Sunday, October 11, 2015

Daniel Wu (吳彥祖) Leads New AMC Martial Arts Drama Series "Into The Badlands" - Premieres 16 November 2015

Who loves watching kick-ass martial arts movies?

Red Dot Diva does.

She was brought up on a constant fodder of martial arts movies. Ever since she was a kid, she has been relishing those action movies churned out by Shaw Brothers Studio, with actors Ti Lung, David Chiang, Wang Yu and Brigitte Lin gracing the big screen with their moves. In later years, Red Dot Diva continued to get kicks out of watching Jackie Chan, Yuen Biao, Donnie Yen, and Jet Li movies. Thanks to her Dad and an uncle who loved kung fu movies. She even has a cousin named after famous wuxia actress Chen Pei-Pei!

Which brings about how excited Red Dot Diva about AMC's new drama series "Into The Badlands", created by Alfred Gough and Miles Millar ("Smallville"). The 6-episode show is set in a dystopian world, 500 years from now, where guns have been outlawed. This gives a great excuse for AMC to bring back martial arts to our TV screens.

Best of all, the series features Daniel Wu (吳彥祖) as the lead character, a ruthless warrior with smarts named Sunny. Chinese American actor Daniel Wu is definitely dashing enough for the part, having done fantastic HK action movies like"One Night in Mongkok" and "New Police Story". It is also about time a high-profile TV show has a leading Asian actor, despite the laughable stereotypical notion that "all Chinese know martial arts". On the other hand, Red Dot Diva thinks the legacy of stunt work that has evolved from wuxia is a unique cultural heritage a Chinese can be proud of.

The world of "Into The Badlands" takes on a Japanese slant as well. Seven powerful feudal lords or barons are now the rulers of the Badlands. Roping in their own army of warriors called the Clippers (somewhat akin to the samurais), the barons fight for power, and control of the land and resources (and with all those lush poppy fields, most probably drugs too).

Due to their status, the Clippers enjoy privilege and wealth as they do their master's bidding. One of these is Sunny (Daniel Wu), whose super proficiency in wuxia has led him to be the Lead Clipper of to the most powerful baron called Quinn (Martin Csokas). When a new player called The Widow (Emily Beecham) launches a successful ambush on Quinn's transport business, Sunny stumbles upon a young boy M.K. (Aramis Knight) who possesses a lethal power and has a valuable bounty on his head. Thus, the duo begins on a spiritual adventure for master and apprentice to a place called "Home". 

The entire premise seems soulfully familiar to Red Dot Diva, an Asia-based martial arts movie fan who has followed the particular genre through the years. Also, judging from the SDCC 2015 trailer, the deft infusion of East and West feels more genuine than a lot of other shows in recent times.

Then, there are the many interesting female characters written in the show as well, like:
- Lydia (Orla Brady) - the shrewd and devoted first wife of Baron Quinn
- the mysterious and beautiful The Widow (Emily Beecham) who owns some pretty mean martial arts skills, and whose call sign is the Blue-Winged Butterfly
- the ambitious, soon-to-be new and bride of Quinn, Jade (Sarah Bolger)
- Quinn's personal doctor named Veil (Madeleine Mantock), whose honesty and loving nature are unlike many in the Badlands.
- young assassin Tilda (Alexia Ioannides), who works in service of The Widow, after being rescued from abuse by the baronness.

This looks very promising, as complex female characters add to the emotional landscape of any good story.

Just take a look at the "Into The Badlands" trailer here. It is unapologetically violent with lightning fast sequences (YES!!) and extremely bloody fights (totally Red Dot Diva's thing, BTW). About time some iconic dynamic HK-style fight stuff gets its deserved place on primetime TV.

Also, also ... That maroon coat, those lean wuxia-trained biceps, and those sunglasses?! Sunny is a veritable swoonable badass!

Red Dot Diva has not been very excited about a new series in awhile. "Into The Badlands" is giving her the right kind of feels. Hopefully, it will not fall into the territory of lame clichés.

Don't let her down, "Into The Badlands"!!


"Into The Badlands" will air exclusively on AMC Asia on 16 November at 11 AM (SG time), simultaneously with the U.S. premiere. The repeat telecast will be on the same day at 10 PM. AMC Asia can be viewed on Singtel TV, Channel 322.

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