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Thread: Into The Badlands

  1. #16
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    Cast reveal



    Credit: AMC
    Exclusive: Meet the cast of AMC's 'Into the Badlands'

    IN A WORLD WITH NO GUNS, FIGHTING IS AN ART.
    By Donna ****ens @MildlyAmused | WEDNESDAY, SEP 30, 2015 10:12 AM

    Zombies, Albuquerque attorneys, and 1960s office politics might be AMC’s forte, this this fall they hope to add genre-bending martial arts to their impressive resume. “Into the Badlands” mixes modern day technology with ancient fighting styles to create a strange alternate reality where guns don’t exist and feudal lords fight over land and opium.

    Based on the classic Chinese story “Journey to the West,” AMC tells the tale of a great warrior and a young boy on a journey to enlightenment in a deadly land.

    HitFix Harpy received an exclusive first look at the denizens who make up the Badlands. From feudal lords and devious wives to doctors and cogs, dig into the family at the center of "Into the Badlands" drama.

    “Into the Badlands” premieres on AMC on November 15 at 10pm ET/PT, 9C.

    Sunny - Played by Daniel Wu


    Photo Credit: James Minchin III/AMC

    Sunny is Regent (Head Clipper) to the Badlands’ most powerful Baron, Quinn. He is the ideal right-hand man: a prodigiously skilled, merciless killer with a keen strategic mind, unflappable temperament and deep sense of loyalty. Found as a naked, starving child, Sunny remembers nothing about his origins or birth parents. He spent his youth as one of Quinn’s Colts (teenage Clippers in training), and was only nine years old when he took his first life. He has slain hundreds since, growing inured to the act of killing, even as he records each death with a black line tattooed (kill tat) on his back. Naturally solitary, he has never sought friends. But a blossoming romance with a doctor named Veil has opened Sunny up to different ideas, and together they dream of a future far away from the Badlands. Sunny unwittingly takes the first steps toward that future when he meets M.K., a teenage boy who harbors lethal powers. In taking M.K. as his Colt, Sunny will unravel the mystery of his own past – and awaken to his true purpose as a human being.

    Quinn - Played by Marton Csokas


    Photo Credit: James Minchin III/AMC

    Ruthless, enigmatic, shrewd and charming, Quinn is the Badlands’ preeminent Baron. A former Clipper, Quinn secured his position the old-fashioned way: he killed for it, murdering the very Baron who trained him. Given his own trajectory, it’s not surprising that Quinn spares no expense to ensure the satisfaction of his Clippers, who constitute the largest, best-trained and best-outfitted army in the Badlands. For three decades, Quinn has consistently outflanked and outmaneuvered his fellow Barons to keep the upper hand. But the political winds are shifting and Quinn is no longer a young man; his aura of invincibility is fading. However, Quinn will not go down without a fight and his desperation to maintain control makes him even more dangerous.

    Lydia - Played by Orla Brady


    Photo Credit: James Minchin III/AMC

    Lydia is Quinn’s first wife and is both his fiercest critic and most devoted follower. Without her astute counsel, he wouldn’t have ascended so far. While Lydia never doubted Quinn possessed the makings of a Baron, she is less sure about their son, Ryder. As much as she loves her only child and wants to see him succeed Quinn, she is well aware of his flaws. Ryder’s fortunes will undoubtedly have implications for Lydia, particularly given Quinn’s upcoming marriage to a beautiful young Cog, Jade. Lydia puts on an excellent show of indifference, while making it abundantly clear that she is still The Fort’s true Baroness and always will be.

    M.K. - Played by Aramis Knight


    Photo Credit: James Minchin III/AMC

    Saved from mercenary Nomads by Sunny, M.K. is taken to Quinn’s walled compound, The Fort. A seemingly average teenage boy, M.K. is anything but. Lurking inside him is a dark energy that is only unleashed when his skin is cut. No longer himself, he becomes an unstoppable force with heightened and brutally lethal martial arts skills. Haunted by his murderous capacity, M.K. tries to keep his unwanted powers a secret. But Sunny senses something different about the teen, and it isn’t long before M.K. is forced to tell the Clipper the truth. At the same time, the duo forms a bond when the boy saves Sunny’s life. Sunny recognizes, however dimly, the faraway place M.K. calls home. And M.K. knows that if Sunny can train him to harness the darkness within, there is hope they can both find their way home.

    continued next post
    Gene Ching
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  2. #17
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    Continued from previous post

    The Widow - Played by Emily Beecham


    Photo Credit: James Minchin III/AMC

    The Widow is the Badlands’ newest Baron. It is rumored, correctly, that she murdered her husband but few know the story behind her act. A brilliant martial artist, she has adopted a blue-winged butterfly as her Baronial symbol, representing a transformation from insignificance to beauty and power. Since succeeding her husband, The Widow has amassed a crew of young female warriors: her Butterflies. The Widow treats the Butterflies with maternal affection, has taught them how to fight and instilled in them self-confidence. With grand ambitions, The Widow has launched a brazen campaign against the formidable Quinn. She believes M.K. is the key to her success and will go to any length to find him.

