The Way of the Warrior

Katie Gee Salisbury
13 min readOct 11, 2023

How Bruce Lee Inspired Max’s Cult Favorite Kung Fu Show

Last Friday I finished watching Season 3 of Warrior, the Bruce Lee-inspired show set in San Francisco’s Chinatown circa 1878. The series follows the story of Ah Sahm, a mixed-race martial artist who sails from Foshan, China in search of his sister, Xiaojing, who has fled to California after escaping her abusive warlord husband, a man she was forced to marry in order to spare her brother’s life.

When Ah Sahm, played by Andrew Koji, finally lands in America, he has his “you’re not in Kansas anymore” moment. Passing through immigration he sees how his fellow Chinese are ridiculed and assaulted. A white immigration officer slaps him after he stands up for one of his countrymen. And though his impulse is to hold his head high and fight back — in a clear homage to Bruce Lee, Ah Sahm tastes his own blood and then proceeds to whoop the asses of three officers — it doesn’t change his new, searing awareness that the Chinese occupy the bottom tier of society in this foreign land. He’s soon conscripted into one of Chinatown’s tongs, the Hop Wei, and not long after discovers that his sister has remade herself on this side of the Pacific as the strong-willed wife of Long Zii, leader of a powerful rival tong and the Hop Wei’s mortal enemy.

the cast of Warrior, from left to right: Dianne Doan, Andrew Koji, Olivia Cheng, and Jason Tobin

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Katie Gee Salisbury

Author of NOT YOUR CHINA DOLL, a new biography of Anna May Wong, forthcoming from Dutton on March 12, 2024. Available for pre-order: www.notyourchinadoll.com