A new AMC martial arts drama series starring Asian American actors Daniel Wu (“Tai Chi Zero,” 2012) and Aramis Knight (“The Dark Knight Rises,” 2012) is set to hit screens this November.
“Into the Badlands” is a six-part series set centuries into the future in a feudal society called the Badlands. Seven rival Barons have control of the resources necessary to daily life and are able to do so with the help of armies composed of Clippers.
Among these Clippers is a well-trained warrior named Sunny, portrayed by Wu, who encounters a young boy named M.K., portrayed by Knight, in an attack against the Badland’s most powerful Baron, Quinn, to who Sunny’s loyalty is dedicated. The series follows the spiritual journey of Sunny and M.K. across a dangerous land.
Based loosely on the classic Chinese tale Journey to the West, the action-packed series has already been touted for ‘groundbreaking’ casting, NBC News reported.
Wu, who was originally brought in to produce the show, wound be being cast as the lead of the series.
“It’s awesome AMC was adamant,” he told an auditorium of fans at New York Comic Con, according to NBC. “They were adamant that the lead was an Asian [that] there was an Asian American to play this role.”
During the panel discussion in New York, Wu was asked about how he felt being one among a handful of Asian leads cast in a television show in recent times.
“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 said, according to NBC. “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.”
In the series, Wu interacts closely with 16-year-old Knight, who is of German, Eastern Indian and Pakistani descent. At a media roundtable on Tuesday, Oct. 13, Knight admitted to not knowing of Wu’s popularity prior to the show. However, he described working with the actor as “amazing.” With no prior martial arts training, Knight went through a seven-week boot camp and received advice from Wu to prevent injury and increase flexibility.
“We developed sort of an apprentice-master relationship throughout fight camp because he did help me so much,” Knight said, adding that the pair formed a relationship off the set that played into the series.
“That’ll definitely be obvious when people start watching it, that the relationship between M.K. and Sunny is very similar to that of me and Daniel’s,” he said.
Fight scenes in the show were choreographed under the direction of Stephen Fung, who served as both executive producer and fight director. At the roundtable, he expressed pride in the actors on the series who never had a day of martial arts training but managed to execute moves on screen.
“Into the Badlands” is set to premiere on Nov. 15 at 10 pm ET/PT.