One of the most beautifully choreographed shows I’ve ever seen has recently been added to Netflix’s list of ever-expanding original and licensed content. Wrapped in a steampunk-like aesthetic lies the story of a man attempting to leave his dark ways behind to embrace a new and uncharted road that leads to freedom. And yes, he is doing it all for love. In today’s edition of The Scarlet Fan Presents, I invite you to check out the opera of blades, stylistic brawls and survival that is AMC’s Into the Badlands. Created by Alfred Gough and Miles Millar from Smallville fame.
Starring Daniel Wu, Martin Csokas, Nick Frost, Emily Beecham, Aramis Knight and many more; Into the Badlands is the martial-arts opera that I didn’t know I needed. Every episode is filled with fight choreography that draws inspiration from classics such as Hero and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; meanwhile incorporating the modern and fast-paced action mechanics that most people enjoy nowadays from likes of Ip Man, The Raid: Redemption and Flashpoint. What impressed me wasn’t just the amount of awesome fight scenes, but the quality and creativity of them. The wirework is obvious, yet seamless enough to not take you out of the action. The camera never gets in the way of the action and because the editing is on point, creating a continuous sense motion and flow that is flawlessly maintained in every fight sequence.
For instance, an area where this sense of flow particularly shines is in the show’s swordplay. One particular piece of lore that we are given from the start is that guns have been outlawed from the Badlands. As a result, swords, daggers, shuriken and bows are the weapons of choice for warriors and assassins. Therefore, every duel and clash of blades is intense, bloody and a work of art to behold. This leads to bouts that feel like an intense dance between opposing forces exchanging leads as the music elevates it to its climax. This show has checked that box more times that I can count.
The Lore, Character and Themes
Though the action was what drew me in; the show’s characters, lore and stories are what kept coming back. Into the Badlands takes place in the ruins of what was once North America. This is apparent in the locations and landscapes that are explored throughout the show, though what was once the United States of America has been lost the ravages of time. All that remains is the new world that has risen from the ruins of a forgotten one. Part of me wants to call show’s aesthetic steampunk; but this is true in looks alone, since the show doesn’t dive into sci-fi tech elements that distinguish the genre.
For those that like mysteries; there’s the mystery of Azra and the dark ones. To those that like post-apocalyptic civilizations and political thrillers; this world functions within a feudal structure that frames struggles of class in a society ruled by power-hungry Barons. Love great villains? Look no further than Martin Csokas’ Quinn. If love is your thing, Sunny and Veil’s tale will keep you invested. All these different themes inform every strike of the blade, every political speech, every plea for help and every stride towards freedom. Hence my description of the show as an opera of blades.
Venture Into The Badlands
Some, want to rule the Badlands. Others, like Sunny, want to escape the Badlands. Everyone else, just wants to survive. In short, I strongly suggest you gear up and explore AMC’s Into the Badlands. With a total of 32 episodes spanning a sum of three seasons that vary in length; it is the perfect short show for those that want to venture into a new world filled with real stakes, action and decent drama.
- The Scarlet Fan Presents: AMC’s Into The Badlands – “An Opera of Blades” - February 24, 2021