TV shows

‘Iron Fist’ TV show has lots of martial arts and then some

Brett Chan, the show’s stunt co-ordinator, says that the Netflix show is nothing like ‘Daredevil’, ‘Luke Cage’ and ‘Jessica Jones’.

The newest defender of humankind joins the ranks this week. Following the successful Netflix-Marvel productions of Jessica Jones, Daredevil and Luke Cage, Iron Fist has made its debut on the streaming platform on March 17, introducing us to the final and fourth defender and readying the streets for an eventual bigger fight in The Defenders, also set for release in 2017.

Scott Buck’s Iron Fist tells the story of billionaire Danny Rand (Finn Jones), who returns to New York City 15 years after surviving a plane crash. Danny has spent the years training in martial arts in the mystical city of K’un L’un. Having plunged his hand into the molten heart of a dragon, he has gained the powers to invoke the iron fist when needed. On his return, Danny tries to reconnect with his legacy and his friends, but is forced to use his kung fu skills and superpowers to fight a new enemy.

Previous Marvel-Netflix adaptations of the Defenders series have been consistently breaking out of the superhero action genre, and similar things can be expected from Iron Fist.

But not all the noise surrounding Iron Fist has been positive. The show was first called out for cultural appropriation, and for missing an obvious opportunity for diversity and representation. Jones and Henwick have defended the series, hoping that viewers will look at the context before judging it. And it is being judged – early reviews do not promise the binge-worthiness of Jessica Jones or Daredevil.

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Iron Fist.

But there is a lot to look forward to here – a good cast, an interesting origin story and elements of the mystical. The series is based on martial arts, but it isn’t all action, stunt coordinator Brett Chan told Scroll.in. “The grounding of the episodes, and what the producers wanted was definitely different with regard to how we tell the story,” he said. “They were trying to diverge into Danny’s character, to give the character more substance. They really play a lot on the characters around him who help build his character, to exemplify or to amplify the good and bad around people. It is also different in the aspect of how it looks. Daredevil, Luke Cage and Jessica Jones are very dark, whereas this is very different.”

Finn Jones played Loras Tyrell in Game of Thrones, where he didn’t get too many opportunities to wield a sword. But as Iron Fist, Jones had big shoes to fill. “This was a little bit different for him because what he had to do was really train for some things,” Chan said. “He had a very hectic schedule, so it was hard for him to even to be able to get to do a lot of training. Martial arts isn’t something you can just pick up, or train for every once in a while. It’s something you need to be really involved in, it’s a lifestyle.”

Finn Jones (left) on the sets of Iron Fist.
Finn Jones (left) on the sets of Iron Fist.

Iron Fist isn’t Chan’s first project with Netflix. He has been stunt coordinator for the company’s original series Marco Polo, which relies heavily on martial arts. But the preparation for the two shows couldn’t be more different.

“The Chinese martial arts evolved,” Brett explained. “When we were doing Marco Polo, it’s the 13th century, so only certain martial arts were developed by then. It was easier for us to navigate that, to see which kind of martial arts we can teach, and alter what is being practised for a war combat situation, when needed. With Iron Fist we put aspects of the older styles, Wing Chun, animal styles, and the Wushu style.”

Since the series producers wanted to minimise wire work, Finn and his stunt double had to work hard to make the stunts convincing. “With wire work you can do fantastical things that are very superhuman, which they [the producers] wanted to keep away off, to keep Danny Rand/Iron Fist very real,” Chan said. “But we were able to play with his martial arts more and make it more modern and still use the elements of older forms to give it some authenticity of K’un L’un.”

The real star on the sets was Jessica Henwick, who plays Colleen Wing, the katana-carrying Japanese martial arts expert in the show. “She trained six hours a day with us,” Chan revealed. “Whether she was training or not, she would make it to class.”

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Jessica Henwick as Colleen Wing in Iron Fist.

Chan has several action movies and TV shows to his credit, having worked in The Last Samurai (2003), X-Men 2 (2003) and Underworld: The Rise of the Lycans (2009). What would he like to do next? The Bourne Series, or a production of an epic scale like Mulan or The Raid: Redemption.

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Ten awesome TV shows to get over your post-GoT blues

With those withdrawal symptoms kicking in, all you need is a good rebound show.

Hangovers tend to have a debilitating effect on various human faculties, but a timely cure can ease that hollow feeling generally felt in the pit of the stomach. The Game of Thrones Season 7 finale has left us with that similar empty feeling, worsened by an official statement on the 16-month-long wait to witness The Great War. That indeed is a long time away from our friends Dany, Jon, Queen C and even sweet, sweet Podrick. While nothing can quite replace the frosty thrill of Game of Thrones, here’s a list of awesome shows, several having won multiple Emmy awards, that are sure to vanquish those nasty withdrawal symptoms:

1. Billions

There is no better setting for high stakes white collar crime than the Big Apple. And featuring a suited-up Paul Giamatti going head-to-head with the rich and ruthless Damien Lewis in New York, what’s not to like? Only two seasons young, this ShowTime original series promises a wolf-of-wall-street style showcase of power, corruption and untold riches. Billions is a great high-octane drama option if you want to keep the momentum going post GoT.

