First Impressions

Into the Badlands

Aired on: AMC

Reviewed by Melissa Minners

           I had seen a ton of promos for the new AMC action series called Into the Badlands, but it still wasn't enough.  I wanted to see more and couldn't wait for the show to begin Sunday, November 15, 2015.  It promised to be a lot of fun, but would the promos represent all of the action I would be treated to and what is a fun action feature without a good storyline?  I'd never know until I watched the premiere episode.

Into the Badlands stars Daniel Wu as Sunny.  Years ago, wars plagued the Earth and fear and darkness reigned until seven men and seven women came together to end the chaos.  Known as barons, they trained lethal armies of fighters known as Clippers and people everywhere flocked to the barons for protection.  Sunny was found by Baron Quinn (Marton Csokas) as a young orphan boy out in the middle of nowhere.  He was raised on the Baron's poppy plantation and trained in the arts of war.  Sunny is Quinn's most loyal Clipper, killing more men in the name of the Baron than any other in his barracks.  But Sunny wants more.

Discovering that the woman he loves is with child, Sunny finds he is torn between loyalty and a need for family.  Clippers are not allowed to have such luxuries and the penalty for any attempt at this is death.  Sunny finds himself yearning to know about his past and the lands beyond The Badlands.  Especially when he comes across the lone survivor of a nomad raid - a young boy (Aramis Knight) with unbelievable powers who comes from a land only heard of in legend.

Sunny may yet get his chance, thanks to a plot to destroy Quinn laid by The Widow, the wife of a now dead baron who seeks more power.  But will Sunny have the strength to leave everything he has ever known...everything he has helped build...for the unknown?

I was prepared for Into the Badlands to be pure martial arts and special effects much in line with the marital arts films I watched as a kid.  Quite honestly, I was a bit surprised.  Not only was Into the Badlands what I expected, but it was so much more.  There was actually a valid storyline, character struggle and brilliant cinematography.  Sure, there was blood, which was to be expected what with the main character carrying two katana blades, but there was less of it than I thought there would be.  Sunny doesn't always fight with his blades and his martial arts are quite impressive...and kinda gross, especially when breaking bones. 

The storyline is wholly believable.  If you had grown tired of killing and wanted something more, believing there was a life available beyond the one you were living, would you take the chance to find it?  Or would you remain with what you were used to, preferring the more familiar for the unknown?  I also like that there appears to be an undercurrent of intrigue here.  Could it be that there is more to the plot to overthrow Baron Quinn than at first sight?  The coming attractions appear to hint as much.  What is this mysterious power that allows M.K. to fight as a martial arts master?  And what is this mysterious homeland depicted on both M.K.'s pendant and Sunny's compass?  Could it mean both M.K. and Sunny's salvation...or their doom?

I was totally engrossed in the premiere episode of Into the Badlands and was actually sad when the first episode ended.  I wanted more and, though I'm not sure what kind of shelf life this series might have, I can't wait to see where the series will lead us every Sunday at 10pm EST!


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