AMC announced today that they have cast Hong Kong film star Daniel Wu as the lead of the network’s martial arts drama “Badlands” (working title). Wu will also serve as an executive producer on the series.
“Badlands” is a genre-bending martial arts series very loosely based on the classic Chinese tale “Journey to the West.” In a land controlled by feudal barons, “Badlands” tells the story of a ruthless, well-trained warrior named Sunny (Wu) and a young boy who embark on a journey across a dangerous land to find enlightenment.
“After working together with such a talented team of executive producers, writers and executives at AMC, I am excited for the opportunity to bring this character to life,” said Wu.
Wu joins previously announced series regulars Emily Beecham (28 Weeks Later, The Village), Sarah Bolger (“The Tudors,” In America) and Oliver Stark (The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box, My Hero). David Dobkin (The Judge, Wedding Crashers, Shanghai Knights) will be the series director.
A Hong Kong-based Chinese-American actor, director and producer, Wu was born in Berkeley, California and raised in Orinda in a family whose parents were Shanghai natives who were both educated in the States. After graduating from the University of Oregon, he moved to Hong Kong in 1997. A film buff (and scholar in the Chinese martial arts discipline of wushu), Wu admired both Jackie Chan and Jet Li as a youngster. He landed his first professional roles in 1998 in a trio of Chinese-language features, most notably in City of Glass (Boli zhi cheng). Since then, Wu has been featured in over 60 films. He won the prestigious Hong Kong prize as Best Director for his 2006 feature, The Heavenly Kings (Sei dai tinwong), his directorial debut that also brought him the Chinese Film Media Award as Best Director. In addition to his work in front of the camera, Wu has produced five projects, including Night Corridor, Like A Dream, The Heavenly Kings, Tai Chi Zero and Control.
AMC has ordered six, one-hour episodes for “Badlands,” with an expected premiere in late 2015 or early 2016. The project was created by writers/showrunners Al Gough and Miles Millar (Shanghai Noon, “Smallville”). They’ll serve as executive producers along with Dobkin, Oscar-nominated producers Stacey Sher and Michael Shamberg (Pulp Fiction, Contagion), and Stephen Fung and Wu (Tai Chi Zero).
From AMC Studios, “Badlands” will be distributed internationally by Entertainment One Television (eOne).