It may just be kicking off its second season, but “Into the Badlands” has wasted no time giving fans exactly what they want: The show’s epic fight scenes and cinematic world-building paving new ground for AMC’s genre slate.
We’re still following Sunny (Daniel Wu) — a former assassin who defended his Baron boss from threats near and far. Season 2 finds our hero in a very different place: Digging up relics in a mining prison, with threats around every corner. His mission is quickly laid out before him: Escape, no matter the cost.
A “Mad Max” component is thrown into the mix, adding a crazy new dystopian layer to the unique Chinese/Antebellum South feel of it all. The scope of this world continues to grow, and that variety is echoed in Season 2’s fight scenes.
“You know, this is a show that can possibly run a long time, so we have a lot of variety we’d like to explore in terms of the fights: We wanted to have a fight that’s funny, we want to have a fight that’s evil, a really dark one…”
The Season 2 premiere already gave us a taste of that: Sonny’s Jackie Chan-style fight scene bringing the humor as The Widow’s (Emily Beecham) ultraviolent “Kill Bill”-style rampage brought the pain. In his conversation with Screener, Wu teased Sunday’s (March 26) episode, and more hilarity is coming for Sonny and Bajie.
“In the second episode, there is a scene with [Sonny] and Bajie fighting that Mouse Trap character and they’re physically chained together,” Wu says. “So that, also, was an opportunity to add some comedy to the martial arts.”
Not only is Wu the executive producer and star of the show, his martial arts training informs each and every scene. His heavy involvement in the fight choreography and stunt work only helps to add authenticity to the tale — allowing the story to grow emotionally and visually.
There are recognizable elements here, for sure. Taking inspiration from classics like the likes of “36 Chambers of Shaolin,” “Legend of Drunken Master,” “IP Man” and everything in between. But even though it all feels familiar, Wu’s genius comes through in how he bends the formula, making something classic feel new and different.
At its core, “Into the Badlands” is the story of a man discovering his identity in an oppressed world. The love story and political intrigue definitely adds nuance, helping to push the story forward. But it’s in the genre mysticism and martial arts mayhem where “Into the Badlands” really shines — and honestly, there’s nothing quite like it on TV.
“Into the Badlands” airs Sundays at 9 a.m. ET/PT on AMC.