    Ryder - Played by Oliver Stark


    Photo Credit: James Minchin III/AMC

    Ryder is Quinn’s only son and presumed heir. Impulsive and arrogant, Ryder might have become a different person had he not been kidnapped as a child. Quinn’s refusal to the pay the ransom resulted in Ryder’s torture and mutilation. The incident left Ryder scarred in body and soul, furious at his larger-than-life father but also desperate for his affection and approval. Quinn has always measured Ryder’s skills against Sunny’s, and Ryder knows he has fallen short. When Quinn’s assets come under attack, Ryder lobbies his father to change tactics and adopt a more aggressive approach, but is rebutted. As his father seems to weaken, Ryder grows ever more impatient.

    Veil - Played by Madeleine Mantock


    Photo Credit: James Minchin III/AMC

    Veil is a doctor who specializes in making and fitting “mimics”, prosthetic limbs. She is unlike anyone Sunny has ever known: principled and honest, loving and supportive. Orphaned as a baby, Veil was given by Quinn to his personal doctor. The child was a token of gratitude to the doctor who helped saved Lydia’s life when she delivered Ryder. Veil does her best to keep a low profile, but when Quinn becomes ill, he begs for her help. Realizing that it is impossible to refuse his request, Veil reluctantly agrees. It is a decision she instantly comes to regret.

    Tilda - Played by Alexia Ioannides


    Photo Credit: James Minchin III/AMC

    Jade - Played by Sarah Bolger

    Photo Credit: James Minchin III/AMC

    Jade grew up as a Cog in Quinn’s house. Now in her early 20s, she is a beautiful young woman whose beguiling demeanor hides a core of ambition and tenacity. She is about to become Quinn’s wife, and aims to eclipse Lydia in her husband’s affections. Her experience growing up as a Cog gives Jade a different perspective and informs her opinions about how Quinn should run his opium empire. She agrees with Ryder that change is necessary, and she soon discovers the courage to say so. However, she does not disclose that what she shares with Ryder goes beyond political opinions.


    Photo Credit: James Minchin III/AMC
    Looks very promising. I'm quite hopeful.
    Gene Ching
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  3. #18
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    Nice article on Daniel



    Incognito
    In China, Daniel Wu is a huge celebrity. In his hometown, he’s just like everyone else.
    By Vanessa Hua

    Photographs by Jon Snyder

    The actor Daniel Wu is posing gamely inside the Art Deco movie house where he watched films as a teenager. He used to ride his skateboard to the *theater, which is just as he remembered it — though smaller, he says. As he stretches in the doorway for a photographer, a pair of customers approach, and he politely steps aside to let them buy tickets. Not once during our afternoon in his hometown of Orinda, a posh suburb east of San Francisco, does anyone recognize him.

    In Hong Kong, Wu has starred in more than 60 films as well as adver*tisements for Seiko, L’Oréal, Canon, Cadillac, Erme*ne*gildo Zegna, and Adi*das. He can’t ride the subway because of the crush of fans who swarm to snap photos of him, his toddler daughter, and his wife, model Lisa S., an Amer*ican expat of French-Chinese-Jewish extraction. “It’s funny; I live a dual life,” says the 41-year-old Wu. In Hong Kong and China, he feels “like a caged bird. Having had that success over there and coming back here every year to visit my family and being able to walk down the street and basically be who I was before — it’s a very freeing feeling.”

    In November, Wu may be giving up this oasis of anonymity with the premiere of the AMC martial arts series Into the Badlands, in which he has landed the rarest of roles: an Asian male lead. Armed with a saber and roundhouse kicks, Wu plays an assassin in a feudal, post-apocalyptic future. The show, which was shot in New Orleans against a backdrop of Southern plantations and steampunk saloons, will air in more than 125 countries as a part of the cable and satellite television network’s push abroad.



    Today at the bar at Casa Orinda, a dimly lit, 83-year-old cowboy roadhouse with vintage pistols mounted on the walls, Wu tells the owner, John Goyak, “I used to come here a lot when I was a kid.”

    Goyak, who took over the business from his father, laughs. “I used to come here a lot when I was a kid.”

    I’m meeting Wu in Orinda, population 19,003, because it is also my hometown — though we didn’t know each other. We went to rival schools a grade apart in a place that hits the headlines every few years for its competition and classism: the murder of a high school cheerleader by a less popular classmate (Rolling Stone and a made-for-TV movie starring Tori Spelling), a battle over leaf blowers (The New Yorker), and a fee squabble at a tony swim club (The Wall Street Journal).

    Growing up in Orinda, Wu always felt different. At the time, Asians accounted for 3 percent of the population; his father, an engineer, and his mother, a business professor, said he should never forget that he is Chinese. He took an interest in martial arts after seeing Jet Li in The Shaolin Temple and started training at the age of 11 with an herbalist–painter–lawyer–acupuncturist–martial arts teacher. Jackie Chan, who today is a mentor, was a childhood hero.

    In 1997, after graduating from the University of Oregon, Wu traveled to Hong Kong to witness its transfer from British to Chinese sovereignty. One night, he was having a drink in the Lan Kwai Fong bar district when he was invited to appear in a bank commercial, a $4,000 windfall that paid for a backpacking trip through Asia. Indie filmmaker Yonfan spotted Wu in the ad and, thinking that his upbringing in the West would make him willing to take on a controversial role, cast him as a lead in Bishonen, a love story between a gay hustler and a cop.

    Wu has cross-cultural appeal in China: He’s Chinese and yet not, American and yet not.

