Forgotten Action Cinema: Warriors of Virtue

What sort of motion picture does director Ronny Yu decide to pursue after delivering his action classic “The Bride with the White Hair”? One centered around a band of deadly kung fu kangaroos, of course! “Warriors of Virtue” took quite the critical lashing when it arrived in theaters way back in 1997, and it’s easy to understand why. The film, a Chinese-American actioner that suffers from some seriously wonky acting, is one seriously jagged pill to swallow if you don’t have the stomach for cheesy family-oriented cinema. The story follows the adventures of a Ryan, a wimpy high school student whose physical disability prevents him from joining the football team. Like most cinematic athletes with access to crippled kids, the guys on the squad are quick to give him crap, going as far as to trick the poor kid into a particularly hazardous hazing ritual that sends him spiraling into another dimension. It’s here that Ryan discovers the titular Warriors of Virtue, a band of marital arts masters who also happen to be walking, talking kangaroos. Together the team will face the evil Komodo (Angus Macfadyen), a villain who seems hellbent on destroying the ‘roos. If you’re at all familiar with Yu’s style, then “Warriors of Virtue” and its bizarre action set pieces shouldn’t come as an enormous surprise. The use of slow motion does get a little old, as it’s incorporated into nearly every fight sequence in the film. By the end of the film. lessons are learned, dwarves are insulted, and our disabled hero earns some new friends. Sadly, the film is only available in the US in full screen format, which means you should expect lots of pan-and-scan tomfoolery. A sequel was crafted in 2002, a film I’m currently in the process of tracking down. If family-friendly kung fu is your thing, take a chance on “Warriors of Virtue”. Don’t be surprised if you love it to death.