June 16, 2006 – The Disney Channel Original Movie Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior Premieres
“Just because you don’t miss it, doesn’t mean it isn’t missing.”
On June 16, 2006, the Disney Channel Original Movie Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior premiered. The film garnered 5.7 million viewers on its premiere, making it the fifth highest viewed Disney Channel Original Movie, as well as breaking viewing records in Japan, the United Kingdom, and Europe. It was also the second Disney Channel Original Movie to be released on iTunes, and the first to air on the Disney owned ABC Family. The film overall received good reviews, with many praising lead actress Brenda Song as the title character. It was mostly filmed in Auckland, New Zealand, with excutive producer for the Power Rangers series Koichi Sakamoto acting as the action unit director; many actors that have been in the Power Rangers series were also featured in the film. The film was written by Vince Cheung, Ben Montanio, Lydia Look, and Mark Seabrooks. It was directed by John Laing, and stars Brenda Song as Wendy Wu, Shin Koyamada as Shen, Ellen Woglom as Jessica, and Tsai Chin as Grandma Wu.
The film begins in Mongolia, where soldiers are training in a courtyard. One soldier in particular named Shen is able to best all the others, when he is called forward to take on the task of defeating an ancient evil, and is sent to retrieve an ancient warrior in California. Meanwhile, Wendy Wu is sitting in class, not paying attention as usual, and dreams of being Homecoming Queen. She is competing against a girl named Jessica, and is angry that she may lose the crown. Little by little, Wendy is displaying fighting skills, which begins to frighten her. Shen arrives in California and begins his search.
Shen arrives at Wendy’s house and tries to tell her of her destiny as the yin warrior
Late that night, at the Civic Museum in Fair Springs, California, a mysterious package is delivered and taken to the archives where the artifacts for the Chinese exhibit are being held. The box glows ominously, killing a nearby flower. Shen, meanwhile, arrives at Wendy’s house, and when Wendy opens the door, she is scared by his proclamation that she is a warrior named Miaozhen, a warrior born in the Wei Dynasty, sworn to defeat evil. She begins to fight him, displaying her innate skills of being an ancient warrior, and manages to send him away. As this occurs, the item inside the strange box at the museum begins to cast a spell before it escapes, possessing a security guard. It recognizes Wendy from the picture on her mother’s desk, and possesses Wendy’s brother Peter when he comes to deliver a pizza. Shen, waiting outside Wendy’s house, spies Peter returning home, and senses an evil spirit within him. He infiltrates the house to protect her, fighting Peter while Wendy sleeps, oblivious. After Peter is defeated, the evil creature possesses the family dog instead.
The next morning, Wendy wakes up to discover a protective necklace around her neck, and removes it, thinking it to be a joke by her brother. Shen keeps a close watch on the house as everyone leaves for their day. He enters the house and finds Wendy’s grandmother holding the necklace, asking if Wendy is the warrior, and then asks him to protect her. Shen promises he will, then runs after her, demanding that she wear the necklace for protection and warns her that she is in danger. During a soccer match, Wendy once again shows her innate skills, while her dog enters the school, looking for her. The principal is soon possessed by the evil spirit. Shen finally catches up with Wendy and tries to explain everything. Wendy is rather rattled by what he says, and doesn’t wish to start training. He tells her friends that he is her cousin from China, and wishes to keep it a secret. Shen continues to guard her, whether she likes it or not, and Wendy’s grandmother makes sure Wendy wears the necklace, certain that her granddaughter will be a great warrior.
Wendy feels that her life is falling apart since Shen arrived
Shen arrives at the school the next day, preventing the principal from attacking Wendy, with the spirit soon possessing her history teacher, Mr. Medina. Meanwhile, Wendy’s nemesis Jessica has made it her mission to prevent Wendy from being Homecoming Queen, including disqualifying her from the nominations altogether. Dismayed, Wendy believes there is no way to pass her history class. Shen offers to help her with passing her history midterm on China, only if she wears the medallion. She finally agrees, just as Mr. Medina is about to attack Wendy. The spirit soon moved on to a janitor. Wendy and Shen begin to train, with Wendy not taking it as seriously as she should. She finally understands, and begins to meditate everywhere, even at school. She then passes the midterm with an A, and is able to focus her mind and begin her training, although she goes back to her homecoming campaign, leaving Shen dismayed.
