Disney // 2008 // 135 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Christopher Kulik (Retired) // January 8th, 2009
We are the vision of your dreams. We don't exist, yet we have been here since the beginning. We are the Pai Zhua, Order of the Claw. We train only the best, both physically and mentally.
When the then-Mighty Morphin Power Rangers debuted in the mid-90s, I was already beyond the juvenile ninja genre. I had already exhausted myself with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and a little 1993 film called Surf Ninjas...not to mention being a fan of the more-mature Karate Kid franchise. Hell, I was already watching Bruce Lee flicks when six tweens became karate heroes (all identified by different colors just so the audience doesn't get confused) on the small screen. So, my mission going into Power Rangers Jungle Fury, the show's 16th season, is to see if I would have enjoyed this as a kid, as viewing as an adult would no doubt be an ordeal.
Somewhere along the way, the number of Rangers had decreased from six to three. There's "oh-so-cute" Casey (Jason Smith), the red tiger ranger who is seriously behind in his training. Next is Lily (Anna Hutchison), the yellow cheetah ranger with a sarcastic sense of humor, and finally, there's Theo (Aljin Abella), the blue wolf ranger who is committed to the Pai Zhua, the Order of the Claw. Their elderly master is Mao, who has chosen these three as the order's protectors of the Dai Shai, an animal spirit-of-sorts who is locked away in a box. However, when a student with an attitude inadvertently let the spirit loose and murder Mao, the Rangers are forced to take action.
Along the way, Dai Shi hooks up with the curvy Camille (Holly Shanahan), an evil babe who has a host of minions to assist him. As for our heroes, they find a new master in RJ, the owner of a colorful pizza parlor...who supplies them with some shades so they can morph into the Rangers and take on Dai Shi. A never-ending series of battles follows, mostly outside the pizza parlor and in the woods. The first half of the Jungle Fury season is presented by Disney, with six episodes: "Welcome to the Jungle (Parts I & II)," "Sign of the Tiger," "A Taste of Poison," "Can't Win Them All," and "Dance the Night Away."
With all the chopsocky mayhem on display, I see how kids can get a kick (pun intended) out of this harmless nonsense. Unfortunately, this show doesn't have anything redeeming about it which parents could appreciate. The supposed messages on teamwork and Claw-commitment are heavy-handed at best and the show's sense of humor is questionable at times. For example, in the first episode all the kids seemed to have been meditating for an entire night and when Lily stands up she asks Theo, "Did my butt come up with me?" Ahhh, innocent flirtation taken to perverted extremes...this is one of the elements included by Bruce Kalish, the show's primary writer. What's really ludicrous and lame is this notion of the Rangers having animal spirits which act like power boosts to defeat their enemies.
Kids should be able lap all this up with anticipation. As for me, I can't help but look at this as a marginal clone of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, complete with multiple instances of the trio eating pizza (no doubt supplied by catering on a daily basis). What's also annoying is Theo imitating the noises emanated 35 years before by Bruce Lee in Enter the Dragon. Even the constant fighting gets monotonous and boring after awhile. Still, I'll give the three leads credit for their endless enthusiasm. And, I have to admit that Australian Shanahan provides a generous amount of eye candy, with her cleavage on (suspicious?) display much of the time. Otherwise, this recommended for young fans of the show...and that's saying if the parents really want to go the extra mile and pick up this bare-bones DVD.
Presented in 1.33:1 full frame, the picture has bright colors, though it also suffers from a CGI overdose. The audio is in DD 2.0 Stereo, which is satisfactory, and subtitles are provided in English. No extras, despite the fact the second half of the season (Power Rangers Jungle Fury: Way Of The Master) provided some trading cards. The only thing you get is a mail-in rebate for a Red Ranger action figure. If you ask me, splitting the season in two DVDs is cheap on Disney's part, as they want to make as much moola as they can of this franchise.
Ladies and gentleman, this is as negligible as kids' programming can get,
with all the noise and obnoxious ingredients (read: food fights) one can expect.
Guilty all the way!
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Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 135 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated