‘Into the Badlands’ Star Daniel Wu on Difficulty of Bringing Hong Kong-Style Stunts to TV

“It’s so hard to do that level of action on a TV schedule,” Wu tells TheWrap

James Minchin III/AMC

“Into the Badlands” premieres Sunday on AMC, bringing with it a level of martial arts action seldom seen on American television screens.

Series star Daniel Wu was curious as to why such shows were not more popular in this country, at first.

“We wondered that until we started making the show,” Wu told TheWrap. “It’s so hard to do that level of action on a TV schedule. We’re basically working on eight days per episode. There’s two pretty big fights per episode and it takes a lot of time to get those fights put together.”

Wu plays Sunny, the top soldier for a ruthless tyrant named Quinn (Marton Csokas) in a post-apocalyptic world. Quinn is the most powerful of seven Barons who rule this new world, with each Baron controlling an army of martial artists called clippers.

Wu said that Quinn and Sunny have a bizarre father-son relationship, which causes friction with Quinn’s real son, Ryder (Oliver Stark).

“Quinn has raised [Sunny] to be the son he always wanted, whereas Ryder became kind of the loser son,” he said. “I think Quinn transferred all of his love and affection to Sunny, which obviously built up a lot of anger and resentment in Ryder.”

Series creators, writers, executive producers and showrunners Alfred Gough and Miles Millar said they are eager to explore Quinn’s backstory.

“Quinn is sort of the fucked up Horatio Alger of this world,” Gough told TheWrap. “He started off as a slave, or what we call cogs, in this world. And pulled himself up to become a Baron.”

“He’s incredibly likable,” Millar told TheWrap. “There’s a reason why he’s a Baron. He’s incredibly charismatic, he’s incredibly powerful. So how does someone like that gain power and keep power? These are all things we’ll explore in the first season.”

Gough and Millar also said they are lifelong fans of the Kung Fu genre and were excited to bring it to a television audience.

“Miles and I always loved martial arts films,” Gough said. “One of the first things we did when we were in film school together was go to a Jackie Chan movie marathon. We wanted to do a show that we would be the first fans of.”

Ironically, Gough and Millar would get the chance to work with Chan when they co-wrote the screenplay for the 2000 film “Shanghai Noon” and the 2003 sequel “Shanghai Knights.” But “Into the Badlands” represents something completely different, especially from a visual standpoint.

“It’s a very distressed future,” Millar said. “It’s a sweaty, dirty world. But actually it’s all very beautiful in the sense that nature is sort of preeminent. So you see that power of nature and the physical beauty of nature as well.”

“Into the Badlands” premieres Sunday, Nov. 15 at 10 p.m./9c on AMC.