Wu Assassins is a lot of fun with Iko Uwais kicking ass and Bryon Mann bringing some sophistication to proceedings; the fantasy elements will put some viewers off but I knew going in what to expect so in that respect it didn’t bother me. The pacing could have been tighter at times and Kai needs to be given more personality but it’s an easy watch and it’s never too long between beatdowns.
Plot: A warrior chosen as the latest and last Wu Assassin must search for the powers of an ancient triad and restore balance in San Francisco’s Chinatown.
Review: Wu Assassins is the highly anticipated new Netflix martial arts fantasy series starring Iko Uwais, Byron Mann, Lewis Tan, JuJu Chan and many more. Several people have complained that there is a little too much of a fantasy element to the series but I personally enjoyed the mysticism; sure, it’s nonsense but it’s something a little different and it feels like everything Iron Fist should have been.
Besides having The Raid star Iko Uwais as the lead the biggest selling point of this show for me is Byron Mann who is one of my favourite actors and I have been a fan of his for as long as I can remember; also, how has he never aged? He looks the same now as he did in Street Fighter in 1994. Anyway, he brings class to any movie or TV series and every scene with him in it is Wu Assassins’ greatest strength. Throughout the series you never quite know if he can be trusted but he is the character with the most depth (aside from maybe McCullough) and his complicated father/son style relationship with Kai (Iko Uwais) is one of the many highlights.
I did find Kai a little bland as a character though; Uwais has the martial arts moves and brings plenty of silat flavoured fights but the scenes where he isn’t kicking ass are a little dull. Hopefully for season 2 they give him a bit more personality so he does more than look mildly concerned and say “I’m not a killer”.
JuJu Chan has her best role to date as one of the most hateful villains of the entire series called Zan; she is sneering and just plain nasty with a lust for power that she will go after no matter the cost.
Jenny, Tommy and Lu Xin Lee are Kai’s friends who stick by him and all three have their own journeys. Jenny wants to not have to deal with the family drama of running her parent’s restaurant, Tommy is a junkie and Lu Xin is scarred from a childhood fire and leading a criminal life. There is all kinds of family drama here that plays out to keep things grounded (sort of) in reality. Lewis Tan is one of the coolest people on screen today and I loved watching him as the flawed but ultimately goodhearted Lu Xin; he also gets some great action scenes especially in episode 9.
Undercover cop Christine AKA CG (Katheryn Winnick) is suitably badass; I wasn’t sure how I felt about her at first but she can clearly take care of herself and is a total hero.
Mark Dacascos only shows up a couple of times as the Monk and then for some reason he never appears again and feels slightly wasted.
I loved seeing fellow Scot Tommy Flanagan in a sizable role as McCullough who arguably has the most tragic backstory so we do feel sorry for him for a while but then he sort of just becomes a one note villain by the end. He manages to make it through some ridiculous dialogue unscathed and bring some gravitas to his character.
Some episodes are better paced than others and like most Netflix shows it probably could have easily been 8 episodes.
There is no shortage of action for the most part with plenty of fight scenes and one of my favourites has Iko Uwais and Byron Mann fighting a bunch of rednecks in a restaurant. The scene doesn’t really add anything to the story but it’s an excuse for an ass whipping and one of the most emotionally satisfying. There are a few fights with some obvious editing at times but generally it’s some of the best action you’ll see on television.
The episode entitled Ladies Night feels like the scene in Terminator where Arnie storms the police station. We have fun fight between CG, Zan and Jenny with Zan wearing high heels with spikes on them which was awesome.
Wu Assassins isn’t short on style either with each episode having a nice sheen to it and some cool hip hop tunes that should bring in the younger modern audience.
Overall, Wu Assassins is massively entertaining with Byron Mann stealing the show and it has no shortage of impressive fight scenes. It’s not perfect though and Kai needs to be a more interesting protagonist for season 2 to keep it engaging.