Wu Assassins (Season 1), 2019
Signed up the 28/03/2017
Wu Assassins brings real action back into action thrillers. This hidden Netflix gem follows the story of a seemingly ordinary guy (Kai) who comes to fuse with an ancient fantastical force that gives him a rare ability to utilise the quirks of superpowered martial artists that came before him. With this power comes a trainer that only exists in a fantasy world that Kai has access to in the form of visions.
This series circumnavigates the clichés of a martial arts gangstar drama by including compelling fantasy elements that introduce a world of interesting mythology. The world of Wu Assassins is set in China Town in the middle of San Francisco, and with this comes a show that plays like an interactive game of a big city's secret underworld ruled by sinister forces.
The show's plot and is made even stronger by the side narratives of supporting characters that feel just as important to the story as the main character. In fact, the main character plays too much into the nice guy/saviour convention that following him feels tedious at times, thus the story is frequently held together by everyone else. This is especially true with the show's villian, "Uncle Six"; the city's kingpin, who holds a secret power as well, and is relentless as ever to secure his place at the top of the hierarchy—so help anyone who crosses him, no matter their ties to him.
Wu Assassins is a highly enjoyable martial arts action fantasy, slash gangster family drama that seeks to bring back real, non-stunt-doubled fight choreography, a la Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee, back into these type of action thrillers. The show packs heavy, brutal and exciting action and leaves no room to wish for more fisticuff altercations as some of today's action movies/shows would. This is a show that introduces 90s martial arts action aesthetic into more contemporary storytelling, and it works marvellously.
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