Guest Author - Caroline Chen-Whatley
For those that have followed this column for awhile, you will know that I often enjoy finding examples of Martial Arts in different media and parts of our daily lives. I happened to be browsing the Disney Channel with my daughter when I caught an ad for a new TV show, "Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior."
"Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior" is about a young girl who discovers she’s the reincarnation of a Chinese warrior that must save the world. As the popular girl in school, though, her only concern is winning the title of homecoming queen. The show looks to have a high degree of wire work, flying acrobatics, and comedy as Wendy Wu comes to terms with her dual identity.
Those who watch the Disney channel will find it comforting to see a familiar face in the lead role, Brenda Song. Ms. Song has stared in many popular children’s sitcoms and movies, including her current role as London in "The Suite Life of Zack & Cody." What is most encouraging to me is that Ms. Song is actually a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, which is often rare to see in female Martial Arts movie stars. More often than not, females who carry Martial Arts roles are trained how to perform the "show" but lack actually training themselves.
Disney itself is no stranger to Martial Arts. Most folks are at least somewhat familiar with the 1998 release of Mulan, a legend about a female Chinese warrior who disguises herself as a man to save her family and father’s honor. In addition, Disney has a continuing cartoon series known as "American Dragon: Jake Long," where 13-year-old Jake is actually a dragon in disguise who must master his skills to protect the magical creatures in New York City.
The basis of "Wendy Wu" can present some compelling additions to the already strong diversity that Disney has shown; in particular, it will be nice to see a strong, modern female warrior. However, it will be curious to see how they balance this with the almost stereotypical female image of being more worried about her looks than real issues.
In many ways, this show is almost like the Martial Arts version of "Buffy: the Vampire Slayer," a modern day fantasy movie/TV show. A man appears to proclaim this female shall be the savior of the world and sets about starting to train her. There is conflict as the female fights between the world she knows (and the popularity she experiences there) and the isolation of being a "superhero."
Regardless of how the show does, I commend Disney for taking on this project and presenting a strongly Asian cast to star in the major roles. I look forward to seeing how this show unfolds.
The premiere episode will be aired on Friday, June 16th on the Disney Channel.
The official website for the show can be found at the Disney Channel website.