This gives this episode title that extra ‘Wataaah!’ of excitement because The Chinese Connection was an alternate title for Bruce’s second major Kung Fu film, Fist of Fury. The closest Easter Egg title of Season 1 was episode 9, “Chinese Boxing.” Every Bruce fan remembers Ah Gung (Chin Ti) saying “Chinese Boxing!” as he pointed at Bruce and gave him the thumbs up. For this episode to take on the name of one of Bruce’s most beloved films, it had better deliver. And it does, especially with the most important facet of Warrior, the Kung Fu fighting.
Young Jun Gets Stabby
The first fight of this episode is a showcase for Young Jun (Jason Tobin). In their quest for cheaper product, Ah Sahm hooks Young Jun up with a new molasses connection through his fight manager Vega (Maria Elena-Lass). They visit Happy Jack (Nat Rambulana), an African drug dealer. There’s some historical basis to this. During the period when Warrior is set, there were attempts to produce opium in South Africa to undermine the British dominance of the global opium trade.
Opium was weaponized by the British as part of its strategy to establish colonial rule. This was largely controlled by the nefarious East India Company that smuggled opium from India, mostly to cripple China’s port cities. In Chinese coastal provinces during the mid 1830’s, it was estimated that 90% of the adult Chinese population were opium addicts. In San Francisco, opium was still legal and taxable until 1889 when local ordinances restricted it to medical use only. But beyond the nod to history, Rambulana is a South African TV star and Warrior was filmed in South Africa, so his appearance works on several levels.
The deal with Happy Jack goes sour. This elicits a lovely bit of ultraviolence in which Tobin delivers a solid long take sequence. Long takes are the hallmark of good fight choreography because each movement increases the challenge exponentially. It’s a good showcase for Tobin’s Kung Fu and he sells his slice and dice attacks with a convincing ferocity.
Tobin has appeared in a few martial arts themed films before such as Beverly Hill Ninja, Rob-B-Hood, and House of Fury, but he’s most known for his other projects with Warrior’s producer Justin Lin including Better Luck Tomorrow and The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. Tobin is reprising his Tokyo Drift character in Lin’s upcoming F9, due out next year. In Warrior, Tobin nails the tough punk qualities of Young Jun perfectly. As the son of the leader of the Hop Wei, he’s been entitled yet he’s still eager to prove himself. His viciousness in battle is spot on.