    Although Wu understood Can*tonese from watching kung fu movies, he spoke little of it. He recorded all of his lines and played them over and over, even while he slept, in the hope that he might absorb the dialect through “osmosis.” He began appearing in upward of six movies a year — “a blur,” he says, and an impressively rapid pace compared to stars of his sta*ture in the U.S., who may make one or two movies a year. Wu has a cross-cultural appeal in China: He’s Chinese and yet not, American and yet not. “I don’t fit in anywhere, nor do I feel uncomfortable anywhere,” he tells me. “I’ve been through the experience of living here, and people assuming I was a foreigner” — as happened when he attempted to vote in his first presidential election. Then he moved to Hong Kong, only to have locals tell him, “You’re not our people. You’re white!”

    Martial arts movies eventually took a toll on Wu, who tore his ACL and broke his ankle. He left those roles for swords-and-slippers historical epics and police procedurals. He also tried directing, and he won best new director at the 2006 Hong Kong Film Awards for his first movie, a mockumentary about a boy band. For Badlands, the producer Stacey Sher initially tapped Wu as an executive producer for his martial arts expertise, and Wu suggested casting a young actor who could handle the rigors of fighting sequences. Producers, however, wanted an actor skilled in martial arts but also fluent in English. Wu was hired, and in the six months before filming began, he added 18 pounds of muscle to his lean build.

    Wu’s first roles in English felt jarring, he says, because he had to figure out acting, pacing, and tone in his native tongue. “The first day on set, speaking English, I thought, Whoa, this is weird,” Wu says. “Then all of a sudden I realized I had so much freedom in dialogue” — he was able to improvise.

    For decades, actors and singers of Chinese descent raised in the U.S. and Canada have sought out roles overseas that are still lacking in Hollywood. Of last year’s 100 top-grossing films released in the United States, only about 5 percent of speaking characters were Asian, and more than 40 of the movies had none at all. But a generation of viewers who came of age watching martial arts moves in the Matrix trilogy, Mission Impossible, and other action flicks may now be primed for change, and television shows such as Badlands and Netflix’s forthcoming Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon are aimed at them. Martial arts entertainment, Wu adds, sells well globally, in part because viewers don’t have to understand the story to enjoy the action.

    More than 40 years ago, Bruce Lee pitched a show in which he would star as a martial arts warrior wandering the American Old West. David Carradine got the part, going yellowface in the iconic television hit Kung Fu. “Bruce Lee’s idea got stolen from him because the studios weren’t confident putting an Asian guy in the role,” Wu tells me. AMC is taking a gamble by casting Wu as the lead — not the comic relief and not the foreigner with the cute accent who never gets the girl. It’s a gamble, Wu says, that “rights that wrong.”
    More to come for sure...
    Gene Ching
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  4. #19
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    second season

    Buzzing: Daniel Wu's miniseries signed for two seasons
    Oct 6, 2015, 5:00 am SGT

    Daniel Wu's miniseries signed for two seasons

    American cable network AMC has ordered a second season of actor Daniel Wu's post- apocalyptic martial arts miniseries, Into The Badlands, even before the first season debuts on Nov 15, says Apple Daily. The six-episode show is produced by Wu, who stars in it, and director Stephen Fung, who may appear in the second season which is expected to be shot in the middle of next year.
    Not sure if this is true as I have yet to see anything in the regular trade journals.
    Gene Ching
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  5. #20
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    More buzz

    From Cannes!

    MIPCOM: AMC's 'Into the Badlands' Wants to Revive Martial Arts Genre, Says Daniel Wu


    AMC

    by Etan Vlessing 10/7/2015 5:23am PDT

    "The big success of 'The Walking Dead' are the characters, what they need to do to survive," he says in Cannes. "That's what we're going for."

    Daniel Wu wants to revive the martial-arts genre absent from TV screens for decades with AMC's upcoming fantasy drama Into the Badlands just as the U.S. network transformed flesh-eating zombies into American pop culture icons with The Walking Dead.

    "The big success of The Walking Dead are the characters, what they need to do to survive. That's what we're going for," Wu told The Hollywood Reporter, as he recalled the 1970s TV classic Kung Fu, starring David Carradine.

    Wu knows why the martial-arts genre has long been missing from TV screens. "Martial-arts scenes are difficult to shoot in a short time," he said, pointing to a fight scene in a whirlpool of rain in Wong Kar-Wai's The Grandmaster that took 30 days to complete.

    Into the Badlands, from the creators of Smallville, will see Wu play Sunny, a ruthless, well-trained warrior on a spiritual journey in a dangerous land controlled by feudal barons.

    The Hong Kong import is no slouch at fighting. Wu had extensive martial arts training since he was 11 years-old, but hadn't done many aerial kicks before the AMC show started shooting in New Orleans.

    "I can't jump as high as I could in my 20s, but we have wires to give me more airtime," he said. Wu added he and his fellow cast did a six-week martial-arts boot camp to become as much skilled dancers as smooth-moving kung fu fighters for show-stopping fight scenes.

    "It's not a typical fisticuffs. It's dynamic, jaw-dropping fight scenes, visually, and beautiful overall," he said of choreographing kickass acrobatics for Into the Badlands. The fight scenes are shot with three cameras running simultaneously.

    One gets a wide shot, another a medium shot and a Steadicam captures extremely tight and risky shots of fight sequences. "The camera is the third participant in the fight. [It's] fighting with us," Wu said.

    The third camera has GPS coordinates, so it always stays level when it quickly moves in and out to capture the fighters battling hand-to-hand. Wu said fight scenes in Into the Badlands also call for extended takes, unlike Hollywood action movies with quick-cutting action scenes to ensure audiences never see mistakes by untrained fighters.