Later, Wendy asks her grandmother if she misses China, and her grandmother responds that she does, recalling memories of the village where she grew up, including a story of a young female yin warrior named Miaozhen. She then reveals that her own mother was a yin warrior, and Wendy needs to accept the honor. The family then meets Shen, who pretends to be a distant relative of Wendy’s grandmother. He offers to help Wendy’s mother with her terracotta warrior exhibit, and she gratefully accepts. He then wins over the rest of the family, except for Wendy’s father, who suddenly gets moody. Wendy then takes Shen to the mall for her own kind of training: dressing Shen like an American teenager. Late that night, Wendy’s mom and dad talk, with Wendy’s dad feeling guilty that he’s turned his back on his Chinese heritage. The two decide to incorporate more of their Chinese heritage into their lives.
The two open up to each other, with Wendy dismayed to find that Shen must die in battle
Wendy soon discovers that she’s growing bored of her boyfriend Austin, and discovers she’s developing feelings for Shen. Shen warns Wendy that she will need to train harder than any of the past yin warriors to defeat the evil spirit, as it grows stronger and stronger each 90-year cycle. The two then discuss their lives, and Wendy admits that she doesn’t love her boyfriend, and is only with him because everyone says they look good together. As the two bond, Shen reveals that he will die during the battle, that it is his destiny to sacrifice himself to save Wendy, as it has been over the thousands of years he has been reincarnated. She is dismayed by this, but he has no regrets. Wendy then brings him to a party to act like a teenager, and is upset by the attention he gets, as she wants to spend time with him. She breaks up with Austin, and watches as Shen impresses everyone at the party. When a girl kisses him, however, she storms out of the party and tosses aside the medallion, unaware that her best friend Tory is now possessed by the evil spirit. She confesses everything to Tory, but Tory attempts to attack Wendy, until Shen steps in to save her. Tory is then knocked into the pool, and Shen and Wendy leave to continue training. The evil spirit then possesses Jessica through Jessica’s camera.
At training, Shen lets Wendy know they’ve reached the final part of her training, where she will be trained by five ancient masters: the tiger, the snake, the leopard, the crane, and the dragon. Shen reveals he is the dragon, which is the last lesson, and they begin training with the snake, who is Shen’s master from the temple. Wendy doesn’t feel comfortable beating up an old man, so Shen has the spirits of the ancient masters possess her teachers from school, starting with her gym teacher Coach Gibbs as the snake. Her principal becomes the leopard, teacher Mr. Tobias becomes the crane, and her history teacher Mr. Medina becomes the tiger. Wendy completes her lessons, and Shen informs her that she’s now become a yin warrior. Soon after, Wendy finds out that she’s been named Homecoming Queen, but thanks Shen sincerely for his help and invites him to homecoming as her date. He refuses, and she remembers that he has to die in battle, which will occur the next day during homecoming. She is upset that he didn’t tell her that it would occur during the homecoming event, and walks away from him.
Jessica, possessed, awakens the terracotta soldiers
Jessica, possessed by the evil spirit, brings the terracotta soldiers to life as its army. Wendy’s grandmother presents her with a fighting outfit, and is dismayed to find that Wendy is going to homecoming rather than battle evil. Shen goes to battle the evil spirit by himself, but doesn’t have enough strength to do it on his own. As she leaves for homecoming, the ancient masters arrive to take her to the fight, but she still refuses to go, until they tell her that Shen has gone on his own to fight. Wendy finally shows up with the masters and saves Shen before she fights Jessica. As she fights, her grandmother shows up and presents Wendy with her great-grandmother’s fighting robes, which Wendy quickly dons. The terracotta soldiers are soon destroyed by the masters, leaving Wendy alone with Jessica. The spirit soon leaves Jessica, but the battle isn’t over, as it creates a new form from the broken terracotta soldiers. Shen attempts to battle the evil spirit, as does Wendy, but he is too strong for either of them. Shen attempts to sacrifice himself, but Wendy refuses to let him die, using everything she’s learned to keep Shen alive. The two then fight together, defeating the evil spirit once and for all. As the legend ends, the masters reveal that this is Shen’s last life, and he can stay with Wendy, and the couple run off together.