TL;DR – A good start to a season and a good promise for the things to come
Score – 4 out of 5 stars
It has been a long time since I have seen someone attempt a martial arts TV series in the west and it not be mostly a disappointment. With that in mind, I came into Wu Assassins with a little apprehension but after watching the first episode I have some hope.
So to set the scene, we open in on San Francisco and Kai Jin (Iko Uwais) who works as a chef at his friend Tommy’s (Lawrence Kao) place (well actually his friend’s sister Jenny’s (Li Jun Li) place but it is complicated). Tommy is throwing a party for his Triad friends and when something goes wrong Kai steps in to stop one of the cooks getting attacked. This means that the Triad has to respond, attacking Kai while he works in a food truck. As he is escaping he hits a woman, instead of finding someone injured on the street, he finds a woman (Celia Au) who gives him the power of 1000 monks to fight an oncoming storm.
course one of the big bonuses of this show is their leading cast. Iko Uwais has
a physicality about him that is almost unmatched in the industry. He helps make
those action scenes hit that little bit harder and flow a little bit better.
This is all supported but what is a clearly a great stunt team, which is a must-have
in a show like this. All of this combines to make some really interesting
moments in the first episode with the potential of more. One thing that I hope
they work on a bit is that some of the dialogue exchanges felt a little stilted
like the actors didn’t have as much rehearsal time as they needed.
As far as pilot episodes go, this one is a very slow build, and this is one of the few times where I think the in medias res actually worked because it was a gateway to where we will be ending up. It also helped because what we saw at the start is not quite what went down, which I loved because it was using the technic to hid something in plain sight. The bonus also means that we get to see Mark Dacascos do his thing, which is always fun.
far as the rest of the production went, I really liked the musical score, it
was something a little different than we see in shows like this and it was
really engaging. Also while the special effects were not the greatest, they
were still good for TV. They also were not the main focus of the show, with it
more using hand-to-hand combat that was cut really well together.
In the end, do we recommend Wu Assassins: Drunken Watermelon? As a first episode, it does everything it needs to, sets up the bad guys, the relationships, the overarching myology, and the twist. Now, can the rest of the season live up to that? Well, let’s see.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow
Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV,
he’ll be talking about International Relations,
or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Wu Assassins
Directed by – Stephen Fung
Written by – John Wirth
Created by – John Wirth & Tony Krantz
Production/Distribution Companies – Flame Ventures, Nomadic Pictures & Netflix
Starring – Iko Uwais, Katheryn Winnick, Byron Mann, Lewis Tan, Tommy Flanagan, Tzi Ma, Lawrence Kao, Celia Au & Li Jun Li with Juju Chan, Cranston Johnson & Mark Dacascos