Rarely do I ever use the label “guilty pleasure.” If I enjoy something, I take pride in it. No matter how bad or silly it is. A great example of this would be the monumental Ronny Yu fantasy adventure flop Warriors of Virtue.
Obviously it’s dumb. Without a doubt it is unoriginal, cliche, and poorly executed. Some bozo critic named Kale Klein claimed to have been so bothered during a screening he actually puked. I agree with Richard Roeper that it is a “cheap hybrid of Power Rangers and Ninja Turtles.”
Yet to my 12-year-old self, it was wonderful.
Not many people recall that the late ‘90s were a pretty dry time as far as kid-centric fantasy adventure films went. Sure there were the Special Editions of Star Wars earlier in the year (say what you will, that was my first time seeing them in the theater and my mind was very much blown) and Men In Black and The Lost World: Jurassic Park were also released. Kids could go see all of these and enjoy (and I did), but they were more aimed at the whole family. Not many studios produced work that explicitly said, “Here pre-teens and younger, this is only for you.”
So when I saw a story about an outsider kid, roughly my age, getting sucked down into a world of fantasy, with cool karate savvy Kangaroos, (and lots of trees whose leaves constantly seem to be blowing away) I was immediately sold.
The ‘80s had lots of things featuring kids getting caught up in adventures. And with the Harry Potter craze, the premise has been especially popular lately. This just wasn’t so in ’97. I was always bothered by that.
I loved (and still do wholeheartedly) those stories. They are pure imaginary fun. The themes are uncomplicated and there is not a shred of cynicism. Even if being made to cash in on a current trend (Power Rangers) it didn’t matter because, for me, they were utter wish fulfillment.
That is how I feel about Warriors of Virtue to this day. Nostalgia blinders have obscured my vision but I couldn’t care less. I am proud of my love for it. I imagine Twilight fans are the same way. Everyone (including myself) can pinpoint each and every horrendous blemish on their beloved franchise and it wouldn’t make a difference. Twilight isn’t for us. It’s for them.
Having said all that, I do have the occasional “guilty pleasure” experience. Categorizing this is tough. Never have I felt “guilty” for being entertained by something. However, there have been more than a few times that I’ve simply decided not to mention that not only have I watched certain things, but enjoyed them to boot. Basically ending up with me asking the question, “Do I really want to have that conversation?” If the answer is no, then it becomes the closest thing I have to a guilty pleasure.
After seeing Warriors of Virtue, I wanted more. I wanted it to blow up like the other franchises it was ripping off. I even got one of the action figures.
As the years past, I gave up hope. My friend and I were probably the only people who even liked the movie. One day I was feeling depressingly nostalgic (this happens a lot) and I started watching clips of the movie online, reminding me of how much I enjoyed it. Sadly, my VHS copy had gone the way of the VCR (meaning, I’m sure it was around, I just didn’t feel like looking for it) and had to settle with what was available on youtube.
Then a came across something I never thought I’d see. Something I’d given up on a long time ago. A sequel! Warriors of Virtue 2: Return to Tao.
I was convinced it was fake. Based on all the comments I’d found online, it looked like I was right about my friend and I being the only ones who liked the original. There was no way enough of an audience existed to justify even a direct to DVD sequel. Research proved its legitimacy and, if this is possible, people hated it even more than the first. Honestly my interest in it fizzled pretty quickly. Warriors of Virtue something special that has ceased being a film and transcended into a cherished moment of time. What good would a sequel do me?
Well, for no real reason whatsoever I decided to watch it.
What did I think?
I’m not positive I want to get into that conversation.
Virtue be yours.