Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Kung Fu and Crime Scenes in Two New Cable Dramas

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Kung Fu and Crime Scenes in Two New Cable Dramas

Article excerpt

Television today is a huge buffet, offering something for every appetite. As a bonus, if you graze enough, you're likely to sample something you thought wasn't your taste, only to discover a new pleasure.

That's true in two cable dramas arriving this weekend.

Already, AMC's "Breaking Bad" has led millions to embrace a meth maker, while "The Walking Dead" has converted the zombie-phobic into fans.

Next up, AMC hopes to draw masses to martial arts in "Into the Badlands," making its debut Sunday. That may not be as hard a sale as you might expect.

Gorgeously crafted by "Smallville" creators Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, "Into the Badlands" is a dystopian kung fu Western with echoes of everything from "Deadwood" to "Game of Thrones" to great martial arts epics like "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon." You'll even see a hint of "The Walking Dead" as our hero, Sunny (Daniel Wu), roars past on his motorcycle, katana sword on his back.

Derivative? True fans of the genre are likely to think so, but that familarity makes the entry point into "Badlands" easier for the average viewer. So does a beautiful, ballet-like opening fight scene in which Sunny gracefully takes out a horde of enemies not nearly so well-dressed as he is.

Civilization as we know it is history in "Badlands," set in an indeterminate time and place. The known world is divided among six Barons, who control the poppy trade and battle for power, Westeros style.

Sunny, found as an orphan, was raised by Baron Quinn (Marton Csokas), who trains abandoned children as warriors called Clippers. That is the expected fate for M.K. (Aramis Knight), brought in by Sunny after mysteriously surviving a slaughter. But a medallion M.K. wears strikes a chord in Sunny, inspiring him to consider defying the Baron.

"Into the Badlands," which will run just six episodes, is billed as being inspired by an old Chinese story about a quest. In the first episode, though, we're mostly stuck behind the Baron's walls, meeting his wife, Lydia (Orla Brady), and son, Ryder, who is dangerously jealous of Sunny. …

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