By Jana Monji
If you remember the old tale of “The Tiger and the Fox,” then episode 7 is about divining who are the foxes and who are the tigers. Not everyone will survive this episode of Cinemax’ Warrior.
“The Tiger and the Fox” is a Chinese story that inspired the idiom 狐假虎威(hú jiǎ hǔ wēi) or a fox takes advantage of a tiger’s might. The story is part of the “Intrigues of the Warring States” about a time (475–221 BC) when China was much divided until two states. Qin and Chu defeated the others and, eventually, Qin emerged victorious, unifying China in 221 B.C.
This episode begins with an old Tiger. Long Zii (Henry Yuk) is in a safe house and sadly recalls, “For thirty years I was one of the most respected men in Chinatown; now I’m hiding out like some low level onion.” His wife, the duplicitous Mai Ling (Dianne Doan), attempts to comfort him, but he mournfully remembers, “There was a time I could walk down the street and not once fear a hatchet in my back because the street feared me. Now there’s no dignity in this.” While Mai Ling tells him he’s safe, he knows, “I’m not safe anywhere.”
In the last episode, “Chewed Up, Spit Out, and Stepped On,” Mai Ling and her lover Li Yong made arrangements with another tong, the Fung Hai, to assassinate Father Jun, but Father Jun lives. Father Jun’s condition to keep the peace was the Long Zii needed to deal with the Fung Hai but Long Zii knew that Father Jun was going to have him killed.
After the credits, the scenes changes to cavernous rooms in Chinatown. Chinese women of all ages are examining clothed girls in a dark shed. Slaver Zan (Lim Yu-Beng) offers her Lai (Jenny Umbhau), saying, “Her father sold her to me to settle a debt.” Then he adds, “even better, she’s never been touched.” According to Zan, she’s “still a virgin.”
Ah Toy suddenly interested when she learns that the girl is from a small fishing village in the Shandong province. She takes her home and tells her she’s safe and makes her a maid who cleans the brothel.
Zan is eager to make a buck and brings a wealthy White man there to deflower her, but Ah Toy becomes enraged and refuses the offer, but Zan brings the man back while Ah Toy is distracted. Ah Toy slashes both Zan and the White man, saving the girl from being raped.
This contrasts the situation of Penelope Blake (Joanna Vanderham) whose father, Bryon Mercer (Graham Hopkins), takes her to dinner in a fancy restaurant. He urges his daughter to use her feminine wiles to get her husband to give him the cable car commission because “if it doesn’t come through soon I’ll be forced to declare bankruptcy.” When Ah Sahm stands her up for their rendezvous at her art studio, she takes some drugs and lets her husband rut her.
Ah Sahm was going to meet Penelope, but learned that Father Jun had sent Bolo to kill both Long Zii and Mai Ling. That sends him to Ah Toy and who coerces one of her girls to tell her where the safe house is. Ah Sahm runs to save his sister and the show down with Bolo ends with Bolo, badly wounded by Ah Sahm, is fatally knifed by Mai Ling. After Ah Sahm leaves, Mai Ling kills her husband, but lets everyone but her lover Li Yong (Joe Taslim) believe that Bolo did it.
Mai Ling tells him, “It’s time; it’s our time.”
From there Mai Ling goes before the Long Zii who are waiting at Long Zii’s open casket. Playing the mourning widow, Mai Ling tells the story of the tiger and the fox. When her father told her the tale, even as a child, she understood, “the fox was just borrowing terror from the tiger.” Long Zii was the tiger but he was surrounded by foxes and “as he grew older and weaker, some of these foxes were fooled into thinking they were tigers.” Now the Long Zii tong must remind them who are the foxes and who are the tigers.
According to an article in Epoch Timesby Jian Zheng, the story was used to comfort the emperor of the state of Chu who worried that his mighty general, Zhao Xixu was the one who inspired terror in the warlords of the northern states. A minister used the story to imply that in reality the warlords were afraid of the emperor’s armed forces and not of General Zhao.
On the White side of town, we learn how officer Richard Lee is very much like Ah Sahm. In Georgia, he was in love with a black woman who was then murdered by his cousins. Lee remembers, “I heard her cry out.” Two of Lee’s cousins (Lance Elliott and Jason O’Neill) had been on to the two illicit lovers. His drunk cousins were holding her and molesting her. Nora fought back and enraged one of the cousins who took the sickle and “he killed her right in front of me.” Lee shot one man and then took the sickle and killed the other. “I buried Nora and left town that night.”Lee then murdered his cousins, buried his love and fled to San Francisco. There’s a bounty on his head, but Sergeant Bill O’Hara saves Lee and sends the bounty hunter packing after a beat down by his Chinatown squad.
As the Chinatown squad is busy dealing with the bounty hunter, they are missing the turf war beginning on their beat. Li Yong leads the Long Zii to face Young Jun and Ah Sahm who lead the Hop Wei. The screen goes black as they rush toward each other, leaving on the sounds of hatchets, swords and knives making the music of death on the streets on Chinatown.
Yet, it isn’t clear who are we to side with? The clever fox or the foolish tiger?
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