‘Wu Assassins’ Season 1 Review
Almost two weeks ago now, the first season of a new show called Wu Assassins, came out on Netflix. The story follows Kai, a chef who is granted the powers of the Wu Assassin. His mission is to kill the people with the powers of the corrupted elemental powers of the Wu. The elements are fire, wood, earth, water, and metal. Kai’s power comes from 1,000 monks sacrificing themselves to empower a chosen one (i.e: the Wu Assassin). This all goes down with San Francisco’s Chinatown as the backdrop and gang violence as an integral part of it. To make matters more complicated, the head of the Triad, Uncle Six, is Kai’s father figure and the fire Wu.
The Basic Story
The first two episodes are more focused on establishing who Kai is and the people close to him: Jenny and Tommy Wah, Uncle Six, and Lu Xin. Meanwhile, the SDP, with Inspector CG’s help, is afraid of what they think will be an imminent gang war between the Triad and the Scottish gang. Kai goes on to fight Uncle Six with one of the monk’s faces to protect him, but it doesn’t protect him for long enough. CG fights through Uncle Six’s goons and gets an injured Kai out of the building and Six sees Kai from behind and realizes that it’s him. Basically, the gang story of it all is simple: The Triad owns Chinatown and the Scottish gang is trying to take over.
Later, we learn that the gang’s leader, Alec McCullough has more nefarious plans. It turns out that Alec was actually a Wu Assassin in the 1800s. Unfortunately, the Water Wu killed his wife and son and he eventually became the Wood Wu. He was then forced to live without them with the power of immortality. His plan now, however, is to bring all the elemental Wu’s together to open a portal into the past to reunite with his family.
After Uncle Six learns of McCullough’s plans, he goes to Kai to propose a compromise: to take the fire Wu out of him. The way in which this happens was confusing to me, so I’ll let Ying Ying (Kai’s mentor and the very first Wu Assassin) explain the process:
“There is a poison made from the venom of various animals. It’s called Gu. If you bless each animal with the blood of someone touched by the power of the Wu, a still-living victim, it will enhance the Gu. And Gu, if ingested, will force a struggle within the body of the Wu Xing holder. A struggle for the soul. The culmination of that struggle will cause the Wu Xing to be expelled from the body.”
They then have Lu Xin obtain some poisonous animals and the rest of the gang (minus CG and Uncle Six), cut themselves and pour a drop of blood on either the tarantula or the frog. Then, the frog eats the tarantula, which apparently means that the Wu Xing will come out of Uncle Six’s body. And it does, and it comes out and turns into a talisman. Afterward, they go find the Earth Wu to either convince him to get the Wu Xing out of him or kill him. It, unfortunately, ends up being the latter.
The Last Battle
Eventually, McCullough gathers the rest of the elemental Wu’s together and it all comes down to McCullough’s army versus Kai’s. But it gets complicated when McCullough demands the Fire Wu Xing. Instead of handing it over, Jenny grabs the talisman and she then becomes the Fire Wu. Then, McCullough stabs Tommy and takes Jenny, Tommy, and CG, threatening to kill Tommy if they don’t come with him. The Metal Wu also apparently has the power to take over someone’s body using the metal in people’s blood and he takes over CG. But CG is anemic, so the Metal Wu’s control goes in and out.
Also, with Uncle Six’s fire powers gone, his right-hand woman, Zan, takes over the Triad and joins McCullough’s army. Zan eventually gets Uncle Six and kills him as Kai watches on the phone. They all battle each other, and McCullough ends up getting what he wants. He reunites with his family but Kai gets to him and kills him not long after. After that, everything seems to be settled but it ends with Ying Ying coming back to tell Kai that it isn’t over.
The story itself is a little corny, which is admittedly very reminiscent of old Chinese kung-Fu movies. The powers of the Wu Assassin and a lot of other parts of the story are confusing. In the beginning, Ying Ying tells a very generic story about how the Wu Assassin came to be and it doesn’t explain a whole lot. Furthermore, the “Gu” isn’t really brought up again after nor is it explained why the Wu Assassin doesn’t just take the Wu Xing out of the elemental beholders (opposed to killing them). As the show goes on, however, the story does get better as we learn more about Alec’s past. Ultimately, he becomes the big bad and his actions aren’t necessarily justifiable but at the very least, understandable.
The fight scenes, however, are by far the best parts of the show. They’re intense and intricate with such attention to detail and look spontaneous as if it were really happening in real-time. And they make the entire process seem effortless. The most notable fights, in my opinion, would have to be the one between Kai and Uncle Six and one between Wan and Jenny. Also, the scene of Uncle Six giving the racist waitress a history lesson about Chinese people in America is the best scene. Especially since Kai joins in the fight (literally). But, as great as those were, the story just didn’t make the series as great as it could’ve been. Overall, the fight scenes in Wu Assassins just aren’t enough to keep people interested but it’s a step in the right direction for diversity.
Samantha Nguyen covers entertainment news for MFST. You can follow her on Twitter @mzsnguyenthai and @mzsamnguyenthai. Also, click here to read her personal blog.