Oliver Stark as seen in "Into the Badlands"
There are dramas for people who love murder mysteries, cop shows and even comic books, but a unique drama offers viewers something totally new, with elaborate fight scenes and stunning visuals.
Chinese-American action star Daniel Wu ("Gen-X Cops," 1999) brings his talents to the small screen as Sunny, a fiercely skilled warrior in AMC's martial arts drama "Into the Badlands," which returns for a second season Sunday, March 19. The show is set in a post-apocalyptic world where guns have been banned and seven ruthless barons rule what was once the American midwest, thanks to loyal warriors, or clippers, like Sunny.
One of the most dangerous clippers in the Badlands, Sunny has worked his way up through the ranks to become regent (head clipper) to the area's most powerful Baron, Quinn (Marton Csokas, "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring," 2001). In the first season, Sunny encountered a teenager, M.K. (Aramis Knight, "Ender's Game," 2013), who harbored a dark power, prompting Sunny to take M.K. under his wing as his newest trainee, or "colt," as they're called in the Badlands.
"Into the Badlands" was a hit right out of the gate when the series premiere in November 2015 pulled in more than 6.4 million viewers overall. The show went on to average more than five million viewers per episode, earning it the distinction of being the fourth-highest-rated freshman season of any cable series ever. Not surprisingly, it didn't take long for AMC to order a second season.
"With its deep dive into authentic martial arts, the visually stunning 'Into the Badlands' proved to be unlike anything else on television," said AMC executive Charlie Collier when the 10-episode season 2 deal was announced last March. He went on to praise creators Alfred Gough ("Smallville") and Miles Millar ("Shanghai Noon," 2000) for delivering an "artfully crafted series."
Acclaimed for its elaborate combat scenes and swordplay in season 1, "Into the Badlands" is expected to be even more action-packed in season 2 as Sunny -- now separated from M.K. -- struggles to get back to the Badlands and his family. Meanwhile, M.K. struggles to get a handle on his powers. Mysterious new allies aid the clipper and colt, but these so-called friends may have ulterior motives. At the same time, dangerous baron Minerva (Emily Beecham, "The Village"), also known as The Widow, continues her quest for more power. All the while, a new threat rises.
Production moved from Louisiana to just outside Dublin, Ireland, for season 2, giving the series an even more distinctive look. And that isn't all that's new this season: Nick Frost ("Shaun of the Dead," 2004) has been added to the cast as a series regular, playing Sunny's new ally, Bajie, a man of "questionable morals" who gets stuck in a mining prison along with Sunny.
Daniel Wu stars in “Into the Badlands”
All of the fan favorites from last season are back for the new season, too. In addition to Wu, Knight and Beecham, Oliver Stark ("Underworld: Blood Wars," 2016) reprises his role as Ryder, Quinn's son and newly minted baron. Stephen Lang ("Avatar," 2009) returns as Waldo, a once-great clipper who buys into The Widow's promise to reform the Badlands.
Ally Ioannides ("Parenthood") continues the tradition of "Into the Badlands's" powerful female characters as Tilda, The Widow's devoted teenage daughter and deadly regent. Orla Brady ("Mistresses") is Lydia, Quinn's first wife, who now finds herself a reluctant member of Penrith's (Lance Henriksen, "Aliens," 1986) Totemist commune. Meanwhile, Sarah Bolger ("Once Upon a Time") stars as Ryder's new wife, Jade. Madeleine Mantock ("The Tomorrow People") plays Veil, Sunny's lover and the mother of his newborn child.
Both male and female characters get to partake in the fast-paced fight scenes that make "Into the Badlands" one of this season's most buzzworthy shows. While Wu has an extensive background in martial arts, having trained in wushu since the age of 11, many of the show's other stars didn't have martial arts training before they landed the "Into the Badlands" gig. The actors undergo intense training to make the scenes look as real as possible, thanks to the guidance of martial arts choreography Master Dee Dee Ku, who's helped actors prepare for such films as "Fist of Legend" (1994), "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" (2000) and "Kill Bill: Vol. 1" (2003). Before filming even began, the performers trained six hours a day for weeks on end to learn about basic kung fu choreography, weapons and more. Executive producer Stephen Fung ("House of Fury," 2005) also serves as the program's fight director.
AMC's action drama won't just appeal to martial arts fans -- there's plenty of intrigue, suspense and stellar performances, not to mention a visually stunning post-apocalyptic world to keep viewers on the edge of their seats. Find out what all the fuss is about when "Into the Badlands" returns Sunday, March 19, on AMC.