Ryan Jeffers just wants to be accepted by his peers, but is constantly insulted and bullied, with the school's quarterback Brad
leading the charge... all because he wears a metal splint on his leg. To cope, he enjoys reading martial arts comics and Chinese mythology. Shortly after his friend Ming gives him a book called the Manuscript of Tao
, Ryan attempts to prove himself to Brad and his gang, and ends up transported to another world — the world of Tao.
Good news is that he can walk there. Bad news... Tao is on the brink of destruction at the hands of the insane Komodo, who's been tapping into the mystical Lifesprings
to gain eternal life. In fact, there's only one Lifespring left, serving as the last bastion against his evil reign, and protected by five warriors able to wield the forces of Nature
: the Warriors of Virtue.
...Oh, and did we mention the five warriors are all anthropomorphic kangaroos?
Despite that little detail, 1997's Warriors of Virtue
takes itself very seriously, a strait-laced, by-the-book martial arts film for kids directed by Ronny Yu (his first English-language film). As its title suggests, it's very heavy
on the importance of virtue, particularly when it comes to the value of life: the Warriors do not kill
, which leads to the obvious question of how to deal with Komodo...
A series of five books were released afterward as a set of sequels: each volume followed one of the Roos as they split up (accompanied by a Tagalong Kid
) to solve a problem facing each Warrior's homeland.
A film sequel titled Warriors of Virtue: The Return to Tao
was released in 2002.
This film provides examples of:
- All Your Powers Combined: It's how they defeat Komodo for good.
- Antagonist in Mourning: Komodo mourns Elysia's death. This is supposed to indicate that Komodo was truly in love with her.
- Anti-Villain: While Elysia was consuming the Life Springs and worked with Komodo to defeat the Warriors, she was concerned about Ryan and protecting him from any and all kinds of danger and wanted to avenge her brother's accidental death.
- Avoid the Dreaded G Rating: "Shit happens."
- Not to mention Elysia's low-cut dresses later in the movie.
- Award Bait Song: Inside of You by Richie Havens, followed by You Can Fly by Wade Hubbard.
- Big "NO!": Elysia, when Komodo decides that Ryan is no longer useful.
- Big Sister Instinct: Elysia for Ryan. At one point, she states that Ryan is similar to her brother. She gets killed because she protected him from Komodo.
- Black Best Friend: He tells Ryan how important he is and what he should do and he gets left behind in the Real World.
- Blank Book: Ryan is asked by Komodo to read from the magical Manuscript and tell him what it says. The Manuscript suddenly shows blank pages, to which the protagonist says "Shit happens." But writing appears in the last page of the book: "Five is one Positive Kung. To take a life, you lose a part of yourself."
- "Blind Idiot" Translation: The Polish version was entitled "Wirtualni wojownicy" - "Virtual warriors". Apparently the translator didn't know what 'virtue' was.
- Blood from the Mouth: After the fight, a couple of the Warriors have this.
- Boxing Kangaroo: The five Warriors.
- Camp Straight: Komodo. Dude's frilly and effeminate, but he very clearly has gotten with several of the hot women in this movie anyway.
- Elemental Powers
- Evil Is Hammy: Like you wouldn't believe.
- Excessive Evil Eyeshadow: Komodo.
- Face-Heel Turn: Elysia.
- Easily Forgiven: The Warriors of Virtue were surprisingly accepting when Komodo returned with a unexplained case of amnesia and a level in kindness. Despite the fact that he killed their master, almost killed them, then enslaved their world.
- Five-Man Band: The Warriors of Virtue.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Shit happens.
- Guyliner: Komodo wears it.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Ryan.
- Immortality Seeker: Komodo uses the Zubrium (the substance that powers the life spring) to retain his strength — and his youth. No wonder he's so desperate for it.
- Informed Ability: The warriors of virtue don't really exhibit the virtues they're supposed to be warriors of.
- Jerk Jock: Brad.
- Large Ham: Komodo.
- Also, Ming when he shows off while cooking.
- Laser-Guided Amnesia: Komodo loses his memory after he's converted to good by the Warriors.
- Laughably Evil: Hey look, another Komodo trope! BOOGA BOOGA BOOGA BOOGA!
- Laughing Mad: Kind of a subversion, because Komodo's laughing doesn't tell he goes insane...it tells that he IS insane. Seriously, you can never predict when he bursts to maniacal laughter.
- Like A Brother To Me: Ryan to Elysia. This is what gets her killed.
- Madonna–Whore Complex: When we first meet Elysia, she wears a white, high-necked dress. When she's revealed to be a traitor, she wears a red dress that shows cleavage.
- Magical Asian: Ming. We never find out why an ordinary cook has a manuscript about a magical universe. Also, Master Chung.
