An unassuming San Francisco chef becomes the latest in a long line of supernatural-aided protectors in Netflix’s “Wu Assassins.” The kung fu meets sci-fi series boasts a cinematic feel that DP John Bartley, ASC enlisted Encore Senior Colorist Thor Roos to help build, with the two keen to maintain a natural aesthetic throughout to provide contrast and drama for scenes where ancient warrior powers appear.
Story location also played a large role in determining looks. Thor explained, “We really wanted the audience to feel authentically immersed in San Francisco’s Chinatown, even though it was shot in Vancouver, so we developed a LUT early on that highlighted the area’s gold and yellow hues. Also, John used anamorphic lenses with fantastic fall out to further enhance the show’s filmic quality.”
Additional environments highlighted in “Wu Assassins” include Path – a world inhabited by ancient warriors, and historic Scotland shown in flashbacks to reveal a character’s origin story. To clearly differentiate these settings from Chinatown, the DP and Showrunner John Wirth gave Path an alternate dimension feel. Using that guidance, Thor helped create a mythical dreamlike world, further contrasted from Chinatown through heavy use of primary colors.
In addition to refining the look of the series, Thor was entrusted with ensuring the star of “Wu Assassins,” Iko Uwais, remained clearly visibly throughout action-packed martial arts sequences. He said, “Iko is an amazing talent and his movements were so fast at times that we had to isolate his hands and feet separately. The opening fight scene of episode one really sets the tone and energy for the series, and I’m quite proud of how we were able to successfully establish our Chinatown look in hotel hallway at night. That wasn’t easy.”
“Wu Assassins” began streaming on Netflix August 8, 2019. For more info, visit: https://www.netflix.com/title/80230293