By guest author Thomas Tan
Spike TV, the unabashed cable channel dedicated to all things manly, has created a new show in the same vein as the moderately popular “Fight Science” and “Human Weapon” series. Like those other shows, it uses modern scientific equipment to gather data from historical weaponry and techniques. Unlike those shows, however, “Deadliest Warrior” makes no effort to be a cultured or sophisticated study of the martial arts. It bills itself as the next step in barroom debates over who would win in a fight to the death between two historical fighters. So far, the show has taken on an Apache vs. Gladiator, Viking vs. Samurai, Spartan vs. Ninja, and just last week the show was about a Knight vs. Pirate.
The show is brash and unapologetic. The modern representatives of the warriors are rude and insulting to each other, even the samurai-descended master of kyudo (Japanese zen archery). The hosts celebrate violence and dismemberment, cheering like a band of school boys as they watch slow-motion replays of the weapon in use against ballistics-gel humans and pig carcasses. The show is, for lack of better words, the ultimate guy show, on the same level as “Explosions Gone Wrong” and “When Animals Attack.”
However, speaking as a somewhat young man myself, there is something incredibly fun about the juvenile way this show is run. I find myself staring in awe along with them as the Apache decimates the fake skull with his tomahawk. Seeing the aforementioned kyudo master plant arrows right into the gel head’s eyes sends shivers through my spine. With the exception of the bad-mouthing and occasional historical inaccuracies, I love watching every minute of the show.
From episode: Shaolin Monk versus Maori Warrior
As martial artists, we often strive for that sort of Carradine-esque aura of serenity, especially when dealing with our most violent practices. But this show lets us embrace our inner “dude” for an hour, and watching the hosts’ enthusiasm can be enough to jump-start our own fervor. Beyond that, the show is still somewhat educational and intellectually stimulating, as the tests themselves are not completely objective and the results are open to viewers for interpretation. As long as we can recognize the show for what it is (a blatant excuse to test out historical weapons in a boyhood fantasy world), the show itself is definitely worth watching at least once. Just don’t mistake it for quality television.
Have you seen “Deadliest Warrior”? What do you think?