What Is Into The Badlands, And Why We Need It
AMC Brings us something that seems to not do well on other networks, but may work this time around. There seems to be an issue with sci-fi/action on television lately that deems it must be cancelled after a season or two, without giving the show a chance to breathe. I am talking about shows like Revolution, Terra Nova, Constantine (to an extent), and Jericho, all of these shows had great potential, with a strong fan base, but networks didn’t give it a chance because they couldn’t beat out other TV programs that brought in much more viewers in a shorter amount of time.
AMC’s latest show Badlands is a stylized action epic modelled after “A Journey to the West”, which focuses on Sunny (Daniel Wu) a badass “Clipper” whom serves the Baron Quinn (Marton Czokas), and is the Barons closest and most skilled soldier. Sunny is not your stereotypical sword wielding soldier either, he has a strong moral character, and will hold what is right above anything, even the Baron he has sworn to protect and serve.
The first episode in the series sets up the story and tone of the show, with the first 10 minutes showcasing an awesome stylized fight between Sunny and a band of scavengers, but also the story’s other main character M.K.. The fight choreography in this show is nothing to look past, because it is very well done, thought out and entertaining. Huan-Chiu Ku has been signed on for the entire series as the shows Martial Arts Coordinator, if you are not familiar with the name Ku has worked on many films such as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Kill Bill 1 & 2, and Black Mask. What also makes the action fluent and impressive is the fact that Daniel Wu has been studying Wu Shu since the age of 11, and was influenced by actors like Jet Li on the screen which were choreographed by Huan-Chiu Ku. Oh, I also forgot to mention that Ku was Jet Li’s stunt double on many occasions, so this is a perfect combination to have working together on Badlands.
The character M.K. (Aramis Knight) is a young boy with a strange past, that somehow is also connected to Sunnys past. This is what brings Sunny to bring him to the Baron and introduce him to the life of a Clipper. M.K is no ordinary boy though, as we see in the first episode that once he bleeds, he gains great, almost demonic strength and skill. This starts to make sense of why M.K. was initially found locked in a trunk, heading to some unknown location, or someone. What we do know is that The Widow, another Baron wants M.K. and will do whatever she can to get her hands on him.
Outside of the characters that are introduced in the first episode, the setting and world that has been created is refreshing. The world that was created for Into the Badlands is a mix of southern plantation sceneries and the wild west. Baron Quinn and all other Barons live in old plantation homes inside of large walled fortresses, and force their people to outside the gates. This makes sense though considering that the entire series takes place hundreds of years after the fall of civilization in the American Midwest. The area has now been called the Badlands and is ruled by the Barons, but is ruled unchallenged by Quinn as he is viewed as the most powerful Baron. We have seen other shows take this approach of “the world is over, and now we are back to feudal ruling”, but we get a whole new style and way it is being done, so it does not feel played out. The costumes are a mix of western wear meets colonial meets post apocalyptic apparel, which gives each character their own style, and allows each character to seem a little more alive with their own style.
This type of sci-fi is necessary on TV with every station being dominated by scripted reality shows, and copycat comedies. It is an original idea with solid production and a cast to back it up. AMC is known for taking chances on shows that end up turning huge, we have seen this with Breaking Bad, Mad Men and the still running The Walking Dead. AMC is also bringing us Preacher soon which will be another great addition to the channel and solid sci-fi on television. If something like this can work, and flourish on AMC it may give hope for other projects that were either tossed aside or not even considered because there was no market for it. With everything changing with film being dominated by high budget sci-fi action films and superheroes, it is time that television gets its turn. We have almost seen the comeback on Constantine with the massive ratings the character pulled by just appearing on another show, it proves that once the fans are behind you anything is possible.
Overall the first episode is very enjoyable with a lot of action and decent acting. Like many shows brought to AMC initially there is a short run for the first season (Badlands is getting 6 episodes to start), but as long as the fans show support and tune in to watch we will get a second season. It would be great to see this run to the end of the story’s timeline and be able to close properly, and not seen shut down like other shows.
Into the Badlands episode 2 will be on tonight at 10/9c after The Walking Dead, I highly suggest staying tuned in after TWD tonight and checking it out.