Showrunners underestimate the challenge of delivering quality fight choreography in every episode. A martial arts movie might contain as many fights as two or three episodes of a TV show and then theres several more episodes in a season so television fight crews need to sustain their intensity for much longer. Wu says you can shoot all day for 10 seconds of footage. People wanted to jump into it and then realized that its not easy to do. The reason why I think Badlands was successful was because we were able to do high level action with high level production value with high level storytelling. And we didnt want to compromise that.
Fortunately the creators of Into the Badlands Alfred Gough and Miles Millar had some prior experience with martial arts TV series which helped establish that second action crew. Back in the late 90s they were involved with another unprecedented martial artsbased TV show Martial Law. That show starred Sammo Hung the veteran Hong Kong action star and martial brother of Jackie Chan. Martial Law had multiple martial arts choreographers for different episodes including Stanley Tong a noted
Hong Kong action director Yuen Tak another martial brother of Jackie and Sammo and Andy Cheng who also served as one of the action directors for Into the Badlands. Gough and Millar knew what they were getting into when it came to fight choreography so having a separate fight action crew was in the mix from the beginning. Another element that was there from the start was diversity. All the other characters are very diverse either strong females or strong people of color even the background actors Wu says. This is a directive from the top down that we wanted a very diverse production so not only people behind the scenes were diverse but from the extra level.
The Widow Emily Beecham Lydia Orla Brady and Tilda Ally Ioannides were incredibly strong women warriors without pretense. Whats more they all remained elegantly attired throughout the series never stooping into gratuitous wardrobe choices. Sunnys romance with Veil Madeleine Mantock was unprecedented in television. Asian male leads are seldom portrayed in relationships with nonAsians. An Asian male coupled with a Black female on TV was extraordinary. This presented a unique challenge when shooting season two and three because the production had relocated to Ireland. Ireland doesnt have a lot of people of color Wu says so we had to really search far and wide to get those extras.
No matter what gender or race everyone bleeds the same color. From the opening credits no one escaped the Badlands without getting bloody. The Badlands were soaked in blood. Wu jokes that blood was one of the most expensive commodities. One of our props rooms there was just like gallons and gallons of blood everywhere. All different types of blood too. You have thick viscous blood for certain things. Cheap blood for background blood. All kinds of stuff. And then blood for your face blood for your mouth blood that goes in your eyes all kinds of blood. We definitely went through the whole gamut of blood choices.