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TV Review: Into the Badlands (Season 1) (2016)

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SYNOPSIS:

Set in a world centuries from now, “Into the Badlands: The Complete First Season” focused on the spiritual journey of Sunny (Wu) and M.K. (Aramis Knight), a teenage boy who harbors a unique ability, and their growing relationship as teacher and student. Both discover their true purpose and decide to explore what lies beyond the borders of the Badlands, but as their Baron Quinn continues to battle against his own family as well as his rival Baron The Widow, Sunny and M.K.’s journey to a more peaceful existence seems further out of reach.

REVIEW:

Opener:
“The wars were so long ago nobody even remembers. Darkness and fear ruled until the time of the barons, seven men and women who forged order out of chaos. People flocked to them for protection. That protection became servitude. They banished guns and trained armies of lethal fighters they called Clippers. This world is built on blood. Nobody is innocent here. Welcome to the Badlands.”

AMC continues their trend with introducing compelling, action-packed dynamic TV series by taking a different direction than their trending zombie success creations. “Into the Badlands” lends more to a Tarantino-style run than one of horror and apocalypse. The show, much like “The Walking Dead” which also had a limited season 1 run, begins its first series on a limited 6-series introduction, a uniquely small run for a TV series. At the time of debut, I was instantly taken with this show and then left wondering if I had missed something with it shutting down on episode 6. None the-less, the show has been announced as being renewed for a season 2. The show is a creation under the team of Alfred Gough and Miles Millar.

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The series combines high action martial arts with a plantation-style setting that speaks of Barons, badlands, and a seemingly chosen one in the form of teenage boy harnessing special powers. Our star performer here is actor Daniel Wu who stars as Sunny, the head clipper and chief warrior who works for Quinn, the reigning baron of these parts.

Sunny, a proficient fighter is skilled in various weapons that accent his lightning fast martial arts moves. The series wastes no time in showcasing this agile fighter as a top gun possessing skills unmatched by his challengers and those dumb enough to cross him.

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The series focuses on a time period set in the future that speaks of days past rich in darkness and chaos. The barons came along providing protection and work for those willing to serve them. Now with a ban on guns, it is the skilled that rise above in the ranks often acting as bodyguards to the various barons who each have their share of skilled fighters. The series simply sets the tone for a number of highly choreographed and impressive battles that has the best of the best often engaging in a display of moves and speed.

“Into the Badlands” focuses on 2 primary barons, Quinn and “the widow”, both fighting for and making claims on prime territory while also embracing a rather dark and diabolical demeanor. Each equipped with faithful fighters and servants plot against the other in a conflict over power and land.

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Emily Beecham as Minerva (The Widow), additionally provides some rather impressive action sequences using swordsmanship and martial arts moves that provide enough credibility as to her reason for being Baron to reckon with.

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The series while instantly a smash for martial arts fans takes a bit of time to fully engage its audience. The abstract time period and story line are a slow grind intended to build under the visuals and screen dynamics. At current there is nothing like this on TV let alone matching its feature style fight performances. These alone make the sitting a worthy treat though its the storyline that will pull interest into its characters. 6 episodes may not be enough to gain a dedicated following though it certainly sets the tone and pace of things to come.

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The series intention was to mash-up genre’s in its span of 1 hour episodes. Scenes were directed by Stephen Fung and choreographed under Hong Kong talent, Ku Huen-chiu. The production was filmed in Louisiana.

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Into the Badlands” succeeds in delivering some of the hottest fight action sequences on screen while melding perfectly into an alternative future universe that incorporates a retro-like setting making for a new cult TV series.

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