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2. Westworld

What do you get when the makers of the Dark Knight Trilogy and the studio behind Game of Thrones collaborate to remake a Michael Crichton classic? Westworld brings together two worlds: an imagined future and the old American West, with cowboys, gun slingers - the works. This sci-fi series manages to hold on to a dark secret by wrapping it with the excitement and adventure of the wild west. Once the plot is unwrapped, the secret reveals itself as a genius interpretation of human nature and what it means to be human. Regardless of what headspace you’re in, this Emmy-nominated series will absorb you in its expansive and futuristic world. If you don’t find all of the above compelling enough, you may want to watch Westworld simply because George RR Martin himself recommends it! Westworld will return for season 2 in the spring of 2018.

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3. Big Little Lies

It’s a distinct possibility that your first impressions of this show, whether you form those from the trailer or opening sequence, will make you think this is just another sun-kissed and glossy Californian drama. Until, the dark theme of BLL descends like an eerie mist, that is. With the serious acting chops of Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman as leads, this murder mystery is one of a kind. Adapted from author Liane Moriarty’s book, this female-led show has received accolades for shattering the one-dimensional portrayal of women on TV. Despite the stellar star cast, this Emmy-nominated show wasn’t easy to make. You should watch Big Little Lies if only for Reese Witherspoon’s long struggle to get it off the ground.

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4. The Night of

The Night Of is one of the few crime dramas featuring South Asians without resorting to tired stereotypes. It’s the kind of show that will keep you in its grip with its mysterious plotline, have you rooting for its characters and leave you devastated and furious. While the narrative revolves around a murder and the mystery that surrounds it, its undertones raises questions on racial, class and courtroom politics. If you’re a fan of True Detective or Law & Order and are looking for something serious and thoughtful, look no further than this series of critical acclaim.

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5. American Horror Story

As the name suggests, AHS is a horror anthology for those who can stomach some gore and more. In its 6 seasons, the show has covered a wide range of horror settings like a murder house, freak shows, asylums etc. and the latest season is set to explore cults. Fans of Sarah Paulson and Jessica Lange are in for a treat, as are Lady Gaga’s fans. If you pride yourself on not being weak of the heart, give American Horror Story a try.

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6. Empire

At its heart, Empire is a simple show about a family business. It just so happens that this family business is a bit different from the sort you are probably accustomed to, because this business entails running a record label, managing artistes and when push comes to shove, dealing with rivals in a permanent sort of manner. Empire treads some unique ground as a fairly violent show that also happens to be a musical. Lead actors Taraji P Henson and Terrence Howard certainly make it worth your while to visit this universe, but it’s the constantly evolving interpersonal relations and bevy of cameo appearances that’ll make you stay. If you’re a fan of hip hop, you’ll enjoy a peek into the world that makes it happen. Hey, even if you aren’t one, you might just grow fond of rap and hip hop.

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7. Modern Family

When everything else fails, it’s comforting to know that the family will always be there to lift your spirits and keep you chuckling. And by the family we mean the Dunphys, Pritchetts and Tuckers, obviously. Modern Family portrays the hues of familial bonds with an honesty that most family shows would gloss over. Eight seasons in, the show’s characters like Gloria and Phil Dunphy have taken on legendary proportions in their fans’ minds as they navigate their relationships with relentless bumbling humour. If you’re tired of irritating one-liners or shows that try too hard, a Modern Family marathon is in order. This multiple-Emmy-winning sitcom is worth revisiting, especially since the brand new season 9 premiers on 28th September 2017.

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8. The Deuce

Headlined by James Franco and Maggi Gyllenhaal, The Deuce is not just about the dazzle of the 1970s, with the hippest New York crowd dancing to disco in gloriously flamboyant outfits. What it IS about is the city’s nooks and crannies that contain its underbelly thriving on a drug epidemic. The series portrays the harsh reality of New York city in the 70s following the legalisation of the porn industry intertwined with the turbulence caused by mob violence. You’ll be hooked if you are a fan of The Wire and American Hustle, but keep in mind it’s grimmer and grittier. The Deuce offers a turbulent ride which will leave you wanting more.

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9. Dexter

In case you’re feeling vengeful, you can always get the spite out of your system vicariously by watching Dexter, our favourite serial killer. This vigilante killer doesn’t hide behind a mask or a costume, but sneaks around like a criminal, targeting the bad guys that have slipped through the justice system. From its premier in 2006 to its series finale in 2013, the Emmy-nominated Michael C Hall, as Dexter, has kept fans in awe of the scientific precision in which he conducts his kills. For those who haven’t seen the show, the opening credits give an accurate glimpse of how captivating the next 45 minutes will be. If it’s been a while since you watched in awe as the opening credits rolled, maybe you should revisit the world’s most loved psychopath for nostalgia’s sake.

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10. Rome

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For your next obsession, Hotstar Premium has you covered with its wide collection of the most watched shows in the world. Apart from the ones we’ve recommended, Indian viewers can now easily watch other universally loved shows such as Silicon Valley and Prison Break, and movies including all titles from the Marvel and Disney universe. So take control of your life again post the Game of Thrones gloom and sign up for the Hotstar Premium membership here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Hotstar and not by the Scroll editorial team.