“To a Man with a Hammer, Everything Looks Like a Nail” indulges in the much-talked about international fighting tournament, complete with a welcome cameo from former UFC Middleweight Champion Michael Bisping.
This recap of Warrior season 2, episode 6, “To a Man with a Hammer, Everything Looks Like a Nail”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
Warrior leaves San Francisco in “To a Man with a Hammer, Everything Looks Like A Nail” so that Ah Sahm can participate in that much-talked-about international fighting tournament. It isn’t quite a totally one-off episode – it advances the overarching plot and contains some stand-out moments that’ll certainly matter long-term – but it felt enough like one to play out as a refreshing change of pace, especially since nothing was going to equal up to that balls-to-the-wall blowout last week.
Besides, the fighting tournament is a classic device in martial arts film and television, with everything from Enter the Dragon to Bloodsport to the recent-ish Undisputed movies making fine use of it, so it’s only right that Ah Sahm should rock up near the Mexican border for an event that clashes cultures and styles under the auspices of Elijah Rooker (Conor Mullen), who has a personal connection to Ah Sahm’s manager, Vega, who he arrives with alongside Young Jun and Hong.
This is all the culmination of a much-teased story arc, obviously, but it’s also a fine excuse for a boatload of fights – there are probably more in Warrior season 2, episode 6 than the rest of the season combined – as well as a chance to show off a lot of different styles of choreography and excuse a couple of cameos. In plot terms, Ah Sahm’s winnings should be enough to cover the cost of opium that went up in smoke when Leary bombed Mercer Steel. On a character level, we get more of Vega but also more of the Ah Sahm, Young Jun, and Hong, who partnered up together last week. And a near-lawless border town allows for an aesthetic and vibe that both feel divorced from the usual grime of a semi-industrialized San Francisco.
It’s always nice to see former UFC Middleweight champion Michael Bisping, too, who here plays a smug English fighter – he can’t do accents – named Dolph. Bisping, even among cage-fighting circles, is a legendarily tough Hall of Famer who won a world title with one eye, and he has always been a charismatic self-promoter, so he’s a good fit for this kind of thing as he was in, say, Triple Threat and a number of other cameo appearances. “To a Man with a Hammer, Everything Looks Like a Nail” expects its audience to have some idea of who Bisping is, but it makes its point clear anyway by having him demolish a couple of no-name fighters while teasing his upcoming showdown with Ah Sahm, the payoff of which is a joke – Ah Sahm finishes him in one blow.
Ah Sahm gets a whole bunch of fights in Warrior season 2, episode 6, most against fighters with varying styles, just for fun. There’s a capoeira guy and a wrestler and a classical flipping wushu dude and a fella with claws, for some reason. None of the bouts are long or difficult for Ah Sahm, but they’re fun little capsules of choreography that are a delight for martial arts fans. Hong also gets his own chance to shine in a little throwaway scene in which he despatches three goons who’re stalking Ah Sahm with his whip-chain.
But it’s a big fight totally separate from the tournament that amounts to the real stand-out set-piece of the episode, mostly because of its relevance to the plot and the fact it results in a pretty major character death. See, as it turns out, Vega has it in for Rooker since he killed her father, so the whole thing has been a ruse so that she can assassinate him and escape with his wife (and her sister) Marisol (Maria Elisa Carmargo). This ploy is successful, at least at first, but it means that Vega, Marisol, Ah Sahm, Young Jun, and Hong all have to escape together, which is a larger-scale, much more dynamic fight, with much more real consequences. As such, after a couple of double-crosses, Vega ends up dead, shot by Rooker’s right-hand man. She dies in Ah Sahm’s arms while he assures her he would have stayed behind and started anew with her after their romantic liaison earlier in the episode.
Phew. That’s a lot going on in just one episode, but it’s handled really well and can’t just be dismissed as a standalone, especially since Ah Sahm and Young Jun return to San Franciso with the money to cover the opium losses but to a furious Father Jun, who demands to know what they’ve been up to. With Vega dead, Ah Sahm has also lost his outlet in the Barbary Coast Fight Pit, meaning that he’s going to have to find his fights elsewhere. I wonder where he’ll look?
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