HomeTelevisionWarrior Season 3 Review: Discover This Fantastic Series Ahead of Its Season Finale

Warrior Season 3 Review: Discover This Fantastic Series Ahead of Its Season Finale

Photograph by David Bloomer/Max

This should serve more as a PSA than a critique of the 3rd season of the Justin Lin-produced series Warrior which is currently streaming on Max. It is undoubtedly one of the most well-written, action-packed series available today, especially for martial-arts lovers. If this show is already on your radar, you likely discovered the first two seasons during the pandemic when its future was still very much in doubt. Thankfully, over two-and-a-half years later, the Jonathan Tropper-led series, based on the writings of the legendary Bruce Lee, has returned, and everyone should be watching its upcoming – hopefully just—season finale.

Warrior, which takes place in San Francisco following the Civil War, as rival Tongs fight for power in Chinatown, continues to have some of the best choreographed fight sequences you’ll find streaming today. Still, its latest season also looks to expand its narrative reach and scope further than it has to this point. A consistent theme that’s been present from the beginning is front and center early on—ambition.

Among the numerous aspirations, Mai Ling (Dianne Doan, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) looks for ways to expand her reach and power beyond Chinatown. Dylan Leary (Dean Jagger, Game of Thrones) pursues a political position to address Irish workers being pushed out in favor of cheap Chinese immigrant labor, and Young Jun (Jason Tobin, The Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift) seeks to prove he’s capable of leading the Hop Wei in place of his father (Perry Yung, John Wick: Chapter 2). All of these endeavors are ambitious, eyeing power in a world that views none of them as equals.

Shaping the course of the season is Chao (Hoon Lee, Banshee) who leads the Hop Wei to find plates to print fake money. While it provides the chop to pay off their debts and strengthen their footing against the Long Zii, it also brings unwanted attention from Secret Service agent Moseley (Nick Cordileone, Step Up 2: The Streets), along with his recruit Lee (Tom Weston-Jones, Dickensian), and causes tension between Young Jun and Ah Sahm (Andrew Koji, Bullet Train) after things get complicated between him and their printer Yan Mi (Chelsea Muirhead, Slo Pitch).

The season has been strong as a whole, but there are definitely some standout episodes to include. First, “No Time for F*cking Chemistry,” as new man of power Strickland (Adam Rayner, Tyrant) makes a move against Nellie (Miranda Raison, My Week with Marilyn) and Ah Toy (Olivia Cheng, See). Another is “A Soft Heart Won’t Do You No Favors,” which harkens back a bit to the remarkable western feel of “The Blood and the Sh*t” from the first season. And then “You Know When You’re Losing a Fight,” as the wedding of Mai Ling and Li Yong (Joe Taslim, The Raid: Redemption) ultimately leads to a heartbreaking tragedy.

The large ensemble cast is all well cared for by Tropper and his team of writers, as each gets their own rich subplots to explore, while keeping the narrative fluid. While remaining the face of the show, Ah Sahm features less than in the past, but it’s simply because of the vast and rich set of characters whom you care about. For example, you won’t be disappointed watching Ah Toy or Bill O’Hara (Kieran Bew, Beowulf: Return to the Shieldlands) rebuilding their lives after things don’t go as intended. It might be surprising how much depth the series has, exploring themes you might not expect for what could simply be an excuse to bring the audience fantastic martial arts. It has no business being as heartfelt and evolved as it is at times, but it makes sense with Tropper also having been behind another severely underrated series, Banshee.

While this season is more story-driven than its predecessors, the fight sequences are worth waiting for, because when they happen, they are as brutal as they are magnificently shot, and you’re going to want to watch them again. Aiding in that is the addition of the legendary Mark Dacascos who plays Kon Pak, the mentor and longtime friend of Li Yong. Watching the skillsets of Dacascos and Taslim on screen together is nothing short of breathtaking.

This has never been a series that’s shied away from showing the impact of a hatchet thrown or a sword swung, and nothing has changed with that. Whether it’s the quick knife work of Young Jun, the fists of fury of Ah Sahm and Li Yong, or the sheer brutality displayed by Leary at the close of the season’s penultimate episode, “All of Death is Going Home,” you won’t see any quick cutaways.

While there are a lot of things happening each episode, nothing is done without meaning, and it all intricately ties together. Characters often make decisions which cause a ripple effect felt by a character they rarely interact with on screen. As the season draws to a close, it has set a multitude of plans in motion that will no doubt commence with a fury of violence and irrevocable consequences for all its ambitious characters. The more audiences discover this terrific series, the better the chances are that it won’t have to be resurrected once again.

Warrior Season 3 is now streaming on MAX.

Ben Murchison
Ben Murchison
Ben Murchison is a regular contributor for TV and Movies. He’s that guy that spends an hour in an IMDb black hole of research about every film and show he watches. Strongly believes Buffy the Vampire Slayer to be the best show to ever exist, and that Peaky Blinders needs more than 6 episodes per series. East Carolina grad, follow on Twitter and IG @bdmurchison.

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