Sep26

Wu Assassins Season 1 on Netflix – How NOT to write a story.

Wu Assassins is a brand new show on Netflix about a man named, Kai Jin (played by Iko Uwairs from The Raid) being chosen as the next Wu Assassin. His task is to eliminate the Wu elementals: earth, fire, metal, water, wood. Considering its strong emphasis on Kung Fu and mystical elements, I thought this show could be a fun watch.

It was and it wasn’t. The split was about 50/50.

Although this show has a commendable cast (with the exception of Ying Ying played by Celia Au). Wu Assassins action-packed Kung Fu choreography is not enough to save it from being a dumb show.

Before I critique the show’s writing, I do want to shout out Juju Chan who plays the Triad orphan, Zan.

Zan played by Juju Chan, Wu Assassins promo art.

She is absolutely amazing in this show and steals scenes from the more well-known actors.

At first, I thought she was going to be a typical, mute henchman, but once she took action, I immediately fell in love. Zan’s fight scenes and attitude are worth suffering through this show’s moronic script.

Zan (Juju Chan) from Wu Assassins, kicking a police officer's butt.
Triad orphan Zan about the steal the show in Wu Assassins

There are three huge flaws in Wu Assassins: Contrived scenes, Unbelievable character motivations, and a plot with no payoff.

Oh, and the special effects are godawful. You’re definitely not going to be wowed by the production value in this show.

If Wu Assassins wants to have a successful second season, I recommend they address these following issues.


Contrived Scenes

A contrived scene is a scene that feels unrealistic or forced into the story in order to make a point.

**WARNING SPOILERS START AFTER THIS LINE**


The diner scene takes place near the middle of the Wu Assassins season.

Kai and Uncle Six (played by the classy Byron Mann) are in Oregon in search of the Earth Wu. While in Oregon, they stop at a diner full of rednecks. These rednecks comment about Kai and Uncle Six “not being from around here.” When the waitress comes over to take their order, she offers Asian chicken instead of sausage and eggs like Uncle Six ordered.

He repeats that he wants sausage and eggs and that’s his final answer. Before the waitress leaves, Uncle Six stops her and goes into a literal history lesson about Chinese immigrants being exploited into building America’s railroads.

He quotes years, acts, and amendments that explain why he and his son, Kai are just as American as she is.

The waitress naturally gets offended and tells a bunch of redneck truckers that the Asian man was rude to her.

The truckers get up from their booth and walk over to Kai and Uncle Six’s table.

A redneck trucker gets in Kai's face at a diner.
Redneck confronts Kai (Iko Uwairs).

They chastise Uncle Six for berating the waitress with a history lesson and then proceed to grab one of the sausages from his plate. The redneck says, “This is the size of Asian dicks.” Then he bites half off and says, “Actually this is more like it.” Kai and Uncle Six share a glance and then proceed to beat up America’s white trash.

Kai kicks a redneck at a diner.
Kai beats up racist America.

Why is this scene contrived? Allow me to explain if my description wasn’t enough for you.

In Wu Assassins, racism against the Chinese is not a theme or an element of the show. Since the show takes place in Chinatown, white people making racist jokes against the Chinese isn’t really a thing.

Furthermore, the scene in Oregon is the first and only time we see rednecks and white people expressing bigotry towards Chinese. As someone with a Hispanic/Latino background, I have experienced racism first hand and it is rarely as blatant as it was in Wu Assassins.

Racism is a hidden poison, one racists take great care in hiding.

Having two rednecks approach a pair of Asians to start a fight was unbelievable and completely forced. If Kai and Uncle Six had been accused of hitting someone or stealing something, the fight would have made sense. Lecturing someone on the history of the Chinese diaspora in the United States is not a reason to fight.

Was the fight scene enjoyable to watch? Not really.

Out of all the choreography the diner fight scene felt the weakest because the fight was unnecessary. If this exact event happened to one of the writers of the show, I would stand corrected. And if that did happen to a writer, why aren’t we watching a documentary on this individual?

The diner scene in Wu Assassins was just an excuse to make a political statement. It’s so on the nose and so blatant, that only an amateur writer would put something like that into a show.

