“Into the Badlands” struggles to find identity

AMC has spawned a wealth of television dramas such as “Breaking Bad,” “The Walking Dead” and “Mad Men” that have attracted millions of weekly viewers and many positive reviews. However, their newest series “Into the Badlands” does not seem like it is shaping up to be another success for AMC.

The show’s premise is simple enough: a fictional feudal land is brought to heel under the grip of seven warring barons. The majority of the citizens of this land are known as Nomads, who are thieves that scavenge from the countryside  and prey on innocent travelers. The barons also enslave those who are unfortunate enough to become warriors to work in poppy fields. The barons’ warriors are known as Clippers and are highly skilled in the art of sword play and hand-to-hand combat.

The most feared Clipper in the land is a man named Sunny, whose very name is misleading. Sunny is tall, brooding and a lethal killer. Clad in a long, red leather coat and wielding a katana, Sunny scours the Badlands, killing at his baron’s bidding. With each kill, Sunny gets a tally tattooed on his back — just another notch in the belt.

After the first two episodes, Sunny has rescued and promised to train a young boy named M.K. who has been born with supernatural powers. Yeah, it’s shaping up to be that kind of show. There is also talks of a secret land far away from the Badlands that holds the answers to something big. What this big thing is, wealth, the secret to eternal life or a free buffet with never ending pie, we will have to wait and see.

The show is stylistically intriguing, mixing Japanese martial art fighting styles with a Western, steampunk setting. Think “Kill Bill” meets “Mad Max” meets “The Matrix.”

The fight scenes are visually appealing and well choreographed with plenty of blood and bone breaking if that’s what you’re in to.

But that’s about all “Into the Badlands” has going for it right now. None of the characters are particularly interesting and the story is generic and formulaic. The show also tries to blend too many genres into one and struggles to find its identity as a result.

There are glimmers of promise amid the mess and it does seem like “Into the Badlands” is beginning to gain some traction but it remains to be seen whether it can hold its own against the zombies and drug kingpins.

For now, if you’re in to martial arts fighting, “Into the Badlands” might be worth your time, but expect only a mild divergence until “The Walking Dead” returns in February.