that working all the angles is dangerous, but Wang Chao replies, “America isn’t a place to live a long life; my philosophy live fast die rich” preferably with “a duck girl riding me like a thoroughbred” in a brothel.  While Ah Toy notes that Long Zii and Father Jun have always kept the peace, Wang Chao knows that Long Zii is no longer calling the shots.

Wang Chao isn’t the only one who plays all the angles. While Penelope is speaking with Ah Sahn, her father, Byron Mercer (Graham Hopkins), is having a heated discussion with her husband, the mayor. Mayor Samuel Blake (Christian McKay) has promised Mercer the exclusive contract to the cable cars, but because of a delay in the project, Mercer is accruing interest on a loan he took to buy all the steel, with more arriving daily. All of that needs to be stored in a warehouse and the warehouse fees are an increasing financial burden. Our wizard behind the curtain, Walter Buckley (Langley Kirkwood) suggests that Mercer’s business was on the brink before his daughter married the mayor.

In the end, the stalling seems to be engineered by Buckley. The mayor reminds Buckley that “I did give him my word,” but Buckley replies, “He did give you his daughter.”  Buckley’s compatriot in behind the scenes manipulations, Mai Ling is back in the bedroom with her sugar daddy husband, Long Zii (Henry Yuk). He’s reminded of his old age and while Mai Ling feels the Long Zii need to get into the opium business, he worries about the danger of breaking the treaty. For Mai Ling, opium is the future and “the longer we wait, the more powerful the Hop Wei  become,”  but Long Zii advises, “If there’s one advantage to old age, it’s perspective. I need you to trust me.” The bigger question is: Can he trust Mai Ling? Oh, older men with much younger women, take a look in the mirror before you answer that.

The episode ends with Li Young and Wang Chao having a discussion with the dock watchman that ends with what the police will probably see as a suicide. There may be no China in the Bible, but in “Warrior” there are different levels of good and bad and “Warrior” continues to weave a complicated issue of ethics, loyalty and a racial fabric that has more than just the values of black and white.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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