- Martial Arts and Crafts: Ming's cooking. Why is Ryan the main character again?
- Moral Dissonance: At the end of the movie, Ryan demonstrates his newfound virtue by leaving Brad stranded at the Treatment plant behind a torrent of water, leading the rest of Brad's 'friends' away while they mock the terrified jock. Uh...?
- Just so we're all clear on the above point, the Warriors forgave Komodo, the insane, self-obsessed warlord, and offered him a place in their community even though he tried to kill them all and callously destroyed their ecosystem. Whereas a mere jerky football player is unworthy of your sympathy.
- He says he's going to go call the police to get the jock out. What else would a sensible person do in that situation?
- No Indoor Voice: Take a wild guess...
- Noodle Incident: We know that Yun killed Elysia's brother. But we never learn anything else about it or the circumstances of it. It's possible that he was a civilian and he may have gotten caught in the crossfire of Yun and Komodo's minions' fight.
- Personality Powers: Most obvious with Chi, but all of the Roos show this.
- Redemption Equals Death: Elysia.
- Shout-Out: "Warriors! Come out and plaaaay!"
- The Speechless: Yee was so traumatized by the loss of his Lifespring that he stopped speaking, instead communicating with others through sign language. After Ryan's Heroic Sacrifice, he manages a hoarse "Thank you".
- Sissy Villain: Komodo never leaves home without his ruffles and frills.
- Take That: While describing the land of Tao to Ryan, Ming tells him there are "no guns, no lasers, no morphing...", a rather clear swipe at that other martial-arts-focused franchise involving guns, lasers, and morphing which was fairly popular at the time this film was released.
- This Is Unforgivable!: Elysia has never forgiven Yun for the death of her brother, even though it was an accident. She believes that it was still a life and also broke the Warriors' creed.
- Ryan also doesn't take kindly to traitors.
- Thou Shalt Not Kill: An integral part of the Warriors' Code. Results in a world-threatening war that has rages for years and apparently produced *one* casualty by the Warriors - of an innocent person. Since Komodo's forces were, presumably, not restricted by the Warriors' Code and could kill and enslave all they wanted, it's no wonder the good guys were on the ropes by the time Ryan showed up...
- Weapon of Choice: Yun and Tsun wield swords, Lai has a wooden staff, Chi uses fire whips, and Yee carries huge metal rings.
- Wok Fu: Ming is a chef, but he uses martial arts skills in his job. This actually does some good when another chef trips on a tomato; Ming manages to catch the guy using his leg, brings him up, and then proceeds to catch all the falling food.
- Woman in White: Elysia is like an angel while she's pretending to be good.
The film sequel contains examples of:
- Darker and Edgier: Dogon is not as hammy or sissy as Komodo was. However, he's also not as bloodthirsty since he wanted to leave Ryan to be consumed by his guilt and failure for the rest of eternity. Compared to Komodo, Dogon is a pretty serious villain for this franchise.
- In Name Only: For one thing, no kangaroos.
- Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Dogon decided that Ryan and his friends' punishment was to live in his shame and staying outside of the cells was more efficient than killing them off or locking them up. If only he knew how this would come back to hurt him later.
- Revenge of the Sequel
- Villainous Crush: Dogon and Amythis used to have a relationship prior to the movie.
- Would Hit a Girl: Dogon has no qualms about killing his former love.
- Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Subverted. Dogon settled to give Ryan and the other characters a Fate Worse Than Death.
The book sequels also contain examples of:
- Ascended Extra: The overarching plot is that Ryan is summoned back to Tao along with four of his friends so that each can accompany one of the Roos back to the Lifespring where they were born and fix the problems arising there. These friends were minor characters in the original movie (and Brad was included, so the definition of 'friend' was rather loose...). Unfortunately, Ming was not one of them.
- Bratty Half-Pint: Chi admits to being one in "Chi and the Giant", as well as a former Prankster who used trickery to get back at the others teasing him for being the youngest.
- Cat Scare: "Lai and the Headhunters".
- Heel-Face Turn: Brad, who winds up accompanying Yee for the biggest Odd Couple pairing of the books and develops from Jerk Ass to Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
- Moral Dissonance: In "Yun and the Sea Serpent", Yun deals with the beast by sewing its mouth shut, while it's awake, aware and thrashing in agony. True, he says that he leaves enough slack for it to eat plankton, and it was to correct the serpent's original dietary habits, but still...
- Swarm of Rats: Happens several times in "Tsun and the Rats".
- Tagalong Kid
- Wok Fu: A Chinese chef is constantly doing Wok Fu when he's cooking (doing spins, kicking faucets). Actually does some good when another chef trips; Wok Fu Chef manages to catch the guy using his leg, brings him up, and then proceeds to catch all the falling food.