BLACK SASH (2003) – This program was basically a vehicle for Baguazhang-style martial artist Russell Wong and only produced 8 episodes, 2 of which were never aired. Wong starred as Tom Chang, an undercover narcotics agent who was framed and spent 5 years in a Hong Kong prison.
Black Sash was widely bashed in its day but here in 2021 it seems a little bit like an unappreciated program with unfulfilled potential. Part of the problem with the show was its neither fish nor foul nature. Despite the above premise it was NOT an action drama about Chang kicking butts and busting heads to clear his name and return to the force.
Instead it dealt with the main character moving to San Francisco and running a martial arts school while trying to reestablish a relationship with his 12 year old daughter and his remarried ex-wife. He also became a mentor and surrogate parent to his students. At least one fight scene against genuinely dangerous assailants featured in each episode, too, often having to do with Chang’s sideline as a bounty hunter.
But talk about hard to categorize! Think of Black Sash as Cobra Kai crossed with Dawson’s Creek. Or maybe an Asian-led variation of The Master, the old Lee Van Cleef series, with less action but with likable characters and more interesting dialogue. Or how about Michael Nouri’s show Downtown with troubled teens replacing the parolees who helped him fight crime? Continue reading