Show of the week: Into the Badlands

Into the Badlands is the latest original drama from The Walking Dead channel AMC. Set in a post-apocalyptic future, it is a genre-bending blend of martial arts-meets-western-meets-futuristic-action-series.

Based loosely on the classic 16th Century Chinese book Journey to the West, considered one of the great novels of Chinese literature, the series is set on a future earth, after the planet has been ravaged by a disaster.

Chinese-American film star Daniel Wu stars as Sunny, a clipper, an assassin-come-soldier in the employ of one of the warlords who controls the Badlands. The story follows his journey and that of M.K. (The Dark Knight Rises‘ Aramis Knight), a seemingly average teenage boy who actually has special powers.

Wu sat down with TBI at MIPCOM to talk about his new series and says his move from film into TV was a physically challenging, if rewarding, one.

“On typical martial arts film there are maybe three or four fight scenes and it is filmed over six months, this had two per episode and I was in every one and was fighting every day in the Louisiana heat wearing a leather trench coat,” Wu said. “I have made almost 70 films, but this is the hardest project I have done physically because so much is happening in a short space of time.”

AMC has shown some of the most iconic cable series of recent years, from Mad Men to Breaking Bad to The Walking Dead and its companion shows. In the US and internationally it certainly sees Into the Badlands as a show that will sit well alongside smash hit zombie series The Walking Dead.

Speaking when the former was announced, earlier this year, Bruce Tuchman, president, AMC and Sundance Channel Global, said: “We think Into the Badlands and Fear the Walking Dead will complement each other perfectly as we continue to grow our global footprint and support our pay-TV platform partners in expanding their subscriber base.”

Into the Badlands should appeal to a wide selection of action fans, spanning, as it does, everything from martial arts to Western.

“In the simplest sense it is in the martial arts genre, but it is a little more complex than that,” says Wu. “It is combining a lot of elements of Western cowboy films, Asian martial arts films, but in a post apocalyptic America setting, so a it is a mash up of a lot of things and a lot of genres I enjoy. We have taken it all and put it into one, which has been the challenge but also the exciting thing about making this and its success will pivot on that. It is something totally different you haven’t seen on television.”

The show: Into the Badlands
The producer: AMC Studios
The distributor: Entertainment One Television
The broadcaster: AMC (US)
The concept: Genre-bending action series set in a post-apocalyptic America where feudal barons rule and clippers (soldier-assassins) enforce the rules