I don’t have a problem with politics and politics can make stories more interesting. I do have a problem with scenes being thrown into a show without consideration as to whether it fits within the rules established by the world. Having a fellow Chinese character call Kai a “jungle rat” doesn’t qualify as establishing racism, especially when that character is a friend to the protagonist. Likewise, portraying white people as dumb, uneducated caricatures only exacerbates racism and hatred. If they had solved the problem without violence, it could have been a worthwhile scene.

I’m sure it was cathartic for the writers, I should know because I’ve written plenty of scenes for catharsis. But this scene did not belong in Wu Assassins.


Unbelievable Character Motivations

Which brings us to character motivations. Part of the reason why the diner scene felt so out of place was because the reasons behind the racist characters’ actions didn’t make sense. If Kai and Uncle Six had been accused of theft or rape, then the diner scene would have made a lot of sense.

**The spoiler train continues below. If reading spoilers ruins your day, you should stop reading. **


The villain’s motivation for collecting all five Wu pieces is so that he could open a gate to be reunited with his family. Alec (played by Tommy Flanagan) is in possession of the Wood Wu which grants him immortality and the ability to heal others. Prior to Alec gaining possession of the Wood Wu, he was a Wu Assassin.

(Like I said, heavy spoilers.)

Due to his role as a Wu Assassin, Alec’s family from five hundred years ago is murdered by the Water Wu. Alec is distraught over his family’s death and vows to kill the remaining Wu’s.

At this point, you would think that Alec’s final resolution would be to kill himself once his job was done. After all, ending his life would instantly reunite him with his family.

Instead, the writer’s decided it would make more sense if Alec killed himself in order to revive seconds later with the Wood Wu piece inside of him.

Does that make sense to you?

He slices his own throat, dies on top of the Wood Wu piece, then comes back to life with the Wood Wu powers.

If you were going to kill yourself, why not just stay dead?

Alec then goes to the corpses of his wife and son and attempts to revive them with the Wood Wu powers. Obviously, this doesn’t work and now Alec remains alive for the next five hundred years.

Losing family is a traumatic experience. I have heard stories of people becoming homeless or suicidal because they lost family members early in life. Most of the population learns to deal with this and accepts that death is a part of life.

I could understand Alec feeling cheated because he never wanted to be a Wu Assassin. What I couldn’t understand was how he goes from Scottish highlander to San Francisco mob boss over a period of five hundred years.

What was he doing that whole time? Five hundred years is a long time to have not found and collected all the Wu pieces.

Why didn’t he just kill himself or allow the Wu Assassin to kill him? He could have been with his family much sooner.

The character motivations were illogical. Alec would have more likely become a crazy homeless man than an obsessed gangster kingpin. Also, considering his goal was to simply be with his family, it makes the reader want the villain to accomplish his goal.

Alec’s motivations and methods didn’t ring true for me.

In fact, Wu Assassins reeked of rushed, lazy, amateurish writing. Why did he have to wait five hundred years to pull this plan off? There wasn’t an eclipse or full moon or red moon or planetary alignment to signify why he had to wait.

The whole thing was DUMB.

Then there’s the question of the other Wu’s, specifically water and metal. Why are they helping Alec? Did they not know that helping him would force them to lose their powers? What is their motivation for helping the Wood Wu if he doesn’t even have mind control powers? He’s not the most powerful Wu, he’s simply the oldest.

Unbelievable character motivations directly correlates to having contrived scenes.

When the motive of the character doesn’t make sense, the scenes in which he is pursuing his goal don’t feel genuine. He was an enjoyable villain to watch, but the writing failed to tap into his true potential.


The nonsensical plot.

Wu Assassins clearly demonstrated that the writing team could not fully translate their big ideas into an episodic show. I’m sure that behind the scenes, Wu Assassins was probably a big ambitious project that got cut down due to only having ten episodes per season. Unfortunately, the writers failed to rebuild a strong foundation in which the show could make sense.

Ying Ying teaching Kai the ways of the Wu Assassin.
The worst actors on the show, Ying Ying (Celia Au) and Kai (Iko Uwairs.)

