AMC debuted their new series Into the Badlands this past week, and the series quickly became the top-rated new series of the fall season, landing a massive 6.4 million viewers, and edging ahead of both Supergirl and Blindspot.
The series, which was created by Smallville creators Alfred Gough and Mile Millar, tells the story of a post-apocalyptic feudal society in an area known as the Badlands. The Badlands are ruled over by seven rival Barons, who each enforce their rule with the help of trained assassins known as Clippers. The series focuses on the Badlands most lethal Clipper, Sunny (Daniel Wu), who serves Baron Quinn (Marton Csokas). After Sunny saves a mysterious boy named M.K.(Aramis Knight), and new Baron, The Widow (Emily Beecham) starts causing trouble, Sunny and M.K. "embark on an odyssey that could mean the difference between chaos and enlightenment for everyone in the Badlands."
Sounds kind of awesome, right? Well it is, and if for some reason you haven't managed to see it and fall in love with it yet then here are 6 reasons why Into the Badlands is about to become your favorite new series:
1. The unique dystopian setting
The beautiful setting for Into the Badlands is the first thing audiences are struck with in the opening of episode. Colorful fields of poppies wiz passed as we accompany main character, Sunny on his motorbike. Sunny introduces us to The Badlands, a world shaped by wars long ago, and now owned by seven Barons who "forged order out of the chaos."
While, admittedly, I'm normally an instant fan of any film or TV series set in a dystopian world, the bright post-apocalyptic world of Into the Badlands is a refreshing change to a genre that so often relies on harsh, desert-like environments to get its point across. The bright colors continue throughout the episode, and that coupled with the violence creates quite a jarring end result.
2. The badass and beautiful fight scenes
If you have any sort of affinity for kung-fu films, then Into the Badlands just became your new favorite show. The series pretty much opens with a beautifully choreographed fight, and then toward the end there's a show down between the Widow's men and Sunny that is nothing short of graceful.
The fact that the fight scenes are so kick ass suddenly makes sense when you realize that Stephen Fung was the action director on the series. Hong Kong-born Fung has directed other martial arts themed films such as House of Fury, and Tai Chi Zero, so obviously this guy knows his stuff. Aside from fight direction being spot on, the director of photography for the fight unit, Chris Moseley deserves a round of applause for the stunning camera work. As with many martial arts themed films and TV, Into the Badlands lays on the fight sound effects pretty thick, though they're certainly not so unrealistic that you're taken out of the scene.
3. The politics of the Barons
The introduction of the seven Barons is something which really intrigues me about the series. Obviously Sunny is loyal to one, Quinn who controls the poppy fields, and one of the others is the Widow, who controls the oil refineries, but with five other Barons still out there somewhere in the Badlands, it seems like we have plenty of potential for great storylines.
One hope I have for the show is that it explains how exactly the warring Barons and the feudal system came to be, and also how it was that seven people all agreed to ban guns. One theory is that all seven Barons used to be allies, and eliminated guns while they were still civil, but a proper explanation on this would be a great addition to the show.
4. The fascinating costumes
I really enjoyed the costumes in episode 1 of the show. First we saw Sunny in his long coat and vest, complete with sword slung over his back, in fact some of his accessories such as the spyglass and his motorbike even seemed quite inspired by steam punk. Later on at the Fort we met the colts, or "clippers in training," who were all dressed in the same simple uniform, definitely something you expect out of a dystopian show. Of course, as Barons, Quinn and the Widow certainly had the most impressive outfits. Quinn dressed in shirt and tails, and the Widow in her revealing, and appropriately colored, black dress showed off their rank as soon as they were on camera.
Some of the clothing in the episode seemed almost contemporary, while other pieces seemed straight out of medieval times. Because the series is set in a dystopia there is a total freedom with what the costumes may be, and I look forward to seeing more of the unique style throughout Season 1.
5. The welcome leading man
Quite simply, it was awesome to see a non-caucasian in the leading role. Daniel Wu, who plays Sunny is a Chinese American, a group which is drastically under-represented on TV screens. According to Fusion.net just 6.6% of main cast members on TV shows are of Asian descent (including Steven Yeun on AMC's other series The Walking Dead), and prior to Into the Badlands premiering there were just four current shows in which the main character is played by a character of Asian descent - Fresh Off the Boat, The Mindy Project, Master of None and Scorpion. Talk about a small group. It's awesome to see another actor of Asian descent finally taking on a lead role.
6. The original ideas
These days it's becoming more and more common to see films and TV shows that are reboots, spin-offs or adaptations. Into the Badlands first captured my attention because it was none of those -- a rare original.
While in parts it may seem like a Kung-fu series, in other parts it seems like a slightly Mad Max version of The Matrix, and then suddenly you even have flashes of the superhero genre sprinkled in when M.K.'s dark energy is revealed . Having seen only one episode, it's too soon to know which way the series will go, but I know that I'm definitely ready to invest my time finding out, are you?
Episode 2 of Into the Badlands will air on Sunday on AMC