“You often approach new situations with an abundance of unearned confidence, preferring to rely on instinct to guide your way. You achieve victory through raw natural talent and your failures are only ever the result of your opponents’ blind luck.”

– the true nature of 99% of men, according to how they fight

I was watching Warrior on HBO Max, which is basically a martial arts action-drama series based in 1870s San Francisco, so you’ve got a whole bunch of real-life inspired political intrigue mixed in with crime drama and martial arts fights. Good fun all around. But for some reason, when the Irish antagonist, Dylan Leary, says, “the only way to to know a man is to fight him,” it really kinda drove in the goofiness of the premise to me. In the bigger picture, the narrative is about political tensions between Irish labor, Chinese immigrants, corrupt governance, and organized crime – but since the show is also about martial arts, we need to be convinced that “how good this guy can fight” is also a very significant factor in San Francisco’s history.

But fighting prowess rarely, if ever, means anything in real life. Leary’s philosophy of “I can beat people up real good, so that means I know a thing or two about society” is stupid. In the long run, whether or not Ah Sahm can beat him in a fight would have meant nothing in terms of Chinatown’s general history. This isn’t Goku fighting to make sure Vegeta doesn’t blow up the Earth, or Rocky ending the Cold War by knocking out Ivan Drago, it’s just two violent thugs taking turns slugging each other in the face. On that note, I was also pretty disappointed that Leary and Ah Sahm’s conclusive battle basically amounted to two thugs taking turns slugging each other in the face.

– James