10 Years: “Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior”

Whoever said it was a good idea to revisit movie’s from your childhood, as if you could ever get back into the same mindset again, should stop suggesting things like that. It’s a terrible, terrible idea, and yet, here we are again. I clearly haven’t learned from the last few times I did this, so now you must suffer. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

The Disney-ABC Domestic Television movie “Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior”, is by far one of the most obnoxious Disney Channel Original Movies (DCOM) I’ve now had the misfortune of watching again.

This action comedy stars Brenda Song (upcoming series “Pure Genius”, “Life in Pieces”), Shin Koyamada (“The Yokai King”, “Heart of the Dragon (Short 2013)”), Susan Chuang (“Shameless (US TV series)”, “Chasing Life”), Justin Chon (upcoming “Satanic”, “Man Up”), Michael David Cheng (“SF Stories”, “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles”), Andy Fischer-Price (“Modern Family”, “Monsters University”), Ellen Woglom (“Castle”, “Chicago P.D.”), and Tsai Chin (“Now You See Me 2”, “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”).

The movie was directed by John Laing (“Abandoned”, “Venus and Mars”) and written by Vince Cheung (“Baby Daddy”, “The Wizards Return: Alex vs. Alex”), Ben Montanio (“Baby Daddy”, “The Wizards Return: Alex vs. Alex”), B. Mark Seabrooks (“Let’s Stay Together”, “Cuts”), and Lydia Look (“The Proud Family”, “The Sentinel”).

The movie originally aired on June 16, 2006 on Disney Channel.

What a coincidence this was, and one I’m regretting! When I decided to watch this, it was purely for the fact that Disney Channel was celebrating the 100th DCOM, which still hasn’t aired, and was airing 51 of its highest rated DCOM’s that came before. This was early in the lineup, but then I discovered that it had a birthday coming up! Normally a happy time, but after watching this TV movie, I started to regret and rethink my reasons for watching this. I seriously doubt this is going to be a thought that goes away any time soon, and I still have so many more to watch and write about. That being said, I am interested in finding out if there are any that don’t annoy me completely, and make me think fondly of a film from my childhood.

Since this isn’t one of those movies, let’s just dive right in. There’s only so much more time I can stand dealing with this 10 year old children’s TV movie. And yes, I must say, not making you suffer too much is something I’m keeping in mind.

I will say that I was a little bit excited about revisiting this film. It’s got Song in the starring role, and it’s been ages (since I was a kid really) since I saw her in anything, regardless of whether or not it was good. I can’t say I was expecting something amazing, but I wasn’t expecting to want to join the bad guy in trying to kill her. She was that annoying. Song’s Wendy Wu was even more annoying than Buffy ever was, and that’s saying something. Granted, this annoyance was rooted in a cliché representation of high school girls, which may or may not be true, but it still wasn’t different from any of the other movies that involve teenage girls and high school. Because of this, finding anything to truly call likable was pretty damn difficult. She did have her moments, which is great, as they also served as small lessons on not being selfish, but as I’m not the target audience, I couldn’t give two shits. So, seeing as there was nothing going on with her to keep my interest, other than finding out if she wins in the end or not (she does, duh), I’m not sure how it was that I even got through the whole movie. If I recall correctly, it took me several days to finish. I wish I could say it was solely because I had other things going on, but it wasn’t. I just couldn’t bring myself to press resume.

As far as the other characters are concerned, well, they’re your typical supporting players. They serve no purpose other than to further the plot along in some way, or just be there to fill in some aspect of the main character’s history. What better way is there to get to know a character than through her family and friends? While I obviously find these characters uninteresting in every way possible, I can’t deny that they didn’t have some pretty enjoyable moments. Too bad they weren’t enough to outweigh the rest of the boredom that would come and the irritating whining from Song’s character.

With so many characters in this film, you’d think one would be interesting. None were, even when it came to training Song, which took about half the movie to convince her it was necessary. Before Koyamada was able to begin even a little bit of training, he spent a good long time teaching children that it was acceptable to stalk people. His stalking habits got so bad, that he went so far as to hang around the high school and annoy Song and her friends, yet nary a teacher or administrator was around to ever wonder who he was or why he was there. If you find stalking okay, then sure, Koyamada was interesting.

Fortunately there’s all that training to get back to. It’s a movie that includes “Homecoming Warrior” in the title, so you’d better believe there’s some action! I’d say if you’re under 10 years old, you may love the action sequences, including a slightly amusing montage of Song training with various martial arts masters. For me, which only makes me wonder what the hell I was thinking then and now, I hated the sequences. I think most of the actors did the martial arts work, which seems heavily choreographed at times, but I’m not sure. It looked like they did most of it, or could’ve done most of it. Even so, none of it was truly inspired. I guess it doesn’t help either that it came off as too fake looking, as there were clearly a lot of wires involved. It was fun for a moment, especially towards the beginning of the movie, but as it all just kept going on and on, I found myself less enthused than I was before. At some point even the action bored me and I just wanted it all to be over.

Sadly, it couldn’t end too soon. In between the training, all for the predictable ending, lame humorous moments, complete with jokes that weren’t funny and probably weren’t the first time, there were several groan inducing plot devices going on. The Chinese government is sending ancient artifacts to some no name museum that nobody’s probably ever visited, in some town no ones ever heard of or visited? Yeah, no. I don’t buy it. I do believe I literally groaned at this. Oh, and Song’s character was whining about something else. It’s all she did really, except when she was busy trying to win the title of homecoming queen, which was more a forgone predictable conclusion and made me want to ram my head through the nearest wall, or at least bang it several times on the coffee table. I’m not sure why any of this truly surprised me. It’s how most children’s movies are, even the big theatrical ones. To some extent there’s predictability in all of them, but it’s the middle stuff that should at least be interesting enough, that that the level of predictability shouldn’t matter.

Children’s movies, it seems, should be enjoyed by children. You could revisit for the sake of your childhood, or call it nostalgia, but let’s face it, why bother? You’re just going to be disappointed. As with other aging and older movies, they don’t always live up to what we first saw. Some can only be enjoyed once, and hopefully the experience was really good as the memory is all you’ll have to hold on to. Well, it will be if you choose not to revisit an old childhood favorite. But seeing as we’re all about nostalgia these days, and reboots and remakes, avoiding childhood favorites doesn’t look like a thing any of us will ever be successful at.


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