by Rodney Turner
Into the Badlands is a new series airing on AMC that would have flown completely beneath my radar had it not turned up in my social media feed. To put it plainly, this is one instance where I am happy to have seen social media ads.
A cataclysmic war annihilates society as we know it. From the ashes, a new feudalistic society is formed. Land and resources are divided between seven barons. These barons, seemingly in control of only one resource each, maintain an uneasy alliance. Each baron supports the two lower classes of society: Cogs, effectively slaves of the Barons and the warrior class known as Clippers. Clippers have a greater deal of freedom than the Cogs, but are still essentially property of the Barons through filial piety.
The story is a complex web of violence and intrigue as each of the main characters struggle for survival. Over the course of the first episodes, it becomes painfully clear that there are no heroes in Into the Badlands. Each thread that bears out affects all the characters in a way that exemplifies how the lives of those around us are touched by our actions.
While there is enough intrigue to sustain the show, there is also plenty of action. The fight scenes are choreographed by Stephen Fung (also the show’s Executive Producer) and Ku Huen-Chiu, both veterans of Hong Kong cinema. The pair make the sudden and brutal violence of Into the Badlands a thing of ethereal beauty.
Adding to the show’s uniqueness is the design aesthetic. East Asian and late 19th- early 20th century American elements are combined into a look that is perfect for this world and must be seen to be appreciated fully.
Overall, Into the Badlands is a stylish action-drama that does not get bogged down by any of its elements. My only criticism (other than a rather monochromatic cast) is that the first season is so short. Six episodes are just enough to get you hooked on the style and the substance and leaves you wanting to see more of this world.
If you get the chance, you should check it out.