In the below clip from next Sunday’s episode of AMC’s “Into the Badlands,” the unique martial arts drama set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, The Widow (Emily Beecham) and her protege Tilda (Ally Ioannides) are having a disagreement. But because this is “Badlands,” they aren’t using words — instead, they’re using swords.
Even if you don’t watch “Badlands,” that’s about all the context you need to enjoy the ensuing battle between The Widow and Tilda. And I can say this with confidence, because last fall, IndieWire was able to visit the set of “Into the Badlands” while it was in production on its second season, and thus got to watch this actual scene be filmed (without knowing too much about what was going on).
So, as you watch this clip, imagine myself and a few journalists taking notes in the corner, observing how the show’s Hong Kong approach to martial arts choreography meant that the scene was designed piece by piece on the fly by martial arts coordinator Huan-Chiu Ku (as IndieWire has described in detail).
“I don’t know what I’m going to do in the next shot ever,” Beecham told IndieWire in between takes. “But you adapt to it, you become more confident with it and you try to make it your own.”
The whole cast works closely with their stunt doubles, but there’s still plenty they’re responsible for performing themselves. And because preparing for this sort of on-screen combat isn’t a matter of just learning the full routine, Beecham focused on an unexpected form of exercise: yoga. “We focused more on building strength and flexibility, and yoga’s really really good for the martial arts,” she said.
When you witness the level of action on display, including multiple instances of wire-fu-enabled flipping, you might consider signing up for some classes yourself. Watch the clip below — “Into the Badlands” airs Sundays at 10 p.m., and has been renewed for a third season by AMC.