SPOILER ALERT-Do not read if you have not seen season one of Into the Badlands.
Into the Badlands is an exciting show with some of the best, if not, the best martial arts fight scenes on television.
The setting for this series is in a dystopian future where the world has suffered through a series of wars which have left a feudal society as the working form of government. This new world is ruled over by seven men and women who are known as Barons. The technology is artificially limited to the early 20th century with one exception: no guns. The Barons maintain law and order by using a highly trained, lethal group of warriors called Clippers. As with any feudal society, there is a considerable amount of political intrigue, betrayal, and life changing secrets.
The show is beautifully filmed and the production values are exceptional high. As I mentioned earlier, the martial arts fight scenes are spectacular. Daniel Wu (star and Executive Producer), Stephen Fung (Executive Producer), and Master Dee Dee have combined their considerable talents to give us the intricate and exciting fight scenes. All of the actors went through extensive training in basic Kung Fu, weapons, choreography, and working with wires. Click here for webisodes from their “fight camp”. If some of the fight scenes remind you of the Matrix, they should. Master Dee Dee worked with Keanu Reeves and the production team on the Matrix.
Here is a summary of the key players in season one of Into the Badlands:
Sunny – The regent or Head Clipper for Baron Quinn, a heartless killer with unparalleled martial arts skills. He has a secret that causes him to question his very purpose in life. His secret is that Veil is bearing his child.
Quinn – A ruthless baron, who is suffering from a fatal brain tumor.
The Widow – A brilliant martial artist who is the widow of a baron she murdered. She knows there is a youth with powers but she does not know it is M.K. She trains her girls to be great warriors and thinkers. She has great visions and plans for the future.
M.K. – A mysterious youth who is overwhelmed by a dark fighting force when he is cut. He is being pursued by several factions, who want to make use of his power.
Lydia – Quinn’s first wife is the mother of his likely heir, Ryder. She is ousted in a palace coup by Quinn’s second wife, Jade. She is innocent.
Jade – Quinn’s second wife is ambitious and the lover of Ryder. She framed Lydia as perpetrator of her poisoning.
Ryder – Lydia’s son, the likely heir to Quinn’s estate, Jade’s lover, and the betrayer of Quinn by working with The Widow. He isn’t as smart as he believes.
Veil – She is the secret lover of Sunny and the doctor who eventually treats Quinn. Her parents were murdered by Quinn since they knew of his illness. She is also pregnant with Sunny’s baby.
Tilda – A fiercely independent young woman who is being groomed by The Widow for bigger things. She knows who M.K. is but hides his secret from The Widow.
Waldo – A former mentor of Sunny. He gave Sunny a chip to take to the River King for passage. He is the traitor who has been working with The Widow to overthrow Quinn.
Throughout the first season, these characters were involved in a maelstrom of deceit, intrigue, betrayal, and violence. By the end of the first season, all their lives were thrown into upheaval, if they were lucky enough to survive. Here is where we were left off:
– Sunny is prisoner on a boat to be sold after his attempt to deceive the River King fails.
– Lydia has been banished by Quinn. She goes back home to her father’s ministry.
– Quinn is killed by Sunny.
– M.K. has been captured by monks who knew exactly what it took to disable him. They have the same ability as M.K!
– Jade survived her “poisoning.”
– Ryder avoided death at the ambush for Quinn when Sunny intervened.
– Veil is left to raise the baby alone.
– The Widow survived her wounds but she reveals that she was like M.K.
Although the fans love this show, the critics have been somewhat lukewarm to it. The critics cannot get past the martial arts. I believe they miss the fact that the characters are compelling and complex, the story engrossing, and the action sequences are out of this world.
The previews for season two promise more exploration of the characters and their previous lives. We will learn more of the history of this new world as we explore different locations. The first season was filmed in Louisiana. The second season will include Ireland as a filming location. We will be introduced to new characters as well. One of the new characters, Bajie, will be played by Nick Frost (of ‘Shaun of the Dead’ fame). The previews of season two promise that he will bring a comedic element to the show.
Based on the previews I have seen it looks like season one of Into the Badlands served as a warmup to a more intense and exciting second season. Without a doubt, AMC is setting a new standard with all their shows and Into the Badlands is just the latest example.
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