    "The spectacle is in seeing a fight scene in a long take. We may have 30 or 40 moves in one go. That highlights the skill of the performers," he said. The series was created by writers-showrunners Al Gough and Miles Millar, who will executive produce alongside Stacey Sher and Michael Shamberg (Pulp Fiction) and martial-arts filmmakers Daniel Wu (Tai Chi Zero) and Stephen Fung.

    Wu toplines a cast that includes Emily Beecham (28 Weeks Later, The Village), Sarah Bolger (The Tudors) and Oliver Stark. The first season of Into the Badlands will debut on AMC on Nov. 15.
    I received the press kit for this recently and it is one of the nicest I have ever seen.
    Gene Ching
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  6. #21
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    The media blitz is on!

    'Into The Badlands' Star Daniel Wu Talks About Bringing The Spirituality Of Martial Arts To AMC Series At NYCC
    By Alex Garofalo @Ja9GarofaloTV a.garofalo@ibtimes.com on October 11 2015 5:48 PM EDT


    Daniel Wu, pictured as Sunny in "Into the Badlands" Season 1, teased his new role at New York Comic Con Saturday. AMC

    For "Into the Badlands" star and executive producer Daniel Wu and fight director Stephen Fung, getting AMC to greenlight the upcoming martial arts series was easy. The pair told reporters at New York Comic Con Saturday the network called them just hours after their pitch to say they wanted the show. However, getting the martial arts series right was not so simple.

    “Into the Badlands” tells the story of deadly, veteran warrior Sunny (Daniel Wu) who rescues a young boy named M.K. (Aramis Knight), leading to a perilous journey through the dangerous Badlands -- a feudal land ruled over by power hungry barons and their armies of Clippers -- to find enlightenment.

    "It's very easy to do a watered down version of a martial arts show -- set up a camera rolling, do a few punches and get out," Fung told reporters at Comic Con.

    While the series took great pains to get the choereography and authenticity of the "Hong Kong" style martial arts right in the show, Wu told Internatonal Business Times it was also important to preserve the spirituality of the art form.

    "I think there is stuff we did want to avoid because I think 'Kung Fu' is very 'fortune cookie' in some ways -- 'take the pebble from my hand' and all," Wu said when asked if "Into the Badlands" drew inspiration from the 1970s series starring David Carradine. "We wanted to have that because I think it's important that in the martial arts we also show the spirituality of martial arts. I love UFC [Ultimate Fighting Championship] too, but you don't see the art of martial arts there. We wanted to make sure the sprituality side is there, but not in that cheesy 'Kung Fu' way. That's not to knock 'Kung Fu.' It had its moment. That show was like a stepping stone for us."

    Wu went on the discuss the spiritual heart of the show.

    "The martial arts spirituality is important because you need that balance. With the violence you also need the philosophy of martial arts to balance that out or else it just becomes all about the violence. Later as the story develops you see, with the secret [M.K.] has, more of a spiritual element of the show," Wu said. "We say the story is very loosely based on 'Journey to the West' which is how the Monkey King brought Buddhism from India to China. It's about all these challenges he meets on the way and how they transform him from a rebellious, naughty Monkey King into a Buddha himself. So, that's the real spritual backbone of the show -- you see this character Sunny looking for something greater than he has known."

    Fans will have to tune in to the "Into the Badlands" premiere to see how the show brings martial arts to the small screen. The six-episode first season of the AMC series begins airing on Nov. 15.
    continued next post
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  7. #22
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    continued from previous

    AMC’s ‘Into the Badlands’ EP/Fight Director on Making Martial Arts the New Zombie
    By Drew Grant | 10/11/15 9:22am


    Daniel Wu as Sunny on AMC’s Into the Badlands.

    Compared to the fan screening of The Walking Dead the night before–where the siren call of zombies and Norman Reedus filled Madison Square Gardens to capacity–the turnout for AMC’s other post-apocalyptic program, Into the Badlands, had a modest Comic Con turnout. Maybe it was only some 150+ people who filed into one of the seemingly endless Javits Center convention rooms to observer a panel for a show that doesn’t premiere until November 15th, and is loosely based on the Chinese story Journey to the West. But the two events shared one thing in common: they were both attended past capacity.

    Though its plot may seem more “early aughts foreign film sensation” than “the next hit show from the network that brought you Breaking Bad and Mad Men,” Into the Badlands boasts a much more adventure-driven premise: in it, a transient warrior, Sunny (Daniel Wu, also an executive producer on the project) wanders a future where there are no guns–Snowpiercer, much?– and the feudal caste system has made a comeback, in a hardcore, Crouching Tiger-kind of way. After finding a special boy M.K. (Aramis Knight) literally inside a box , Sunny begins an epic quest through a world where martial arts imposes the martial rule.

    Besides having the obvious appeal of nerd culture–swords! Hot, badass ladies fighting! Flying kicks!–AMC’s newest offering is notable for having such a strong international contingent both in front and behind the cameras. Stephen Fung is another executive producer of Into the Badlands, and more awesomely, is the show’s fight coordinator. Along with the perfectly nick-named Master DeeDee, Fung spent weeks training the actors in a “Martial Arts Boot Camp” before principal photography ever started filming.

    After the panel, we spoke to Fung about the process of turning Hollywood actors into believable warriors.

