Into The Badlands is a post-apocalyptic martial arts action show. Set many years after some kind of worldwide social collapse in the former United States, the world created here is a lawless and violent place. The central story is set in a fictional closed off region known as The Badlands.
The Badlands have been ruled for hundreds of years by seven feudal Barons. Self-appointed rulers of the Badlands. Each Baron controls resources essential to the survival of one another such as oil, food, and others. The poppy fields of Baron Quinn are where the majority of the story takes place. Like all Barons, Quinn has total control over his slave labor. The manual workers are referred to as Cogs, the sex workers as Dolls and the enforcers of each Baron are known as the Clippers.
The opening introduction sets the tone for show better than I could
“The wars were so long ago nobody even remembers. Darkness and fear ruled until the time of the barons, seven men and women who forged order out of chaos. People flocked to them for protection. That protection became servitude. They banished guns and trained armies of lethal fighters they called Clippers. This world is built on blood. Nobody is innocent here. Welcome to the Badlands.”
Into The Badlands follows Sunny (Played by Daniel Wu), the head clipper for Baron Quinn and these senior Clippers for each Baron are known as the Regents. Sunny’s job is to kill on the orders of his Baron. His whole life he has known nothing other than servitude to his Baron, initially as a Cog and then after passing vigorous training regimes as a Clipper. All the boys want to be Clippers over Cogs, as this affords them some privilege and access to the Dolls. However, there is one important rule for all Clippers: You cannot take a wife and cannot have children, at least not ones they acknowledge. This becomes an issue for Sunny who has fallen in love with the local doctor Veil, who is pregnant. Further complicating matters is the fact that Baron Quinn has killed her Mother and Father (also a doctor) because both were aware of his life-threatening and inoperable brain tumor.
On a routine mission to kill some Nomads (people not under the servitude of a Baron), Sunny meets a boy called MK with strange abilities, when MK is cut or attacked he seems to develop super strength and agility beyond what even Sunny is capable of. Everyone wants to use MK’s power including rival female Baron “The Widow.” The Widow is hell-bent on shifting the balance in the Badlands to her favor and she is no slouch in the fighting department either. The Widow doesn’t have slaves, but loyal workers to take the place of Cogs and her Clippers are a team of highly trained female martial artists.
As the story unravels Sunny must navigate his own plans to be free with his family whilst also serving Baron Quinn and attempting to hide and train young MK. Something has to give and, in the Badlands, this usually means people have to die and Sunny is the best Clipper in the Badlands.
Into The Badlands Season 1 consists of 6 episodes, whilst Season 2 was increased to 10 episodes. Season 3 is due to launch on AMC within the next month and you can see a season 3 Trailer below (Spoilers beware)
Where you should start watching?
Into The Badlands season 1 and 2 are available for cable subscribers on AMC website. Season 1 is currently streaming on Netflix in the US/Canada with Season 2 expected to be added within the next Month. Outside of North America, Amazon has the rights to stream the show in the UK on the same live Schedule as AMC. For all other regions please check for availability.
Season 3 is due to release within the next month on AMC and Amazon respectively.
Why you should watch?
For me, the main reason to watch this how is the brilliant fight choreography for all the martial arts sequences. And it’s an action show, so the fights are thick and fast throughout both seasons. It’s certainly not everyone’s favorite show with a Rotten Tomatoes Audience score of only 53%. However, in general, the people I have spoken to who didn’t abandon the show after Season 1 have fallen in love with it a little. I think Season 2 really pushes the story forward at a faster rate of knots than Season 1 did. However, it is probably fair to say that your enjoyment of the show will depend on your love of martial arts over your love of drama. The fight choreography is also fantasy stylised and uses a lot of wire work to have people perform feats that would not normally be possible. Fans of very realistic fight choreography, therefore, may not love the action as much as those that don’t mind a bit of suspension of disbelief and this is further compounded by a mystical subplot involving MK and his ‘special abilities’. For me, I look at this show and wonder why the Iron Fist producers didn’t hire these guys to do their fight choreography. I find it an insanely fun show to watch and each fight scene is imaginative and complicated. The show also has real potential to exceed its own vision as it moves into further seasons.
If serious drama is more what you are after, I have other suggestions for you. But if you want to have some fun and see some kick-ass martial arts fights, look no further. Sit back and take some time to give this show a try. You may find like me you end up loving it just the way it is. And if you have already formed an opinion on Into the Badlands, let me know in the comments below.