I’ve been watching Into the Badlands, and I think I’ll categorize it under guilty pleasure. It’s like a good mix of all those classic Chinese martial arts movies (Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, any Jackie Chan film) with impossible feats using swords—Daniel Wu is amazing, like Jackie Chan who was a mentor, and it’s fun to watch. Badlands is some sort of weird world where the baron’s banned guns and people seem to use candles, mostly, but they have cars, opium and oil refineries. Lots of opium for some reason. (there will be some spoilers)
So, it doesn’t quite make sense that you have everything from vixens in skirts and high heels fighting, skintight dominatrix style outfits, steam punk clothing, weird semi-Chinese armor, and the proles in medieval castoffs. I would get tired of wearing all of one color which is what the “clippers” (warriors) wear for each baron they serve.
It’s awfully gory yet campy (think Kill Bill) and a future where violence is always the first answer, a bunch of conniving assholes as barons, and a lone warrior with honor. Yeah, part western, part martial arts, and the theme songs reflects this. I do love the clothing and the action scenes but some stuff is predictable and some is so dumb.
Take the “Blind Cannibal Assassins” episode. Our intrepid adventurers (there is a sidekick and a man hunting them who feels he was done wrong—and made fun of because of silly “honor”) stumble upon blind cannibals. These people’s eyes were stabbed out by none other than our hero. All good conflict stuff, but for some reason, while these blind folks are so good in their blindness that they can do all sorts of crazy fighting feats and acrobatics—they can hear a breath, a concern, almost an idea, but somehow, they can’t hunt so they only hunt people. Yum yum! Because, yeah, once you’re made a monster you’re always a monster. They scrape their weapons along the walls of their underground cavern because if you’re blind you need to also live in squalor in the dark but preserve your dead babies in jars that you can’t see (I said there would be spoilers). And of course people who have been blind for a while actually already know where the walls are and can do it without touch. Oh, and these blind cannibals have an impeccable sense of color and all wear white. But they don’t wash and they don’t clean.
You can see some of the silliness here, used to make the show more visual, with more contrast between evil and good and downright crazy. The storyline is good enough and there are some interesting powers beside superhuman martial prowess. Who are those dark-eyed ones?
It’s absolutely unclear what happened to the world before but there seems to be a lot of space, and a lot of idiot barons running the show in their two-dimensional nastiness. Mayhem constantly ensues. Shot mostly in Ireland, there are awesome backdrops to the wars and petty intrigues. The storyline has enough twists and the acting is competent and it’s visually enthralling so I’m still watching it. And hey, the lead actor is Asian. That’s refreshing. I’ll keep watching this guilty pleasure.