One of the key problems with the plot was the Wu pieces themselves.

Why do the Wu shards exist?

Why is a Wu Assassin chosen without taking into consideration that they might go crazy after losing someone? The only criteria is being pure of heart? Pretty dumb way to choose your killers. And why would a killer need to be pure of heart?

Why does it matter that people possess the Wu Shards?

Two characters possessed a Wu Shard and didn’t turn evil or become corrupted over time. Why not focus on only killing the evil ones?

Uncle Six is fighting the Wu Assassin, Kai.
Uncle Six and Kai duking it out.

What makes the show even more moronic and cliché is that the writer’s introduce the end of the world trope. “Oh no, we can’t let the Wu’s come together because they’ll take over the world.” Why are they taking over the world? What do they have to gain? Alec had the Wood Wu shard for five hundred years and he never attempted to take over the world.

Despite the terrible writing, Wu Assassins does get a couple of things right.

First off, the fight choreography is impressive. As I mentioned before, Zan is an incredible screen presence. Every time she is in a fight scene, I always want her to win. She may be a villain in this show but I love watching her kick ass.

Zan in the 3 point hero pose, Wu Assassins.
Zan getting ready to fight.
Zan aiming a gun in Wu Assassins.
Zan ready to shoot up some good guys.

Second, all the characters are extremely likeable.

You have the girl that wants to get out of the restaurant business to escape her parents overbearing rule; the drug addict who believes he’s a screw up and struggles to maintain sobriety; the car thief who thinks his burn scars turned him into a monster; the no nonsense undercover detective who is in way over her head; and the kingpin who loves his adopted son despite his son not loving him back.

All of these characters are well acted with two BIG exceptions: the main character Kai Jin and his mentor Ying Ying.

Iko Uwairs puts in an earnest performance and is still likeable as Kai Jin, but out of all the characters he is the most out of place. We are told through dialogue that Kai, his friends, and Uncle Six mostly grew up in the United States. But Kai definitely doesn’t sound American nor does he talk like one. The acting on his part falls flat only because they tried to pass him off as an American. Despite being the weakest in terms of dialogue, he still has a likeable presence to carry us through the season.

The supporting cast are the ones who steal the show from under Kai Jin’s feet, especially Lu Xin (played by Lewis Tan) who seems to have leading man vibes in his future.

If he were the main character in a Sleeping Dogs video game or movie spin off, I would love for Lewis Tan to be the guy. Hell, I’d even take Byron Mann as the lead.

Behind the scenes photo in Wu Assassins where the Russian bad guy and Lewis Tan pose together.
Russian bad guy and Lu Xin (Lewis Tan)
Wu Assassins poster featuring Byron Mann as the villain Uncle Six.
Byron Mann (Uncle Six) being a classy bad ass.

The second actor who ruins her role is Celia Au as Ying Ying. I have never seen a more unconvincing mentor figure than Ying Ying. Her line delivery is wooden and forced. Most of the time she looks like a local community theater girl who got lost on her way to the stage and ended up on a film set. Hammy, cheesy, and completely unconvincing. She is the weakest part of the show and shouldn’t make a comeback for season 2. I’d much rather have Marc Dacascos take over the role as mentor.

Before I end this post, I do have to give Wu Assassins credit for giving the show a lot of heart.

If it didn’t have heart, I would have stopped watching after Episode 2. The writing was incompetent for the most part, but it did a great job of building strong relationships between the characters.

I was especially affected by the relationship between Kai Jin and his adopted father Uncle Six.

Seeing their dynamic play out is what kept me coming back for more. I didn’t care about the Wu shards or why Kai was recruited as the Wu Assassin. What I cared about was how Kai and Uncle Six would or would not repair their relationship and whether Zan would survive until the end of the season.

Uncle Six getting ready to fight.
Uncle Six

If you decide to watch Wu Assassins be forewarned.

The epilogue of the show starts off fantastic and completely fumbles at the goal. It was quite possibly one of the most disappointing and contrived (there it is again) season finales I have ever seen and I have seen many.

Hopefully season 2 will come up with a better script. I think Wu Assassins has a lot of potential, but the writing needs drastic improvement if they want to survive into a third season. I want to love this show but that’s never going to happen if the writing doesn’t improve.


