Wu Assassins: Drunken Watermelon
August 8, 2019 8:23 PM - Season 1, Episode 1 - Subscribe

I don't plan on posting a thread for every episode of the season - I've just got a general US-pop-culture level of familiarity with martial arts film, so I doubt I'd have anything substantial to put in the 'more inside's, and this doesn't seem like it's going to be a puzzle show with a lot of plotting to keep track of. If someone with more martial arts knowledge wants to take it on though, please feel free. If not, whoever makes it to the finale first can post a full-season thread.

Anyway, I thought this was an entertaining start. I've never seen the 'The Raid' movies, but the fight scenes in this episode made me want to. (Also, is Iko Uwais super-short, or did they cast a lot of super-tall actors around him? I'm so used to movies casting/filming to ensure that the lead looks as tall/taller than the supporting cast, this was a nice change.)
posted by oh yeah! at 5:20 AM on August 9, 2019

The fight scenes are captivating; the skill and athleticism of the actors is utilized. The productionas a whole is weirdly complex in a way that the seams are splitting, but in a fun way. All the characters have motivations, and there are a ton of them. Family dynamics. There are lots of characters. A real sense of place; it really feels like San Francisco.

Much of the acting is so bad that it's good, in a truly good way.

The mythology/world-building is understated and also even a little complex, for better or worse.

It seems like that had much more of budget than they knew how to effectively use, so there's extra characters, extra sets, extra everything. And the computer graphics are still bad but not so bad it ruins immersion. It's great.
posted by zeek321 at 8:16 PM on August 9, 2019

(Also, The Raid is the best action movie of all time. I love this guy as a lead, and the mix of Cantonese and English is really fun.)
posted by zeek321 at 8:17 PM on August 9, 2019

The Raid movies are absolute masterpieces as far as I am concerned and because of that I will watch Uwais in anything hoping for a few more seconds of The Raid experience.

That being said I couldn't make it through the first episode of this. Two lines stood out to me as so, so painfully bad that I had to look up the writers and it's a bunch of old hat white TV writers from shows like Remington Steele and The 100. This feels very much like it is a let's get professional writers to appropriate some Chinese mythology for some cash.

guy: you're half chinese? which half?
Uwais: the half you can't see.

Uwais: You're not funny.
gross friend: The woman I was with last night said I was

I mean, if you're going to write a dudebro creep at least have the guts to pull a "your mom" joke and not some awkward attempt at locker room humor.

When the completely lifeless and wooden woman character hands Uwais the weird power thingy and a giant water snake appears and she transforms into a Wu warrior and delivers an even more wooden line I just had to shut it off. I checked to make sure it wasn't rated TV-Y7 for kids.

Come on Hollywood, put some talent behind Uwais. He's ridiculously talented and compelling when given something interesting to work with.
posted by M Edward at 8:51 PM on August 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

When the completely lifeless and wooden woman character hands Uwais the weird power thingy and a giant water snake appears and she transforms into a Wu warrior and delivers an even more wooden line I just had to shut it off.

Oh yeah, that was extraordinarily painful. But combine that with the real sense of place of San Francisco and Oakland (and more), and you get a strange object that has never existed before. This thing has real signs of life amidst complete awfulness, and I am delightfully confused.

Maybe you combine soullessness with soul (accept shitty story elements to get a bigger budget?? dunno) and that's the only way to bootstrap to something that doesn't completely grind away the international values and amazingness that American studio machinery can't preserve.

Maybe it's a completely soulless cash grab that is unintentionally amazing. I don't know.
posted by zeek321 at 9:49 AM on August 10, 2019

I wanted to like it; I was a fan of Witchblade back in the day (iirc, the second season was actually good and dramatically different than the first).

This, this is just bad on virtually every level. The kind of bad where they earnestly tried, but were just not good.

I appreciate getting Cantonese out there in media (conspiracy theory: anti-Mandarin... non-conspiracy theory: Cantonese wave(s) ahead of the later Mandarin immigration (and economic ascension of China) establishes Cantonese as the de facto North American chinese dialect, although that is changing some places).

The opening fight scene was pretty generic. Then the four generically Ming-dynasty heavy armour ghosts (in four colours/ elements!) made me shut this down. I might try power my way through the pilot again (starting from where I stopped).

If it was a homage to 'Big Trouble in Little China,' even that's a little sketchy, but complicated. But I don't think that's the case, it's just using a really generic and tired trope. Maybe the Asian actors are young enough not to be familiar with yelloxploitation, but we're certainly not at the point where ironic 'xploitation is ironic enough to be worthy of attempting.

I think another aspect is that this might be aimed at younger adults.
posted by porpoise at 6:32 PM on August 10, 2019

Iko Uwais is just under 5'5" so he's at least a couple of standard deviations from Caucasian average heights.

I'm not so sure that height is as valued as a secondary sexual characteristic in Indonesia/ Asia as it is in NAmerica. He's got so many more amazing physical characteristics that his lack of height might make all those other characteristics more impressive?

I may very well be wrong, but my vague impression was that being too tall was more embarrassing to kids than being shorter.
posted by porpoise at 6:36 PM on August 10, 2019

Heh, I’m on the fence for the show, but I’m digging the Blackpink love for the music in the second playing of the initial fight scene. It does feel slightly out of place and I’m scratching my head on why they would obscure the culmination of Lisa’s rap where she goes “d-r-r-r-r-r rambo”, which is like the only line that matches the mood of the scene. At least they got the FU pay me line :)
posted by forforf at 6:38 PM on August 10, 2019

He's got so many more amazing physical characteristics that his lack of height might make all those other characteristics more impressive?

It didn't strike me as unusual to pit Kai against taller guys in fight scenes, having a shorter/smaller guy defeat a gigantor is a pretty standard action movie trope to show how impressive the hero is. It was seeing scenes with Kai & Lu Xin just talking - Lewis Tan is 6'2" to IkoUwais Uwais' 5'6" according to imdb, and I found it refreshing that the show didn't bother trying to conceal that. Like, we all know that Robert Downey Jr. is way shorter than Chris Hemsworth & Evans, but, I don't think there are any shots in the Avengers movies just matter-of-factly showing Iron Man being half-a-head shorter than Thor & Cap.
posted by oh yeah! at 7:29 AM on August 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

Ok, made it through to the finale, Full Season thread is up now
posted by oh yeah! at 7:44 AM on August 11, 2019

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