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‘Into the Badlands’: Martial Arts Drama with No Punch

first_imgSo, for the sake of argument, let us join Sunny and go into the Badlands, this post-apocalyptic world with vast meadows of roses. Early on, after effortlessly wiping out about a dozen dudes without breaking a sweat, Sunny rescues M.K. (Aramis Knight), a teenager he finds trapped in a chest. It turns out that M.K. can unlock a mysterious power of ass-kicking whenever he bleeds, making you ponder the consequences if he ever accidentally nicks himself. And so, on top of motorcycle-riding assassins armed with Japanese Samurai swords, we also have magical teenagers.The Badlands are also occupied by the sickly Baron Quinn (Marton Csokas, The Lord of the Rings), his eighth wife-to-be (Sarah Bolger), his jealous wife (Orla Brady), Sunny’s pregnant lover (Madelein Mantock), and primitive boys training to become cold, heartless Clippers–and follow in Sunny’s footsteps. Figuring out their names was less concerning than trying to understand why all this cliché drama littered the background of a show loosely based on “Journey to the West,” a 16th century Chinese novel.It all was so odd yet so familiar…Apparently, there was something about Sunny’s martial arts skills that piqued the interest of the Baron–who decided to put it to “good” use–and will supposedly keep us enthralled in the journey ahead.But after Sunny brings M.K. back with him inside the high-walled doors of The Fort, where Baron Quinn runs his adolescent training camp, the drama within turns silly and mundane, and the more obvious it becomes that Into the Badlands is nothing more than an excuse to watch Daniel Wu flex his well-oiled muscles.And then it hit me. After tons of dull dialogue, the closing shots flashed on-screen with the song, “Lead Me Home,” by Jamie N Commons. The tune turned a knob in my brain, opened a door, and flooded out memories dating back to February 2013.“Lead Me Home” also concluded an episode of The Walking Dead (“Clear”, season three), when the protagonist Rick Grimes parted ways with an unhinged underling, Morgan Jones, for the second time in the series.This is another post-apocalyptic world. Humans coping with everyday drama are simply trying to live their lives in an environment that won’t let them. It’s the same formula with a new skin. Even AMC’s promotional commercials of Sunny’s martial arts abilities had shot-by-shot similarities to Walking Dead’s Michonne, Daryl and Morgan’s katana slicing, kicking, and stick wielding against the oncoming zombies. The cable network labeled its Sunday double-bill, “Twice The Fight.”Was AMC trying to make another Walking Dead out of Into the Badlands? Sure, there were no zombies lumbering through the Badlands’ rose meadows, and the characters were a lot more settled in, but paralleling the two shows explained all the out-of-place drama.Each commercial break started with these words, “Coming up on Into the Badlands,” leaving viewers hanging with a suspenseful action scene, as though AMC knew the risk that many (myself included) might change the channel if their curiosity weren’t aroused. Almost 20 million viewers tuned in for The Walking Dead’s season six premiere in October, so it’s no surprise that AMC hopes to draw those numbers with the five remaining episodes of its new series before the show enters the real badlands of low ratings.And that might prove the match for a prized martial arts champion like Sunny no matter how many necks he snaps.(Photo credit: AMC) Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Following Sunday night’s zombie apocalypse as depicted by the latest episode of The Walking Dead, AMC presented badass martial arts mayhem with its season premiere of Into the Badlands.A lot of strange words with no context were tossed around–Clippers, barons, and the Colts–but swift sidestepping, bone snapping, and karate whooshing distracted the brain and glued the eyes to the screen.At least for a little while.Wearing “cool guy” sunglasses and riding a motorcycle in a blood-red trench coat, Sunny (Daniel Wu) hits the trail to brighten nomadic and hostile gangs’ days by snapping their wrists and impaling them with rusted skewers or wielding his ever shiny katana.Evidently, once upon a time, Sunny was one of the aforementioned Clippers, assassins who “just show up, kill people, and leave.” But beneath all his ink, which records each of his many kills (404 and counting), Sunny is supposedly just a nice guy who made a bad career move. Now he’s about to rewrite his job description, as we shall soon see.last_img read more

NCAA’s documents released in McNair case

first_imgOn Tuesday morning, the NCAA unsealed hundreds of emails, memos and transcripts that seem to show ill will and bias toward both USC and former running backs coach Todd McNair.“These recent documents confirm what we’ve believed all along, that we were treated unfairly in this investigation and its penalties,” USC Athletic Director Pat Haden said in a statement on Wednesday. “I think these documents are cause for concern about the NCAA’s own institutional controls.”The NCAA had battled to keep the documents sealed by claiming that making them public would inhibit the committee’s ability to conduct investigations in the future.“It should be concerning to all schools that the NCAA didn’t appear to follow its own rules,” Haden said.McNair sued the NCAA for defamation, and his attorneys argued the emails showed that certain officials tried to influence the infractions committee. California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal ordered the NCAA to release the documents in Feburary.The emails seem to prove McNair’s case and show why the NCAA was so concerned with keeping the documents sealed. Two non-voting members, Roscoe Howard and Rodney Uphoff, attacked both the Trojans and McNair in the emails. In one email, Uphoff even compared evidence from the Reggie Bush case to the Oklahoma City bombings.“This evidence in this [Bush] case is, for example, markedly stronger than in the OKC bombing case which was built entirely on circumstantial evidence,” Uphoff wrote, according to CBS Sports.  “In fact, there was no direct evidence that [Terry] Nichols was ever involved in the bombing plot.”Another infractions committee overseer, Shep Cooper, went as far as calling McNair “a lying, morally bankrupt criminal and a hypocrite of the highest order.”USC was sanctioned in 2010 for a “lack of institutional control” in cases regarding former football player Reggie Bush and basketball player O.J. Mayo. The Trojans were handed a  two-year post-season ban and a massive reduction in scholarships over the subsequent four years. Many consider the punishment put on the Trojans to be one of the harshest in history.The NCAA pinned McNair as one of the main contributors to USC’s mishandling of their star players. The NCAA claimed that McNair “knew or should have known” about Bush’s relationship with potential San Diego agents. McNair ended up losing his job at USC in 2010 and has not worked for another team or college since.In voice memos released as part of the sealed documents, Uphoff harshly criticized USC’s hiring of Lane Kiffin following the departure of Pete Carroll.“Paul Dee was brought in at Miami to clean up a program with serious problems. USC has responded to its problems by bringing in Lane Kiffin,” Uphoff wrote. “They need a wake-up call that doing things the wrong way will have serious consequences.”Some members of the committee, including Britton Banowsky and Eleanor Myers, were skeptical about the case, especially against McNair.“It is challenging for me to make the finding when there is no allegation that he personally was involved in any rules violations, or even had specific knowledge of any,” Banowsky wrote.The NCAA released more than 500 pages of documents on Tuesday. A decision regarding McNair’s defamation lawsuit should come within few months.last_img read more