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A Bitter Winter – The Silver Ninja book 1

A Bitter Winter – The Silver Ninja book 1

$14.99 [Paperback] | $26.00 [Hardcover]eBook: $6.00
Author:
Series: The Silver Ninja, Book 1
Genres: Action Adventure, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Superheroes, Urban Contemporary
Publisher: Silver Pencil Books
Publication Year: 2018
Format: Paperback | E-Book | Hardcover
Length: Novel
ASIN: B07DD8GFMV
ISBN: 9781732221307

A disgraced cop takes matters into her own hands when the murderer who killed her partner comes after her family. To stop him, Cindy Ames fuses with a prototype suit and transforms herself into a superhero.

But the suit has a mind of its own and is determined to execute its hidden agenda.

The puppet has become the master, and the hero has become the monster.

Super powers can save a city but break a hero.

A Bitter Winter is book 1 of The Silver Ninja series.

Buy now!
About the Book
The ultimate weapon is a woman with a vengeance. In this action packed superhero fantasy, the powerless becomes the powerful. As the Manhattan snow fell on her shoulders, Cindy Ames stared in disbelief at her bloodstained hands. Her fingers ached from violence. All she wanted was revenge for what happened to her sister. She stole a prototype suit and absorbed its incredible power. With it, she tore through criminals and terrorists in search for the killer who ruined her life. But something went horribly wrong. The red liquid pooling in her hands didn’t belong to her or the criminals. The suit has taken control of her mind and is using her body to fulfill its own purposes. The puppet has become the master, and the hero has become the monster. Can she regain control before she takes another innocent life? “It’s refreshing to read about a character (especially a female superhero), who isn’t perfect and has actual problems she must overcome.” – Kitiera Morey, Author of Meant to Bleed. “Wilmar Luna has taken the usual superhero saga and deconstructed it, shattering any expectations of the ordinary lawful good hero. Cindy isn’t quite an anti-hero, but she is certainly not playing things by the rules.” – Valerie, Cats luv Coffeez blogspot. Curious if this is the right book for you? Read a sample chapter and see for yourself!   A Bitter Winter 2018 promo artwork by Alexander Chelyshev

Wilmar Luna

Couldn't be a superhero in real life so he decided to write his own. When he's not creating empowered female characters he can be found watching films, reading books, and playing lots of video games.
Buy his books here: https://www.thesilverninja.com/purchase/
Wilmar Luna
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About the Author
Wilmar Luna

From the time he put on Superman pajamas and leapt off a flight of stairs, Wilmar Luna has been captivated by stories of heroes saving the day. As he grew older, his fascination with 90's pop culture, video games, and movies filled his overactive imagination with fantastical worlds and legendary heroes.

He found an outlet for his creativity by studying video editing and motion graphics design at Mercer County Community College. After graduating in 2008, he freelanced throughout New York City and has edited numerous indie films, freelanced for the NFL, and also worked with the cinematics team at Rockstar Games. He assisted with the launch of Grand Theft Auto V and was also involved in the creation of cutscenes for Red Dead Redemption 2.

After years of watching his name scroll in other people’s credits (please don’t remove me), Wilmar wanted to develop his own projects and ideas. He decided that if he wanted to tell stories of empowered female characters, paranormal detectives, and ghost stories, he would have to venture off on his own.

Wilmar published his first novel in 2012 and his second in 2014. He also published several horror short stories on Wattpad, as well as concept ideas for a gothic fantasy novel. In 2018, Wilmar completed his novel The Silver Ninja: A Bitter Winter, fulfilling his childhood dream to create an empowered, independent, brand new superheroine for a generation of readers hungry for new stories.

For updates on his latest projects, please visit https://thesilverninja.com or follow him on Twitter @WilmarLuna.

Other Books in "The Silver Ninja"
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Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the page above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Wilmar Luna

Couldn't be a superhero in real life so he decided to write his own. When he's not creating empowered female characters he can be found watching films, reading books, and playing lots of video games.
Buy his books here: https://www.thesilverninja.com/purchase/
Wilmar Luna

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