29 March 2013

Movie Review: "Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior"

Rated: TV-PG (US); PG: "Not Recommended for Young Children, Violence" (Canada)
Starring: Brenda Song, Shin Koyamoda, and Ellen Woglom
Released: June 16, 2006 (Disney Channel Premiere); October 24, 2006 (DVD)
Synopsis: Wendy Wu is very excited; she knows she is a shoo-in for Homecoming Queen.  Out of nowhere, a guy claiming to be a Chinese monk named Shen arrives at her doorstep, and he believes her to be the Yin warrior, who will defeat the evil Yan Lo.  Wendy doesn't believe him, but Shen keeps following her around, weirding her and everyone else out.  Will Shen jeopardize her chances at becoming Homecoming Queen? Will Wendy be able to defeat Yan Lo?

WARNING! Possible spoilers below!

Story: 4/5
Disney Channel's telefilms usually have engaging yarns, and this one is no exception.  Though the plot is slightly contrived--how many times have we seen a movie where the entire planet is doomed if the hero/heroine fails?--the film makes it work.

Production Values: 5/5
The film really shines here.  The actors/actresses are all great, especially Brenda Song, whose character here is a far cry from the ditzy heiress she played on Suite Life.  When it comes to special effects, the film is good in that department, though they are nothing extraordinary.  Where the film rules are the fight scenes, which were amazingly choreographed and kept me glued to the screen.

Moral Content: 3.75/5
If I were the MPAA, I would rate this movie "PG for action violence and scary scenes."  In fact, I think that a more accurate TV rating would be "TV-Y7-FV"; that is, not for kids under the age of seven because of fantasy violence.  As is typical of kung fu films, there are plenty of hand-to-hand combat scenes, and it gets really intense towards the end.  Also, the main villain, Yan Lo, possesses various people and even Wendy's dog throughout the film, which might scare some kids.  Parents of young children might want to screen this before letting their kids watch it, though I doubt anyone over ten would be bothered by it.

Conclusion: Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior brings to mind everything from the old NES game Double Dragon to Saturday morning shows ranging from Jackie Chan Adventures to Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers.  It's actually a well-made, zany action/fantasy/comedy that proved to be quite entertaining; unfortunately, due to its age and little-known status, a DVD of this movie may prove to be hard to find.  If you see this film for rent anywhere, or even for sale at a cheap price, it would probably be worth it to pick up; I had to make a special request from my local library to get it.  I don't know that I would watch it again, but it made for ninety-one minutes well-spent.

Score: 4.25/5

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