AMC hasn’t officially renewed its martial arts drama “Into the Badlands” for a second season, but star Daniel Wu teases there will be more fights and more episodes.
When I whined to Wu before the series began about the season being just six episodes, he said the second season will be 10 episodes with 20 major fight scenes—up from 12 fight scenes this season.
Wu did not add the phrase “if we get a second season.” Update: On March 8, AMC announced a 10-episode 2nd season will premiere in 2017.
The executive producer seemed to confirm a second season for “Badlands” in a recent Facebook post that has since been removed. But again, AMC hasn’t made an official announcement yet.
Filled with kick-ass fights and conflicted characters, the season comes to a close at 9 p.m. Dec. 20 with yet another epic battle and a cliffhanger finale.
For the uninitiated, Wu plays Sunny, a veteran clipper, or warrior, who as the show began had 404 kills to his name. Sunny works for one of the feudal barons in the post-apocalyptic world without guns.
As the season has progressed, Sunny has hatched a plan to escape the Badlands with his girlfriend Veil (Madeleine Mantock) and his protege, a young man with mysterious power named M.K. (Aramis Knight).
With nearly everyone in the Badlands wanting to capture M.K., Sunny is forced to fight many foes using various forms of martial arts and swordsmanship.
Wu, fight director Stephen Fung and fight choreographer Ku Huen Chiu created 12 major fights for the season—11 of which Sunny was the main fighter.
“We shot that over four months,” Wu said of the 12 fights. “Even in a so-called action film you have three or four fight scenes over a six-month period and then you’re done.”
Wu, who was originally brought on as an executive producer in charge of the martial arts side of the show, initially declined to play Sunny because of the physical demands.
“ ‘Well, I’m 40 and I’m not sure my body can take this,’ ” he said he told the creators, Al Gough and Miles Millar. “Once I got my head around how I could train for it then I did my audition and eventually ended up with the role.”
Back in the early 2000s, then 20-something Wu sometimes did eight Hong Kong martial arts films in a year. With more than 60 films to his credit now, Wu says his heavy schedule back then was good preparation for the breakneck pace at which “Into the Badlands” was filmed.
The show began production last summer in southeast Louisiana, where temperatures soared into the high 90s and the humidity was stifling. As Wu said, “We were literally fighting 12 hours a day, six days a week in 90-degree weather with 90 percent humidity and I was wearing a leather trench coat.”
Wu explained that filming for “Badlands” was divided between two units—the action unit and the drama unit—filming concurrently. As the lead, Wu jumped between both units, sometimes doing drama scenes in the morning and rushing over to do his fight scenes later in the day.
One of those scenes was an epic sword fight in the rain pitting Sunny against clippers working for a baron called The Widow (Emily Beecham). The scene was the “Badlands” team’s homage to a fight in Wong Kar-wai’s “The Grandmaster.” (see video above, photos in story.) Wu said that although the two scenes were equal in length, the “Badlands” scene took six days to shoot. Wong Kar-wai filmed his rain-drenched fight in 38 days.
“Now we know why no one’s done this level of action on TV,” Wu said.
If “Badlands” does return for a second season with 10 episodes and 20 fights, Wu is going to be one busy, bruised and battered star.
Related: Sunny’s awesome fight scene
Related: The Widow’s awesome fight scene