By Shirley N Lew
AsAmNews New York Correspondent
Isn’t it about time we had an Asian male play the leading man in a drama and being bad ass, I might add?
During New York’s Comic Con this weekend, AMC presented Into The Badlands, a new martial arts drama starring Daniel Wu (Tai Chi Zero) as Sunny, a badass warrior in a post apocalyptic US.
An audience member asked Wu, “What do you think about being one of the few Asian male leads?”
“It’s interesting that I didn’t think about it until we were done with the show and people started writing about this. I had a career of 18 years in Hong Kong where I didn’t have to think about race at all and to come back here to think when has it been since we’ve seen an Asian male lead in a show is almost never. As a kid I looked up to Jet Li and Bruce Lee because I couldn’t find people like me on the big screen. And now, 40 years later, to be able to be that person to some kid growing up to looking up to me is awesome. I didn’t think about it then, but I think it’s pretty cool, ” Wu responded.
He also credits AMC for being adamant that an Asian play the lead role
“If it weren’t for AMC, then you wouldn’t have this movement happening. I think it takes progressive people like AMC to make that decision and say, ‘this is what needs to be done’ because that is reflective of what this country is about, ” he said.
Wu plays the loyal Head Clipper to the most powerful Baron, Quinn played by Martin Csokas. Sunny defends Quinn’s land and enforce’s his rules as that is what Clippers do. Their home is set in Badlands, a place that is four or five centuries from now, where guns are outlawed and only swords or knives are the choice of weaponry. Badlands is divided among seven rival Barons that each own a valuable resource.
AMC describes the motorcycle riding Sunny as a character that is on a “journey of enlightenment”. He befriends a young boy he saves, M.K., played by Aramis Knight and they both go on this road of self discovery together.
To capture the detailed martial arts movements which is a blend of kung-fu, haidong gumbo, jiu jitsu and more, the well choreographed fights are recorded simultaneously with three cameras to prevent too much editing. This enabled them to show the full art of the fight.
“In this future (setting), there really shouldn’t be a specific style of fighting, ” Wu said. He goes on to quote Bruce Lee, “Everyone has two arms and two legs, there shouldn’t be one style.”
“We want to bring the big screen action of Hong Kong to the American small screen. There hasn’t been a show with martial arts because it is extremely hard to make. It’s very challenging. You’re gonna see some amazing stuff on the small screen that you’ve never seen before,” Wu told the audience.
Executive Producer and Fight Director Stephen Fung put the cast through a martial arts camp in New Orleans to prepare them for the series. They trained 12 hours a day and six days week. Fung is also a Hong Kong film star and director (Tai Chi Zero, House of Fury).
Wu, also an executive producer of the show, began kung fu lessons at the age of 11.
“It was a slow and steady process” Wu said of the training. He jokingly said he is no longer a younger man and after not performing martial arts on the screen for some time to take on different movie roles in Hong Kong, he is careful to ease back into it to avoid injury.
“We had this Hong Kong fight unit that Stephen directed. This unit was running full-time. This is the system that Jackie Chan and Jet Li use. We wanted to marry the Hong Kong martial arts into an American drama,” said show creator Miles Miller. He also pointed out there were more women in the show than there are men.
The big attraction of the series will be the martial arts and the “clang” of the swords coming together during a fight. It reminds me of the Chinese movies I saw as a kid where the men fought in flowing garb, jumping from one roof to another with sword in hand, but it has a futuristic edgy look of the US being in transition from what was then to what will be. The many times Sunny killed a man is marked with an elaborate symbol tattooed on his back in the trailer. That’s edgy.
Into the Badlands premieres Sunday, November 15.
After watching the trailer, what are your thoughts about the show?
Why do you think it’s is important or not to finally have an Asian male play a lead role?
Share you thoughts with us.