WU ASSASSINS is a Netflix action packed, Jackie Chan-esque, martial arts fantasy TV series. Do the somewhat cheesy visual effects matter?
It stars Iko Uwais as a San Francisco chef named Kai Jin who becomes the latest in a line of assassins chosen to keep the mystical Wu powers out of the wrong hands.
Uwais is an Indonesian actor, stuntman, fight choreographer and martial artist. His excellent skills definitely come to light during this series. However his acting does appear to be a little wooden at times, but that could be part of the character of Kai being a little reserved. That may change as the series progresses and as Kai's confidence develops?
It also stars Byron Mann as Uncle Six, some may recognise him from Skyscraper (2018) opposite Dwayne Johnson. Uncle Six took Kai in as his own when he immigrated to the US. The show does provide a back story to their relationship.
Li Jun Li stars as the sassy Jenny Wah who is Kai's boss, restaurant owner and friend. The show introduces you to how they first met. Li has starred in movies such as Gone (2018) and The Exorcist (2017).
Also appearing is the amazing Kathryn Winnick as Christine Gavin; who is a well trained martial artist. If you've seen the hit show Vikings (2013) you'll know that Winnick stars as Lagertha who is the first wife of Ragnar Lothbrook. Winnick is trained martial artist, stuntwoman, fight choreographer and actress. It is great to see her in action as well as she is very likeable on screen. Apart from some awesome kick ass joint fight scenes of them in the trailer, very early on in the show you get to understand the connection between Christine and Kai.
The build up to Kai's new responsibilities seems to be a little bit rushed but it manages to fit with the fast pace of the action. You quickly learn that Kai is one of the good guys and that he has a huge job ahead of him. He has guidance and training from a girl called Ying Ying played by Celia Au. Kai is able to transform into a monk and channel even more power and to anyone else he will appear as the monk who is played by Mark Dacascos. If you’ve seen John Wick, you will recognise this entertaining man!
Having recently watched Warrior, another martial arts based show that was also set in San Francisco (albeit in the 1800’s) - Wu Assassins has some big shoes to fill in terms of story, character development, script and of course visual effects. It definitely adopts a cheesy martial arts action movie style with grime and trap music to modernise it.
Sure, the visual effects are quite questionable. I'll admit I felt like I was taken back to the 90's visual effects watching Charmed (1998), Xena Warrior Princess (1995) or even Angel (1999). However, something makes me think this B-movie vibe may have been on purpose to put the viewer into that cheese niche martial arts/fantasy genre mind-set?
I think this show will get somewhat mixed reviews but it is a watchable show with likeable characters and actors as long as you don't take it too seriously.