    Observer: What were some of the difficulties of translating this cinematic art form for the small screen?

    Stephen Fung: It’s the action’s journey, if I may put it. It’s not a movie, where it’s a one-sitting experience and then it’s over after a couple hours. This could be many seasons. So I had to think about: Well, I can’t throw everything in the first season, let alone the first episode. We can’t show the full range of martial arts right away. The pilot has to be good; it has to have meat in it, but we can’t throw every trick in there.

    So what we did was map out the characters and their journeys, and what kind of weapons they would choose, and we start from there. We start out with Sunny fighting bare hands, since we want the audience to see how good he is without the blades. We’ll save the blades for the next fight. So the tree fight: that’s a gritty style, a certain look; then the rain fight, which is more poetic. You just saw the fight with the Widow (during the panel), which is how a very strong woman fights, and it’s completely different than the other ones we’ve seen before. (Ed. note: you won’t be looking at stiletto heels the same way again.)

    Each character has its own strength and weaknesses. Quinn, who is the most powerful baron in the land, he fights with one broad sword, which is all about power. It’s not about fancy moves, it’s all about slashing through your enemies.

    Observer: So it’s all about the visceral experience of understanding the character through their fighting style?

    Fung: Exactly. Another thing we wanted to do was to keep it pretty grounded. Nothing too supernatural in the fights. No flying.

    Observer: There are videos online of you and Master Dee Dee (the martial arts coordinator) training the cast at a martial arts boot camp in preparation for the show. I have to think this must have been a STEEP learning curve for some of the actors. Can you talk about this process a little bit?

    Fung: The boot camp took place two months before principal photography. And I’ve always believed that boot camps aren’t just for the actors to be prepared physically, but mentally. To get as close to the fighter’s mentality as possible. So we had people training for 9 to 4. Usually the day started off with some warmups, exercises, and we’d end the day with practicing moves specifically designed for the fights in the series. After that, wire work. Then they’d get to go home and rest, while me and Master Dee Dee would stay and choreograph the fight, which I would shoot on my camera. I’d go home at night, and edit it really quickly.

    Then I’d bring it to the directors, and we’d talk about ways to make it better.

    Observer: Which actor would you say is the most improved after the camp?

    Fung: I think for sure Emily (Beechum, who plays The Widow) and Aramis (who plays M.K.) because he had so much work to do on the wires. You might be able to quick very high and well on the ground, but once you’re on the wire…the way you pivot, the way you use the power, it’s different. Because Aramis fights…differently, without giving too much away.

    There’s a lot of wire work in Hollywood, and it’s used brilliantly. The difference is in China we’d have men physically holding the wires and pulling the actors up, whereas here it’s mechanical. It’s pretty electronic. But for this, we needed the feel to be so specific, the lands to be so different, that it was very difficult to do with machines. So that’s one of the differences.

    Observer: What most surprised you about moving these fights from boot camp to location?

    Fung: The fights themselves were very similar. The widow scene is almost exactly the same, but that’s because, you look at it: it’s all taken place in one large room. There’s some elevation, but it’s just like the place where we practiced. Now take episode two, where it’s a 50-1 fight scene, but it’s in a factory, and there are different levels, and by the end Sunny is on different levels of beams. We couldn’t really choreograph it, because our (training complex) was just one flat layer. We just had to count on our experience.

    Some of it is surprisingly good. When we do the Hong Kong style, there is quite a bit of improvisation. That’s why we put a lot of pressure on the set decorators and art directors for the show: we couldn’t just make it up out of thin air, or look at a blueprint and imagine what the fight would look like.

    Observer: It seems like the show has a very visceral element to it.

    Fung: The thing about Hollywood is you guys have the best technology, the best equipment and all that. There’s a new convention call the MobyCam, which is a cross between a handheld cam and a steadicam. And the great thing about the Mobi-Cam is that you can have these cinematic big shots AND that Hong Kong film feel, like you are there in the room during the fight, which is all handheld. So for the opening fight, we had a clipper with a camera jumping down together with Sunny on wires. You see Sunny go down, and then the camera follows.

    Observer: Do you think the show’s Chinese influence gave Badlands such great roles (and fights) for women?

    Fung: Since the early days of Chinese cinema, there have been really strong female leads. From Mulan to Crouching Tiger, and I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that female fighting is very poetic. It’s sexy. It’s just how their bodies are designed. When you see The Widow fight, she has these very specific stances that look good.

    That’s the thing about teaching martial arts the Chinese way as opposed to Western cinema: the rhythm is different. Hong Kong is very “fight, fight, fight,” but then you break up and go into a stance. So at the end of the day it’s not about which martial arts style is being used, it’s about what looks cool. It’s the most important thing, because it’s the most unusual aspect of what this show is about.
    continued from previous
    Gene Ching
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  8. #23
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    continued from previous

    Into the Badlands Brings Martial Arts Back to American TV—And It's a Bloodbath
    Bryan Lufkin
    Filed to: nycc 201510/10/15 8:15pm



    Kicks. Punches. Swords. A whole lotta blood. A who’s who crew of martial artists and choreographers, and, at last, an Asian lead for a modern TV drama. It’s Into the Badlands, and hopefully it kickstarts a new chapter in genre television.

