“Into every third generation, a slay..ah, warrior is born.”
It’s kinda sad to say, but the action in this Disney TV movie kicks the ass of, not only most TV shows, but a credible number of Hollywood films. Then again, behind the fights here is Koichi Sakamoto, who is also responsible for Drive, among the best American martial-arts films of all time. And while obviously “Disneyfied”, this is still sprightly and engaging, with a couple of very decent fight sequences. It is, however, extremely influenced by Buffy: an unwilling heroine (Song) destined to face down evil on the night of a major school event, under the care and tuition of a mysterious guardian? Joss Whedon should have a word with his lawyers. However, the Chinese cultural twist is nice, not least the Shaolin Soccer riffs, though neither lead actually is Chinese.
This does pose problems, the film trying hard to be culturally “sensitive”; Wendy struggles between wanting to be a “normal” American girl, and her Chinese heritage. This is clunkily handled and does drag the middle of the film down, as the whole Homecoming Queen plot-thread is simply not very interesting, and adds nothing of significance to the film. Things do perk up again, when her teachers get taken over by monk spirits, to assist with her training. It then heads to the finale in a deserted museum where Wendy and her “watcher”, Shen (Koyamada), must face an possessed-schoolmate and a host of terracotta warriors. I stumbled on this by accident, in an advert break during a baseball game on a neighbouring channel, and enjoyed it, despite being about three times the target audience’s age. Some more action would certainly have been preferred, but between this and Kim Possible, Disney have as good a claim to being the home of action heroine TV as any channel.
Dir: John Laing
Stars: Brenda Song, Shin Koyamada, Justin Chon, Andy Fischer-Price