ADVENTURES OF JOHNNY TAO
Reviewed by: JimmyO
What's it about
There is an ancient evil about to surface, one that can make your average Joe turn into a mindless zombie serving his dark master. To stop the baddies, it is up to the son of a one hit wonder, rockiní roller, and a young girl trained to protect the world from this donut-loving demon.
Is it good movie?
I have a confession to make. After watching the teaser trailer for Adventures of Johnny Tao, the last thing in the world I expected was to enjoy it. But here I am, about to write a positive review for what is essentially a cheesy kidís flick. But the truth is, if I were a kid I would have had a blast with Johnny. Maybe it is the lively music featured throughout by ďChaz & the MotorbikesĒ. Or it could have something to do with a mostly likeable cast including Matthew Twining as the ďunlikelyĒ hero Johnny Dow. But for some reason, I had a good time watching this ninja flick that includes zombies with a taste for donuts. Trust me, Iím surprised that the film even got a PG-13 rating, except for the local DJ that calls himself Big Dick (you can almost hear the writers laughing their ass off every single time they write that characters name). But even with Master Big Dick, this is a darn safe feature. Letís crack open a root beer shall we?
It all begins 900 years ago. Two ninjas are fighting for some sword. One of them seems to be possessed by an evil force. I guess if someone has creepy glowing eyes, you should avoid them. But the evil is destroyed, and a magical power is passed down to another generation. It is a family that has sworn to protect the world from a dark and mysterious baddie who turns people into donut craving undead. Is this great cinema? Hell no. But I did find it sort of refreshing to see an adventure film that is made for a younger crowd, but didnít feel terribly condescending to its viewing audience. It seems that kids flicks tend to insult their viewers by offering up too cute and too obvious situations. But Johnny Tao has the ability to balance between violence and something that is accessible to those looking for something not quite as intense as say, The Dark Knight or even The Mummy franchise.
In many ways, Johnny Tao had elements of Big Trouble in Little China or even something like Spy Kids. While there are definitely things that are a bit hard to swallow, it is after all an adventure flick. But director Kenn Scott has fun with the genre-bending flick. It is never really scary, but it is not boring either. I had good times with the fight sequences even though Kill Bill this ainít. It is funny that early on in the film, when Johnny has to go kung fu on his enemies, he always seems to be wearing something to cover his face. Whether it is a gorilla suit or a football helmet, it seems that it made for an easy way to use a stunt man. But in the end, it is Johnny minus the face cover, although Iím guessing not minus the stunt man. I will say that Matthew Twining is really good here. I liked him a lot. He had the all-American thing going on, yet he actually gave a pretty credible show given what the script allowed.
Yes I enjoyed The Adventures of Johnny Tao, but there are quite a few problems with it. I felt some of the editing seemed a bit choppy in parts, especially during the fight sequences. I also felt that the bad guys were just kind of silly and I didnít care either way about any of them. Yet I donít think that is the point. This is a kid friendly action flick that plays with the rules but doesnít go too far to break them. It is an independent film that is basically a movie you can take your children (or little brother or sister) to, and at least have a little fun. And again, just think back to when you were a kid as to how much fun you would have had karate chopping each other after a cool ninja/zombie/donut flick.
Video / Audio
A big reason that Adventures of Johnny Tao works is a very likeable performance from Matthew Twining. The role doesnít really require much, and it seems like he shouldíve been a bit goofier looking, but I liked him quite a bit in the role of Johnny. Itís a very charismatic performance. And for the most part, this is a competently acted and directed kidís flick with zombies and ninjas. The undead are not feasting out on people, they seem to like donuts much better, but at least they are zombies of some sort. And that is cool if you are like ten or eleven. I for one would of loved to have this baby back when I was a kid. Not a perfect movie, but certainly one that you might even enjoy if you are in the mood for a ďniceĒ genre-bending hour and a half. And for all you Jason London fans, he makes a cameo appearance as Johnnyís rockiní and rolliní dad. Johnny Tao is a bunch of fun and silly nonsense for the whole family that has the good sense to add a funny dick joke.