Hollywood, and its ilk, have form in taking very good foreign actors and struggling like hell to give them decent roles. One only has to look at Jackie Chan to know that.
With Iko Uwais (“The Raid”, “Mile 22”) it’s no different. He played a strange, is-he-or-isn’t-he-a-bad-guy role in Mile 22 but there’s been a general struggle to find him something he can really call his own.
Well, Netflix to the rescue with a bit of luck as they have put him as the lead in their latest series, Wu Assassins, with the first episode written by co-creator John Wirth (“Nash Bridges (TV)”, “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (TV)”) and directed by Stephen Fung (“Tai Chi Zero”, “The Adventurers“).
It sees Uwais play Kai Jin, a chef who dreams of running a food truck in Chinatown, USA. His father is Uncle Six, Byron Mann (“Skyscraper“, “The Big Short“), a local gangster who is feared throughout Chinatown.
Jin wants nothing to do with though, or with his Lu Xin Lee, Lewis Tan (“Deadpool 2“, “Into The Badlands (TV)”), who makes money by stealing cars.
But Jin makes a mistake whilst working at his friend’s restaurant, upsetting some local triads who then try and come after him. It’s while escaping these guys that he stumbles across Ying Ying, Celia Au (“Lodge 49 (TV)”, “Iron Fist (TV)”).
Ying bestows Jin with the power of 1000 monk’s, turning him into the latest Wu Assassin. We’re not really sure why at this stage, I’m sure that will come out in the wash later.
Anyway, naturally Jin is sceptical, but gets the chance to unleash some of these 1000 monks as he opens a can of whoopass on some triads who try and find him at his apartment block.
It’s an auspicious start to Wu Assassin’s as Uwais is kicking ass straight from the get-go. This opening scene also transpires to be the final scene as well.
It’s the in between bits that don’t work so well, dragging along as Jin is awkwardly given his powers completely out of the blue with very little explanation. This scene isn’t helped by Au who just doesn’t seem to believe a word she’s saying, which is right in a way, but you get what I mean.
Uwais is good though he doesn’t get to do an awful lot despite being in it throughout. The fight scenes are well shot, you actually get to see what’s going on, thanks Fung!
I find the first episodes of new series are always tricky as everything needs to be explained and it can slow things down. We’ll definitely give Wu Assassin’s more viewings, let’s hope the explanations are kept to a minimum.