“Virtue be yours!”
There are several reasons I wanted to do a Ronny Yu retrospective, and coming in at around #3 (but maybe it should be higher) is the existence of this, his first American production, which is (to date) his only movie about kung fu kangaroos. WARRIORS OF VIRTUE is a crazy fuckin PG-rated family action adventure fantasy that mixes some of the elegant imagery and mythology of Yu’s previous work with a bizarre mix of NEVERENDING STORY and TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES. It could be argued to be Yu’s worst movie, or his most unusual one. It’s totally derivative, yet there’s absolutely nothing like it. It’s hard to imagine it happening in any year besides 1997, and also it’s hard to imagine it happening in 1997. But it happened. I was there.
I mean I wasn’t in the magical world of Tao where it takes place, or on the soundstage in Beijing where it was filmed, but as a BRIDE WITH WHITE HAIR devotee at the time I did pay to see WARRIORS in the theater, and I’ve been fascinated by it ever since.
It’s the story of ordinary American kid Ryan Jeffers (Mario Yedidia, JACK), and it’s one of those depictions of youth that seems like it was concocted by a 150 year old who lives in a containment unit on Mars but has read some old magazine articles and thinks he has a pretty good idea what life must be like for the kids these days. To this guy it makes sense to open the movie with a dog dropping toast through a window to Ryan as he excitedly reads a stack of comic books in the bathroom. (read the rest of this shit…)