From AMC and showrunners Al Gough and Miles Millar come the epic martial arts series Into The Badlands starring Daniel Wu, Emily Beechum, Nick Frost, Sarah Bolger, Oliver Stark, Aramis Knight, Marton Csokas, Stephen Lang, Ally Loannides, Madeleine Mantock and Orla Brady. Season three has been greenlit and extended to feature 16 episodes.
The ruthless, prodigiously skilled warrior Sunny, mentors a teenage boy M.K. during a spiritual journey across a feudal civilization known as the Badlands. With the help of trained assassins like Sunny, the area is ruled by rival barons, and for decades Quinn has consistently outflanked and outmaneuvered his fellow barons to keep the upper hand. His invincibility, however, begins to fade in light of brazen attacks by the newest baron, The Widow, who believes M.K. is the key to her success. As the battle for control of the Badlands heats up, the destinies of the stoic assassin and the impetuous teenager become intertwined.
Al Gough and Miles Millar’s post-apocalyptic martial arts action epic has returned for a blood-soaked second season which was loaded with flying limbs, shocking character deaths and incredible fight choreography unrivalled on the smallscreen. After getting imprisoned, Sunny winds up taking on an unlikely friend in Nick Frost’s Bajie, as the two end up on a journey back to the Badlands so Sunny can find his wife (and child?? she was pregnant before he wound up in a slavecamp). On the other side of the world, The Widow is wreaking havoc, taking on all other Barons in a gore-soaked murder mission and Quinn — well spoiler alert – Quinn sure as shit isn’t dead. In fact he’s crazier than ever.
Marton Csokas’ performance as Quinn, the fallen Baron who has started a new tribe of warriors underground in order to go after his son Ryder (who took over the role of Baron after betraying his dad), is one of the best villains on television this year. Maybe ever. I actually don’t know how Csokas does it – but he is literally conveying this vibe of endless rape eyes and he emits a fog of “I will murder anyone at any time” all by using his eyes. He doesn’t even need to speak, but when he does that even – he’s even CREEPIER. My god this man – what an astounding, scene-stealing, season thieving performance – give Marton Csokas a round of applause for going all in for this role. He’s the villain we all love to hate and by the end of season 2, you will be stunned at what he is capable of.
Into The Badlands season 2 is better than the first season in every way. The performances, the characters, the world, the mythos, and my lord – the action. There is a stunning set piece in every episode and you will eat every single one of them up. Daniel Wu and Emily Beechum kick so much ass and kill so many people that you will lose count and you will love every second of the carnage. The finale in particular was very special as Wu unleashed a limb severing rendition very similar to that of The Bride from Kill Vill Volume 1… It was jaw-droppingly brilliant. Hell – without giving away too much – the final battle of the season between Sunny and Quinn was the kind of clash we rarely see these days, as hero and villain collided in a war that more than lived up to the expectations leading into it. I’ve never seen a more vicious and emotional duel on my TV…
We had a few more episodes this go-around so we had time to delve into more of that “gift” storyline centering around MK and his ability to turn into a martial arts demon with black eyes every time he bleeds. We will see the temple where even more of those blessed with this ability – train and serve their monk masters – one of which you’ll recall being played by Cung Le at the end of season 1. This plotline confused me when it first came into the equation, but they expanded upon it here and really turned it into a highlight this season with more characters being revealed that they too – are overly familiar with this power…
The addition of Nick Frost as the bearded Bajie was a nice touch. His comedic relief really added to the series and gave us some laughs between the serious wastelands politics and over-the-top brawls. It’s when Frost himself got into the mayhem where I couldn’t quite get a grip on the action anymore. Seeing Bajie doing flips and killing a bunch of dudes with nunhucks was a little too far fetched, even for me, and I’m willing to grasp gravity defying, wall-climbing Matrix kung-fu shit.
Into The Badlands can be silly, but that’s also part of the charm. You really have to suspend reality to appreciate a few of the sequences but once you do, you’ll fall in love with the insane stunts and head-dicing skills of this team who will stop at nothing to entertain the fans. My jaw was on the floor by the end of the finale because I couldn’t believe they really “went there” and I’m constantly amazed at how they manage to top previous fight scenes with more imaginative skirmishes every single week. I don’t know if having 16 episodes for season 3 is the best plan (AMC shows should stick to 13 tops….) but I do know that Into The Badlands is a bloody gem and if you dig major ass-kickings, look no further than here people…
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