While William Shakespeare was churning out sonnets and plays in Europe and basking in the accolades of royalty and commoners alike, Wu Cheng’en was essentially living the life of a hermit in 16th century China. Yet his seminal work, Journey to the West, is this very year going to see life Wu Cheng’en could never have imagined. American cable tv company AMC has promised to deliver a new adaptation of Journey this fall as a six-part series called Into the Badlands. The series will star Hong Kong-based actor/director Daniel Wu as an adaptation of Wu Cheng’en’s heroic warrior, Xuanzang, the Buddhist monk who traveled west from China in search of sacred texts and enlightenment. Daniel Wu developed an interest in martial arts at an early age and became a practitioner of wushu, even founding and coaching his own university wushu team. As the most acrobatic of the martial arts, we can be assured that Wu’s knowledge and mastery of wushu will contribute dramatically to the upcoming tv series.
Martial arts have made a resurgence in tv and film industries in recent years, and Badlands is next in line to offer a fantastic venue for the display of martial arts’ prowess, discipline, and spectacle. More than just an excuse to film the hottest MMA fighters within a slim storyline, Badlands will bring with it a healthful measure of Chinese culture as told in Wu Cheng’en’s original work. While the historical accounts of Xuanzang’s journey are in themselves exciting and the monk was certainly daring (he traveled despite an imperial ban on travel), it’s very likely that AMC’s adaptation of the novel will involve a greater focus on Mr. Wu’s skills as a martial artist. And we can’t wait.