    Arguably, the last popular example of a martial arts TV show in the US was Kung Fu, which ended its run a whopping 40 years ago. AMC hopes to change that. The cable channel that brought us Mad Men, The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad held a cast and crew panel at New York Comic Con on Saturday for the upcoming Into the Badlands. They teased a scene from the pilot that showed The Village’s Emily Beecham as a blade-brandishing killer with acrobatic death moves. It was gory as ****. Like, Tarantino-grade.

    The fight sequence was lightning-fast and unapologetically bloody, climaxing in a Street Fighter-like combo move that used double swords to make mincemeat of one foe, streams of blood squirting everywhere like water out of a leak-dotted balloon. There was also an axe-to-the-forehead that ended with a satisfying squish. Not gonna lie... it’s not for everybody. It was as over-the-top as a gory hack-and-slash game. (I loved it, but others won’t.)


    Emily Beecham as The Widow. Photo: James Dimmock/AMC

    And yet? Beecham’s actual movements were mesmerizingly beautiful and elaborate. Her assault was packed full of complex content whose choreography might enchant viewers who otherwise find fighting movies unpalatable.

    Stephen Fung, the show’s fight director who is also a famous actor and filmmaker in Asia, said that was the goal. He wanted to bring Hong Kong-style martial arts action to Into the Badlands.

    “It’s not just perceived as fist-fighting—it’s more like a dance. We choreographed it like a dance. Each move is very specific,” Fung said. The martial arts used in the show borrow from an array of styles, kind of like Bruce Lee’s did.

    “We wanted to marry that authentic Hong Kong [martial arts] style with an American drama, and we couldn’t have done it without these two gentlemen here,” said co-creator Al Gough, referring to Fung, as well as star, executive producer, and veteran actor Daniel Wu. Both are well-known in Hong Kong and China.

    The cast of Into the Badlands, many of whom were new to martial arts, worked their asses off in a training camp that Fung led. He employed the same martial arts training system used by Jackie Chan and Jet Li for the boot camp, which also utilized the expertise of Huan-Chiu Ku, renowned martial arts choreographer who’s worked on Kill Bill and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

    You’ll notice that there are no guns in this universe. The setting for Into the Badlands takes Hong Kong-influenced martial arts and plops them in lush wetlands and plantation-filled fields in the distant future. (The show is filmed in New Orleans.) It’s set 500 years from now, and it definitely blends visual cues from both Asia and America in a novel way. Meanwhile, everything’s run by barons who outlawed firearms a century prior, in order to prevent an uprising.

    I’m a little nervous, since this show is yet another series set in a dystopian future. But while the fighting is borrowed from Chinese and Hong Kong martial arts cinema, the creators say the world’s social structure mimics feudal Japan, which is interesting: There are barons (like the shogunate) who control land and vital resources, and also manage fighting forces called clippers (samurai) amid a society of nomads (ronin). The creators said Kurosawa movies and medieval Japanese history were key influences.


    Daniel Wu as Sunny. Photo: James Minchin III/AMC

    As for Wu, he has an extensive martial arts background (shaolin kung fu, wushu, muay thai) and plays main character Sunny, the top baron’s top clipper, who’s killed 400 people. One day, he rescues a young boy called M.K. (Aramis Knight, Ender’s Game) who apparently holds secrets to Sunny’s past, which prompts a journey that the Widow (badass killer Emily Beecham) regularly disrupts.

    “It brings that big screen level of action that we’re used to in Hong Kong to the American small screen,” Wu said, and mentions there should be two big fight scenes per episode. He promised the fighting gets crazier as the season rolls on, and that each fight reveals something about the character.

    All the characters are presented as morally ambiguous. The Widow, for example, is an apparent mentor to an army of young female warriors-in-training she calls “her butterflies.” Is it ethical to teach kids how to be lethal death machines? Maybe, maybe not. I mean, this universe seems pretty messed up. Only the strong survive.

    “The only thing that really matters in this world is strength and weakness. Race, sex, none of it matters,” Gough says. “Martial arts is the great equalizer. It doesn’t matter if you’re male or female.”

    Into the Badlands Brings Martial Arts Back to American TV—And It's a Bloodbath

    Aramis Knight as M.K. Photo: James Minchin III/AMC

    I also want to include: ‘Bout ‘effing time, a drama on TV that has an Asian star. We’ve finally been seeing more Asians in starring roles on the comedy side of things, with Fresh off the Boat, which premiered earlier this year, and the new Dr. Ken, which stars Ken Jeong. And of course there’s Steven Yeun, who plays a key role in The Walking Dead’s action ensemble.

    When asked at the panel what he thought about being one of the few Asian leads (let alone Asian male leads) in American TV history, Wu said: “When have we seen an Asian-American lead in a show? Almost never. AMC was adamant that the lead is an Asian. For me, as an Asian-American kid growing up, I looked to people like 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, that’s awesome.”

    The show premieres on AMC November 15, and I’ll be recapping all of season one’s six gruesome, katana-slicing episodes right here on io9.

    Top image: Alexia Ioannides as Tilda. Photo: Patti Perret/AMC

    Email the author at bryan@gizmodo.com, or follow him on Twitter.
    I'm going to the sneak tomorrow.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  9. #24
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    One more interesting development....

    China switches submission to Go Away, Mr. Tumor

    By Kevin Ma

    Mon, 12 October 2015, 09:50 AM (HKT)
    Awards News

    The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has released the official submission list for this year's Best Foreign Film contenders.

    The biggest surprise in the list is China's submission, which was changed from Jean-Jacques ANNAUD's Wolf Totem 狼圖騰 to HAN Yan 韓延's box office hit Go Away Mr. Tumor 滾蛋吧!腫瘤君 (pictured).

