Three Reasons to Watch AMC’s “Into the Badlands”

Two weeks ago, following a tragic episode of The Walking Dead (WARNING: SPOILERS), resolved on Sunday, AMC premiered Into the Badlands.

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Credit: Film Combat Syndicate 

Into the Badlands, a “genre-bending martial arts series” unfolds the journey of a warrior, Sunny and young boy, M.K. through a dangerous feudal land in hopes of achieving enlightenment:

AMC’s goal for “Into the Badlands” was twofold: produce a compelling character drama, and introduce the highest caliber of martial arts filmmaking to a weekly, ongoing series. Left in the hands of creators Alfred Gough and Miles Millar (“Shanghai Noon,” “Smallville”), the six-part series stars Daniel Wu as ruthless, prodigiously skilled warrior Sunny, who mentors teenage boy M.K. during a spiritual journey across a feudal civilization known as the Badlands. With the help of trained assassins like Sunny, called clippers, the area is ruled by rival barons, and for decades Quinn has consistently outflanked and outmaneuvered his fellow barons to keep the upper hand. His invincibility, however, begins to fade in light of brazen attacks by the newest baron, The Widow, who believes M.K. is the key to her success. As the battle for control of the Badlands heats up, the destinies of the stoic assassin and the impetuous teenager become intertwined.

The series’ producers also said it is loosely, very loosely based on one of the four Chinese classics: Journey to the West. If high quality martial arts, sans special effects, can’t convince you to watch this on the small screen, perhaps the following three reasons may sway you:

1. 吴彦祖, Daniel Wu not only stars as Sunny, but serves as an executive producer on the show.

Sunny, the romantic action male lead, exudes masculinity, portrayed well by Chinese-American Wu. He’s also easy on the eyes, and oh, as a nice little tidbit, married to American model Lisa Selesner.

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Credit: Frbix.com 

Wu, in an interview with Slate, revealed how he came to portray Sunny and how AMC had no qualms about an Asian male lead. AMC is the same network responsible for The Walking Dead, featuring an AMWF couple and a strong Asian male character. He also divulged where Journey to the West elements come into play:

By spiritual aspect, do you mean the elements drawn from Chinese mythology?

Yes, because the plot is loosely, very loosely, inspired by Journey to the West, the story of the Monkey King, who’s this rebellious, ornery character that eventually transforms into a buddha by the end of the story. The Chinese name for the Monkey King is Sun Wukong—Sunny. And the journey of the title has Sun Wukong tasked with guiding a monk to retrieve the wisdom of enlightenment. M.K. stands for Monk. But the parallels don’t get any more literal than that. Journey to the West has been adapted so many times that we didn’t want to rehash it—we just wanted to give our story a solid spiritual core. Sunny and M.K. are on a quest to escape the Badlands to reach this legendary city called Azra. Well, originally the city’s name was Nirvana, but we thought that was a bit too obvious.

2. The show features an interracial couple: Sunny and Veil.

Although their relationship is secret, and will remain so after a traumatizing loss in the second episode, viewers were treated to a steamy scene in the premiere. Very different from Jet Li and Aaliyah’s portrayal of an interracial couple in Romeo Must Die: a kissing scene on screen wasn’t well received by test audiencesIt’s nice to know progress has been made 🙂

3. Women like Minerva, better known as The Widow and her children kick butt as well, and in some ways, better than the men.

There’s strong female characters in the show, rivaling the men. The Widow, a baron, lives to bring down Sunny’s baron, Quinn. Her martial arts skills do not rival Sunny’s, however, they do outshine many of the supporting male characters. Her clippers, fighters like Sunny, and those in training, are all young women. In episode two, one of these young women, takes down a nomad fighter, and does so swiftly, powerfully, and without anyone else’s help. Do I really need to say more?

I didn’t think so! You can catch up on Into the Badlands on AMC, then tune in on Sundays.

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