tek's rating:

Xiaolin Showdown, on The WB
IMDb; TV Tropes; Wikia Wikipedia
streaming sites: Amazon; Google Play; iTunes; YouTube

Caution: spoilers.

This Saturday morning cartoon was fairly amusing, and also kinda cool. There are these four kids, "chosen ones," who are in training as Xiaolin "dragon warriors." Each represents a different elemental power which they call on when going into battle. They are Omi, who has this weird-looking round yellow head, and has trained all his life to be a Xiaolin dragon- his element is water; Kimiko, a Japanese rich girl, whose look totally changes when she's on a mission, for some reason- fire; Raimundo, a Brazilian circus star- air; and Clay, a Texan cowboy- earth. They're all trained by Master Fung. There's also a real dragon named Dojo, who's usually small, but occasionally grows much larger, and flies, to ferry the kids to a Shen Gong Wu whenever one is located.

Which is pretty much the point of the series, they're all looking for Shen Gong Wu, which are these ancient mystical artifacts of great power, each one does something different. Also searching for the Shen Gong Wu is an ancient Heylin witch named Wuya, who was defeated 1500 years ago by Grand Master Dashi, trapped in a puzzle box. At the start of the series she gets released, as a ghost. She teams up with Jack Spicer, an evil boy genius who builds robots in his basement and wants to take over the world. They are later joined for a few eps by a girl called Katnappe, kind of a junior Catwoman. Anyway, sometimes the good guys and bad guys will reach a Shen Gong Wu at the same time, at which point they have a showdown to determine who gets to keep it, at least for a while (and they each wager at least one Shen Gong Wu they already possess). One thing I like about this show is that the bad guys actually win once in a while.

At the end of the first season, Rai gets mad at his friends and betrays them, joining Wuya's side. He uses two Shen Gong Wu to help her come back to life. At the start of season 2, she takes over the world. Meanwhile, Jack rescues the Xiaolin gang and sends Omi into the past to find Dashi to ask for help. He gets a new puzzle box, and returns to help his friends overthrow Wuya. Rai, predictably, ends up trapping Wuya and rejoining his friends. But in the next ep, Katnappe releases Wuya, once again a ghost. They try working together, but it doesn't last. Things go back to normal, after that. But more villains will be introduced, some who work alone, like Pandabubba; others work with Jack and/or Wuya, from time to time. A fat ninja named Tubbimura, a giant cyclops, some Russian guy named Vlad. Katnappe occasionally shows up, too.

But the main new villain is Chase Young, who is very powerful (and has no particular interest in Shen Gong Wu). Jack wants to work with him, but he has no interest in Jack. Instead, he wants Omi to turn to the dark side and join him, for he foresees Omi growing very powerful one day. Also, Wuya eventually ditches Jack to work with Chase. Allegiances among the various villains continually shift, and Jack occasionally works with the good guys, but never for long. The most disturbing thing, though, is that over the course of season two, we see Omi slowly growing ever-closer to Chase, in spite of his determination not to join him....

Of course, Omi returns to the good side in season 3. The dragon warriors advance to the level of Wudai warriors, obtaining new powers. But of course, they still have to worry about their old enemies, and obtaining more Shen Gong Wu. There are also new enemies, including Hannibal Roy Bean (a very old villain who had turned Chase Young evil, long ago). But there'll be new allies, too, including Monk Guan. Um... and I don't exactly remember how it all ended. I can't even say with 100% certainty that I saw the end of the series, but I probably did, and I'm sure it was really cool, and I'm also sure I wish there were at least one more season... because the further into the show you get, the more awesome it is, but, there's probably also some stuff that was left unresolved....

Update: in 2013 (seven years after this series ended) there was a spin-off called "Xiaolin Chronicles," but I haven't had a chance to see it yet.

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