Red Ribbon & ‘The Riddance Of Evil Must Be Thorough’ In ‘The Brothers Sun,’ Explained


In Netflix’s The Brothers Sun, we came across a group of masked rebels who called themselves The Boxers. The series began with The Boxers attacking Charles Sun at his own house in order to bring his father, Big Sun, out of his hiding. As soon as the leader of the Jade Dragon arrived at his own apartment, a bullet pierced his stomach, sending him into a coma. Soon after, Charles traveled to America to protect his brother Bruce and mother Eileen from these assassins. While investigating further, Charles found out that these assassins donned a peculiar “red ribbon” and chanted the mantra “The Riddance Of Evil Must Be Thorough” before finishing off their targets. These two aspects, along with the identities of these rebels, were kept a mystery until the end of the series, and therefore, I would like to explore their ideology in order to explain their motives in detail.

Spoiler Alert

Who were The Boxers?

While the history of the term “mafia” is quite blurry, it is sometimes associated with a group of rebels who raised their voices against oppression and pledged to put an end to tyranny by any means possible. These anarchists often resorted to extreme violence, because of which they were branded as criminals. As time went by, society went through a number of radical changes, and these rebels struggled to find their place in the new system. Those who continued their practices went underground and got involved in all sorts of illegal activities punishable by law.

It was a world of crime and chaos where not a single soul could be trusted. The gangsters couldn’t put their blind trust in outsiders, which is why they started bringing their own family members to run the “family business,” and that is how they became “crime families.” The same thing happened with the Triads, as portrayed in The Brothers Sun. They started out as rebels but eventually lost their way. The members of the Triads started exploiting their powers and became the evil that they had once sworn to eliminate. As the world started to lose its balance, a new group of rebels who called themselves The Boxers stepped up and decided to destroy these tribes completely in order to end their oppression.

Grace, one of the members of The Boxers, had told Bruce how her parents were treated as slaves in the first-world country, and when her father demanded freedom, he was publicly humiliated and brutally murdered as a warning. The Boxers wanted to eliminate the heads of the Triads completely, but for the general public, they were a set of ghosts. No one knew their real identities except for Eileen, which is why The Boxers kidnapped her to extract information about the ghosts.

Why Did The Boxers Wear Red Ribbons?

The Deputy DA, Alexis Kong, found a peculiar red bracelet on the wrist of the assassin who attacked Sure Sure Club. While going through the piece of evidence, she came across a hidden “QR code” inside these bracelets, which was linked to a secret chat room where The Boxers used to plan their next move. These ribbons also differentiated them from the rest of the crowd and helped them recognize one of their own.

As mentioned in The Brothers Sun, these anarchists didn’t really have a leader or a boss. They were faceless individuals in the crowd, united by a common motive. Perhaps most of these members never really met each other, communicated with the entire gang through these chat rooms, and planned an attack based on the intelligence that they had received. While scrolling through the chats, Alexis found out about the attack on Ka Spa, where Charles and Sleepy Lee had arranged a confidential meeting. The series never mentioned how The Boxers found out about the secret meeting between the two gangs, but they used the information to slay Sleepy Lee and his son so as to eliminate one of the biggest tribes.

What Did Their Mantra Mean?

The Boxers were a group of revolutionaries who were willing to shed blood for the cause. Throughout the series, we came across different instances where these rebels chanted their cryptic motto, “The Riddance Of Evil Must Be Thorough,” before committing a crime. It implied that these people believed in the philosophy of “lesser evil.” As per their ideals, they had accepted the fact that they had to become somewhat evil themselves in order to uproot the very source of evil. Their revenge should be thorough, which meant that they wouldn’t stop until and unless they had killed each and every head of the Triads and dismantled the criminal organization completely. And to achieve the greater good, they didn’t mind taking one’s life or giving up theirs. 

We didn’t know too many of these Boxers, but their actions suggested that they had a crooked sense of morality. They didn’t want to hurt an “old woman,” but they shot Blood Boots in cold blood because the man had killed many people in the past. So, judging from their actions, they believed that it was justified to kill anyone who had blood on their hands, but they respected an “old woman.” Additionally, these Boxers didn’t really dwell on their actions. Would they be able to live without remorse after they had won the war? Or perhaps they would fall into the same vicious circle and eventually become the evil that they had assembled to eliminate.

Will The Boxers return?

At the end of The Brothers Sun Season 1, Grace and her group of bandits attacked the Triads’ private meeting, thereby killing the majority of the ghost heads. However, during the attack, Grace lost her life, which means that she won’t be returning for second season

But going by their mantra which was to get rid of evil thoroughly, The Boxers still have a task to complete. They might have eliminated a lot of their targets, but the big players like Big Sun, Charles, and Eileen are still at large, which hints at the possibility that these rebels will regroup under a new name and a new commander who will lead them to Taiwan, where they will try to destroy the remaining members of the Triads and bring an end to the entire organization. The war between the Triads and The Boxers has just begun, and the next showdown will take place in Taipei with a lot more action and blood. Something tells us that in the war between evil and lesser evil, none of them will survive in the end, and Charles and his brother will eventually leave behind the family business to live a peaceful life in some isolated corner of the world.

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Shikhar Agrawal
Shikhar Agrawal
I am an Onstage Dramatist and a Screenwriter. I have been working in the Indian Film Industry for the past 12 years, writing dialogues for various films and television shows.

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