    Local media reported earlier that the French co-production had been chosen to represent China in the award race. Last month, director JIA Zhangke 賈樟柯 held a public campaign to have his film Mountains May Depart 山河故人 be considered.

    Other Asian representatives for the award include The Last Reel (Cambodia), To the Fore 破風 (Hong Kong), Court (India), 100 Yen Love 百円の恋 (Japan), Men Who Save the World Lelaki harapan dunia (Malaysia), Heneral Luna (Philippines), 7 Letters (Singapore), How to Win at Checkers (Every Time) (Thailand) and Jackpot Trúng số! (Vietnam).

    The last time an Asian film was nominated as a finalist in the category was two years, with Rithy PANH ប៉ាន់ រិទ្ធី's The Missing Picture L'Image manquante (2013). The last Asian film to win in the category was Japan's Departures おくりびと (2008).
    GAMT stars Daniel Wu. Taiwan has submitted Assassin.
    Gene Ching
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  10. #25
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    Seen!

    Last night, I was at the Hollywood premiere of Inside the Badlands Ep.1. The show has a lot of potential. AMC is earnestly looking to serve the martial arts genre fans like it did for the horror genre fans with The Walking Dead. The fight scenes are solid - Ep.1. has two major fights, the second one is an homage to the rain fight in The Grandmaster mashed up with the Crazy 88 fight in Kill Bill. It's success will key off three factors: #1 if U.S. audiences can tell the difference between a decent fight scene and a mediocre one #2 if U.S. audiences will accept an Asian non-comedic lead in a TV show and #3 the global impact - this last one is the most telling factor as this may well be a gateway for AMC to penetrate the bamboo curtain.

    At the ****tail reception, I had a great chat with AMC President Charles Collier, who was very open with me about his intentions with the series. I also had some nice chats with most of the cast (unfortunately Daniel Wu was in Hong Kong filming but I've already interviewed him on this for our next issue). I also got to speak briefly with Stephen Fung.

    Photos coming. Our intrepid photographer, Greg Lynch Jr., who does video accompanied me to the sneak peak. I'lll post those on our Facebook as well as in our next issue soon.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
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  11. #26
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    That's what I'm talking about

    Not to play the race card, but this is a breakthrough - an Asian lead in a non-comedic role.

    Oct 13 2015, 2:46 pm ET
    New AMC Show 'Into the Badlands' Praised for 'Groundbreaking' Casting
    by Michael D. Nguyen


    Daniel Wu plays Sunny in AMC's new show "Into the Badlands." James Minchin III / AMC

    A new martial arts AMC television show, which features two Asian-American leads, is receiving strong buzz ahead of its fall premiere.

    "Into the Badlands," starring Daniel Wu and Aramis Knight, is set in a undetermined future where warlord-like barons maintain power through the use of mercenaries known as "clippers." Although in some ways modern, the world has a notable absence of firearms, so combat is primarily hand-to-hand.

    During a panel discussion last weekend at New York Comic Con, Wu was asked how he felt about being one of the few Asian leads of a television show in recent memory.

    "I didn't think about it until after we were done...because I had a career for 18 years in Hong Kong where I didn't have to think about race at all," Wu responded. "And to come back here and be that, to think about when has it been since we've seen an Asian American lead in a show—almost never."

    Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Wu has had a long, diverse career in Hong Kong, including numerous starring roles and even singing in a boy band he founded.


    The 40-year-old actor was originally brought in to produce the show. It was only later that he was cast as the lead role of Sunny, a feared clipper who begins to question his way of life.
    Daniel Wu as Sunny in AMC's original series "Into the Badlands" James Minchin III / AMC

    "It's awesome AMC was adamant. They were adamant that the lead was an Asian, [that] there was an Asian American to play this role," Wu told a packed auditorium of fans.

    Aramis Knight, who is of Pakistani and East Indian descent, will star alongside Wu as M.K., a young man with yet-to-be-explained potential, who acts as the impetus for the show. Knight's past credits include roles in "Ender's Game" and the television series "Scorpion."

    "I think not only is the martial arts groundbreaking but casting [Wu and I] as predominant characters is also groundbreaking. It's never been done before," Knight told NBC News, adding "I think it's sort of amazing that AMC was really the first to say, 'You know, we can sell a mixed race [person] as a lead."


    Aramis Knight as M.K. in AMC's original series "Into the Badlands" James Minchin III / AMC

    The martial arts aspect of "Into the Badlands" was what drew in Wu and director Stephen Fung in the first place. Acrobatic combat was so central to the story and look of the show that Fung's Hong Kong fight unit was deployed along with the conventional dramatic unit. The result is a dystopian show featuring a distinctly Hong Kong vibe.

    "We had this unit and it was running full time...when we say there's authentic Hong Kong martial arts, it's because we used a system that they use in China. This is the system that Jackie Chan uses, the system Jet Li uses, and obviously that Stephen [Fung] and Daniel [Wu] do," Al Gough, one of the show's creators, said.

    "Into the Badlands" premieres November 15 on AMC.
    The boy band comment is incorrect btw. That was for a satire film, The Heavenly Kings, for which Wu earned a Best New Director at the Hong Kong Film Awards.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
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  12. #27
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    That's also what I'm talking about!

    Not to play the sex card, but there are a lot of sword hotties in this show...

