Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior (2006)

Genres - Children's/Family  |   Sub-Genres - Martial Arts, Teen Movie  |   Release Date - Jun 16, 2006 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 105 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

While no one will ever confuse Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior with a genuine Hong Kong action flick, this Disney Channel movie does provide some surprisingly effective martial arts sequences. Again, one has to look at this in the proper context -- meaning that the kicks, the slow motion, the slicing are not going to have the same visceral impact as the "real thing," if for no other reason than the fact that this would alienate the target audience of teen-aged (or thereabouts) girls. But within this limitation, these sequences are very good and provide some genuine excitement and thrills. This is especially fortunate because the rest of the film is mired in Disney Channel formulaics about the importance of family and heritage and learning both what is important and how to be true to oneself. These are good and worthy messages, but they're presented in such a by-the-numbers manner that older viewers can't help but wince, even as the younger ones gobble it up without a question. Wu is also fortunate in its leading player, Brenda Song, who is a charming and appealing personality, even when playing a shallow airhead -- and who did far more of her own stunts (and quite believably) than one would imagine. Shin Koyamada does not win any acting awards, but his physical performance is quite impressive. Its target audience will love Wu, and the action sequences should keep older viewers entertained.