If you are a fan of martial arts films, you will fall in love with Into the Badlands. Set in an unknown time in the future, guns have been outlawed (can't wait to hear the story behind this) and the lands have been split up among several barons while the people either serve the barons by working in poppy fields or working as enforcers called clippers.
I did love the imagery of Sunny riding a motorcycle with a field of red poppies on either side. In an otherwise wasteland, the lovely flowers (and mothers to heroin) create a powerful landscape. Sunny, a clipper, who works for a baron named Quinn and has taken 404 souls thus far. After a very epic fight scene, we see that Sunny has mad skills. He rescues a boy named M.K. from a group of nomads who were commissioned by a baron named the Widow to find him for reasons unknown.
Then we meet the Baron, his wife Lydia and son Ryder. Quinn, with his large plantation-style mansion, southern accent and polygamist ambitions, creepily fits the slave-owner archetypes. I immediately liked his wife Lydia. She brushes off the fact that her husband is taking another wife by telling Ryder she knows she still holds Quinn's head and heart she would "gladly bequeath to her everything further south." It's clear right off that Quinn favors Sunny over his own son which causes tension between the two.
Sunny is in love with a woman named Veil, who reveals she is pregnant, which is apparently punishable by death. Why? Who knows? Another ambiguous plot point to be later explained. Veil pleads that they leave and go beyond the badlands but Sunny says there is no such place. Sunny then witnesses M.K. go beast mode and brutally beat some mini douche who tried to steal his necklace. After M.K. explains that when he sees blood, he goes super Saiyan, Sunny asks him about the necklace, which has an embossed image of a city on it, but M.K. remembers little except that it is a city beyond the badlands named Azra. Lo and behold, Sunny has a compass with the same symbol.
Sunny is accosted by a squad of clippers employed by the Widow. This fight scene was shot beautifully. The special effects skim the line just between impressive and Crouching-Tiger-unbelievable. Of course our hero vanquishes the goons and is approached by the Widow, who asks him to bring her the boy (M.K.) and Sunny realizes that there is more to M.K. than meets the eye.
As far as the fight scenes go, I can't think of one complaint besides the age-old question: why do the goons never just swarm the target all at once? Daniel Wu is the action star that we've all missed and from the trailers I anticipate that the Widow is fairly badass herself. The plot however is not very clear and the notable points are overused cliches so the first episode relies heavily on the action to ensnare the viewer. The characters seem fairly interesting so I am willing to give the second episode a view. As the story develops, it definitely has potential to be a breakthrough show. So overall, I give the first episode a solid eight.