    AMC’s ‘Into the Badlands’ Celebrates Martial Arts, Strong Female Characters


    MOVI Inc./Variety/REX Shutterstock
    October 14, 2015 | 04:23PM PT
    Jacob Bryant

    AMC’s newest show “Into the Badlands” held an intimate screening Tuesday at The London, West Hollywood, where creators Alfred Gough and Miles Millar called it a passion project.

    “Miles and I have always been huge fans of martial arts and martial arts movies and it’s something that’s not on television at the moment,” Gough said. “It was a passion project of ours.”

    After working on shows like “Smallville,” where 22-episode seasons were the norm, the two said working on a six-episode season was refreshing and a newer challenge.

    “With six episodes there is a different momentum and things really have to happen,” Millar said. “For us it was ‘how do you make the story interesting and develop the characters in that short amount of time?'”

    “Into the Badlands” follows Sunny, a ruthless warrior played by Daniel Wu, and M.K., played by Aramis Knight, as they travel across the dangerous badlands on a spiritual journey. Through their journey they’ll encounter many of the feudal barons that control the Badlands.

    What drew many of the cast members to the series, aside from the fight scenes, was the amount of strong female characters that resided in the Badlands.

    “My character is the Widow, one of the only female barons in the Badlands,” Emily Beecham said. “She has a group of young women that she calls her Butterflies and she trains them to become very skilled fighters and teaches them that women should have an equal voice to men and they need to fight for it.”

    The Widow is far from the only strong female role in the show. Sarah Bolger describes her character as Lady MacBeth-esque with an innocence and underlying ambition.

    “What’s great is the female characters rule in a way that is not hand-and-fist,” Bolger said. “They rule psychologically and through intelligence and it’s great to be able to do that. There’s a juxtaposition between the gruesome brutality and the mind-manipulating. Our war is one of intellect.”

    (Pictured: Madeleine Mantock, Emily Beecham, Orla Brady, Ally Ioannides and Sarah Bolger at the “Into the Badlands” after-party)
    ...and I was at that after party. And I got to get up-close-and-personal with four of the five ladies pictured above. Pix soon come.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
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  13. #28
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    Pix from the Into the Badlands Hollywood Sneak Preview

    See our facebook album Into the Badlands Hollywood Sneak Preview October 13 Taken at The London West Hollywood Photos by Greg Lynch Jr.


    Emily Beecham


    Sarah Bolger


    Madeleine Mantock


    Ally Ioannides


    Aramis Knight


    Stephen Fung


    Charlie Collier


    Can anyone name all these people? I gave away the first one above.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
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  14. #29
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    Great Pic's ! Rough Gig !

  15. #30
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    From across the pond

    Here's a London-based website's take on this. This is really more about international distribution of the AMC brand than it will be about the U.S. reception of it.

    Show of the week: Into the Badlands



    Into the Badlands is the latest original drama from The Walking Dead channel AMC. Set in a post-apocalyptic future, it is a genre-bending blend of martial arts-meets-western-meets-futuristic-action-series.

    Based loosely on the classic 16th Century Chinese book Journey to the West, considered one of the great novels of Chinese literature, the series is set on a future earth, after the planet has been ravaged by a disaster.

    Chinese-American film star Daniel Wu stars as Sunny, a clipper, an assassin-come-soldier in the employ of one of the warlords who controls the Badlands. The story follows his journey and that of M.K. (The Dark Knight Rises‘ Aramis Knight), a seemingly average teenage boy who actually has special powers.

    Wu sat down with TBI at MIPCOM to talk about his new series and says his move from film into TV was a physically challenging, if rewarding, one.

    “On typical martial arts film there are maybe three or four fight scenes and it is filmed over six months, this had two per episode and I was in every one and was fighting every day in the Louisiana heat wearing a leather trench coat,” Wu said. “I have made almost 70 films, but this is the hardest project I have done physically because so much is happening in a short space of time.”

    AMC has shown some of the most iconic cable series of recent years, from Mad Men to Breaking Bad to The Walking Dead and its companion shows. In the US and internationally it certainly sees Into the Badlands as a show that will sit well alongside smash hit zombie series The Walking Dead.

    Speaking when the former was announced, earlier this year, Bruce Tuchman, president, AMC and Sundance Channel Global, said: “We think Into the Badlands and Fear the Walking Dead will complement each other perfectly as we continue to grow our global footprint and support our pay-TV platform partners in expanding their subscriber base.”

    Into the Badlands should appeal to a wide selection of action fans, spanning, as it does, everything from martial arts to Western.

    “In the simplest sense it is in the martial arts genre, but it is a little more complex than that,” says Wu. “It is combining a lot of elements of Western cowboy films, Asian martial arts films, but in a post apocalyptic America setting, so a it is a mash up of a lot of things and a lot of genres I enjoy. We have taken it all and put it into one, which has been the challenge but also the exciting thing about making this and its success will pivot on that. It is something totally different you haven’t seen on television.”

    The show: Into the Badlands
    The producer: AMC Studios
    The distributor: Entertainment One Television
    The broadcaster: AMC (US)
    The concept: Genre-bending action series set in a post-apocalyptic America where feudal barons rule and clippers (soldier-assassins) enforce the rules

    Date added:
    October 20, 2015
    Company:
    AMC, AMC Studios, Aramis Knight, Daniel Wu, Entertainment One Television, Into the Badlands, The Walking Dead
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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