Have you been watching AMC’s new post-apocalyptic martial arts drama Into the Badlands? No? Well good thing we’re here to convince you! The Kollab Blog had the opportunity to go to a screening held in conjunction with CAPE to see the badassery firsthand along with a Q&A with the cast and creators followed afterward.
Here are our top 5 reasons why you should tune in to this epic series:
1) Daniel Wu. Born and raised in the Bay Area, Wu takes the screen as the leading man after a career in Hong Kong for 18 years. The 40 year old actor plays Sunny, a feared and ruthlessly loyal Clipper who begins to question his way of life, in the multicultural dystopian universe.
Fun fact: Daniel Wu was originally brought in as Executive Producer for the project but it became overwhelming clear during the audition process that he was the best fit for Sunny based on both his acting and martial arts experience. His role in this show was both physically and mentally challenging: If he wasn’t shooting then he was problem solving or coordinating something behind the scenes.
2) Aramis Knight plays M.K., a young man with yet-to-be-explained potential. This young talent, serves as an impetus in the story. Alongside Wu, they embark on an Odyssey across the land in which they learn, fight and grow. Who wouldn’t want Daniel Wu to be their mentor figure?
Fun fact: He is only 16! This kid’s got a bright future ahead of him.
3) Sure the show itself is intriguing but the opening credits alone are a work of art that blends East and West masterfully through an animated mix between contemporary comic book drawings and classic scroll paintings. Seeing the diverse names of the cast against the graphics and musical score feels like a huge high five moment every time.
Fun fact: It’s an empowering and beautiful intro that perfectly sums up the vibes of the show, made by none other than Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda.
4) The Badlands are a world that audiences have never seen before. It’s a deliberate mash-up of everything that the executive producers/showrunners/writers, Alfred Gough and Miles Millar (of Shanghai Noon and Smallville), think are cool: Asian Cinema, Pre-Edo Japan, Japanese Medieval Society, HK Cinema, Cowboy/Western, Dystopian Society… You can’t categorize it because it’s a unique world. Eventually you just don’t think about what it’s referencing, you just watch.
Fun Fact: “The story is very loosely based on Journey to the West’ which is how the Monkey King brought Buddhism from India to China. It’s about all these challenges he meets on the way and how they transform him from a rebellious, naughty Monkey King into a Buddha himself. So, that’s the real spritual backbone of the show — you see this character Sunny looking for something greater than he has known.”
5) It bringing Martial Arts drama to TV. Can you imagine a world without phones and email? In this series no modern electronics exist and martial arts is the great equalizer. Men and women alike fight hand to hand. But there’s more beyond the words and fighting. At the end of the day it’s about the compelling stories and complex people struggling with the common topics of power and freedom. The martial arts are just the visual eye candy and glue that helps to tell the story of spiritual and individual transformation.
Fun Fact: The actors went through a 6 week fight camp where they went through training with a elite team from HK led by Master Dee Dee, martial arts coordinator (Crouching Tiger, Matrix) to get in tip top shape for the fight choreography and learn the basics of martial arts.
Cover image courtesy of AMC