[Recap] C2E2: ‘Into the Badlands’

Into the Badlands is the post-apocalyptic martial arts spectacular that you may not know about and that you NEED to watch.

Into the Badlands

Those of us without cable had never heard of it until the first season appeared on Netflix. It was one of those shows with an interesting cover and premise that caught our attention. I love martial arts movies and post-apocalyptic movies. I’m also a huge B-movie fan, so this seemed right up my alley. Once I watched it, I realized that this was no B-movie.

into the badlands action screenshot

I was BLOWN AWAY by Into the Badlands. Everything about this series captured my attention: the acting, the fight scenes, the story arc, the costuming and the scenery. It was a show that I couldn’t get enough of, the six-episode first season left me wanting more. So I patiently waited for AMC to release the next season to Netflix. The next season was even better, as was the first half of the third.

Unlike most post-apocalyptic shows, this is neither dystopian nor utopian.
Smallville creators Alfred Gough and Miles Millar created a unique world where mankind and the Earth has survived, and even flourished in areas. Into the Badlands is focused on a society that based its foundations on feudal Japan.

Daniel Wu is Sunny, a martial artist, a professional killer, lover, and father, caught in a war between feudal lords and religious zealots fighting for control of the Badlands. 

Into the Badlands Pilgrim

AMC’s Into the Badlands had a panel at C2E2 showing the premiere of their final few episodes, and PopCultHQ.com had the honor of being there and at the press panel that occurred afterwards. The work and dedication that goes into every aspect of this show is clearly visible and after attending the press conference, I can tell why the show is so great.

Sean Cho and Daniel Wu from into the badlands
Cosplayer and propmaker Sean Cho of XeroProps had a fantastic cosplay that earned the approval of star Daniel Wu

By now, everyone (those that have the AMC network) has seen the first few episodes of the final arc. We saw lots of drama and a cornucopia of fights such as The Widow vs. The Master, Pilgrim vs. Sunny, Bajie vs. one Harbingers.

The showing was followed by a Q&A panel featuring Daniel Wu and co-creators Al Gough and Miles Millar. The panel discussed the show’s diversity.

Into the Badlands Panel

The producers not only brought Daniel Wu in as martial arts consultant, they gave him the starring role. Daniel was initially brought in as a martial arts consultant and executive producer. He didn’t think he’d be starring in the show since he was 40, and he thought that the show needed a young star to keep the martial arts action for the series run. After auditioning several actors, the creators decided that Wu would be the star.

What truly makes this show spectacular is the dedication from the actors. Each of the stars undergo intensive training so they can do their own stunt work, giving us a sense of realism and some spectacular action shots.

All of the fight scenes use the abilities of the stars themselves and emphasize their strengths. Emily Beecham (The Widow) apparently enjoys wire work, so her fight scenes involve a lot of fast-flying aerial action, while Nick Frost (Bajie) is a powerhouse whose fight scenes revolve around strong kicks and punches.

nick frost into the badlands

During the panel, Wu stated that due to the complex arcs and character depth, Sunny is his favorite character he’s ever played. He also said that if the fight scenes don’t matter to the plot, then action shows become “like porn,” where you fast forward through the story just to see the good stuff.

Many aspects of this show deserve awards, but the stunt coordination and fight scenes are truly worthy of all the recognition they can get. Unfortunately the Television Academy (Emmys) seems to have overlooked them.

The Matrix elevated fight scene filming, but the martial arts work on Into the Badlands has given us new standards for fight scenes themselves.

News of Into the Badlands ending after season three was met with a great deal of disappointment from fans, but didn’t necessarily come as a shock. Ratings had been in decline for a while, but not because the stories have been suffering. The problem is more than likely rooted in AMC’s lack of enthusiasm for the series, which saw a significant drop after season one.

Despite AMC’s heavy promotion of the first season, it just didn’t become the monster hit they wanted, but it still didn’t stop them from renewing the series for a 16-episode third season at the the beginning of season two. Unfortunately AMC’s lack of enthusiasm for the second and third seasons, as evident by their lack of promotion, seems to have affected the live viewership of this fantastic show.

Unfortunately, I have to wait until AMC releases the final season to Netflix before I can see how the series ends.

In the meantime, I say we, as fans, push this show to be picked up by someone else so they can continue with what has quickly become a cult classic series.