The Show Building on the critical and financial success of comic adaptation The Walking Dead, Breaking Bad prequel Better Call Saul, and um, I’m not sure what else (at the time), AMC decided it would be a good idea to release a six-episode post-apocalyptic martial arts series utilizing Southern plantation life, steampunk aesthetics, and wire-fu. It was a crazy idea, but holy crap, was it a good one! Into the Badlands stars Daniel Wu as Sunny, the right-hand man/assassin/enforcer for Quinn (Marton Csokas) the Baron of his region. Right out of the gate, this show is all about world-building, giving the audience something familiar but strange, allowing viewers to buy into this version of the future while also blurring the edges a bit in order to play fast and loose with realism. Using a crack team of Hong Kong stunt coordinators under the lead of the brilliant Master Dee Dee (Iron Monkey, Fist of Legend, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Kill Bill Vols. 1 & 2), Into the Badlands brings more bad-assery in six episodes than most TV shows can hope for in multi-year runs or most films can squeeze out of a franchise. Wu is up to the task as Sunny, and each member of the cast steps up and brings their best kung fu to the small screen. Which is necessary, as the central conceit of the show is that guns are banned, so everyone uses swords, staffs, daggers, or any of a variety of fighting styles that fans of Hong Kong action will drool over. There’s palace intrigue, political intrigue, and some sort of supernatural intrigue, all swirling around each other, making Into the Badlands a very intriguing show from its opening moments. The main thrust of the plot centers around a young man called M.K. (Aramis Knight) who has the special ability of harnessing his “Dark Chi” when his blood is drawn, turning him into a mindless murder machine. He’s from a mythical city across the wasteland, Azra, but is being hunted by The Widow (Emily Beecham), a woman who claimed the Barony of her late husband in a feminist/anarchist power-grab that has set tensions aflame. Sunny saves M.K. from nomads and returns him to Quinn’s compound to train as a Colt – or an assassin-in-training. They’re actually called Clippers, which makes Colt a forced acronym for Clipper-in-Training. They technically should be called Clits, but… There’s way more story packed into this show than six episodes should allow, but it never gets boring or all that confusing. The finale also leaves us in a great place to kick off the ten-episode second season that’s coming up in 2017. Until then, Into the Badlands is definitely something you should take a look at, especially with the loaded set of extras this Blu-ray package includes. The Extras Inside Into the Badlands: This is an episode-by-episode post-mortem, that delves into the plot dynamics, casting, action, and allows the show’s creators, Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, to share insight into what they were intending to do with the show and where it’s heading. You might recognize their names from such works as Smallville, Lethal Weapon 4, Shanghai Noon, and Spider-Man 2. Anatomy of a Fight: This is an episode-by-episode breakdown of the major fight sequence for each episode of Into the Badlands. Producer and Fight Director Stephen Fung and Producer/Star Daniel Wu introduce these short pieces, which, along with the Inside Into the Badlands featurettes, were originally produced for the AMC website. They provide a nice look at all the work that went into each fight scene, from the different styles of Kung Fu, to the varying weaponry used, to the complexity of the wire-work on display. Building the World of Into the Badlands: This is a short piece on the world-building that goes into the show, with an emphasis on how the set design combines steampunk and kung fu. The Characters Of Into the Badlands: The Barons: A short breakdown of Baron Quinn, his family, and The Widow, providing some background into the characters, their motivations, and their goals. The Characters Of Into the Badlands: The Clippers: A short breakdown of Sunny’s role as Regent, as well as M.K. and Tilda (Ally Ioannides). The doctor Veil (Madeleine Mantock) is also included here for convenience’s sake, with a discussion of her role as both a free woman and Sunny’s secret lover. The Master: Into the Badlands Fight Camp Episode 1: These three featurettes detail the pre-production work done in New Orleans at the “Fight Camp” for Into the Badlands. The first focuses on the setting up of the training facility, emphasizing that nearly everyone in the cast would be called upon to perform a variety of stunts and this was a way to get everybody in shape and on task. Creating Real Kung Fu: Into the Badlands Fight Camp Episode 2: This installment focuses on the use of authentic martial arts techniques that we don’t see a lot of in US television. Bringing It All Together: Into the Badlands Fight Camp Episode 3: This installment is all about what the title says: bringing it all together. Into the Badlands Digital Comics: Three issues of the Into the Badlands comic book mini-series. Each issue focuses on a single character’s past, helping to flesh out the characters and their world. Issue One is all about Quinn’s childhood and how he went from being a field hand to getting accepted as a Colt. Issue Two is about how Sunny came to The Fort, and Issue Three covers M.K.’s last few days before the opening of the series. The digital comic format is a little annoying, as it just presents the pages full screen and scrolls down, forcing you to pause if you want to read and take in the art. Writers Matt Okumura and Justin Doble keep things simple and straightforward. There’s not a lot of heavy symbolism or deep storytelling going on here, but it works well enough. The art is by Steve Ellis and does a great job capturing the likenesses of the characters and keeping the action dynamic and clean. They’re a nice addition to the Blu-ray, but would be even nicer as a downloadable .pdf. Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.