THE AMAZING PANDA ADVENTURE tells the story of an American boy who
goes to China and helps save a young panda from poachers. As the story
unfolds, our hero is a boy of about twelve named Ryan Tyler (Ryan
Slater--yes, he is Christian's younger brother) who is giving a report
on what his dad does for a living. It seems his parents are divorced,
and he never sees his dad, Dr. Michael Tyler (Stephen Lang), because
his dad stays in China trying to save pandas from extinction. As Ryan
puts it in his report, "There are only 1,000 pandas left in the world.
The problem is that people don't care."
Ryan gets tickets from his dad to come and visit him on his panda
reserve in China, but he does not want to go. His mother appears
briefly in the movie to comfort him with "Planes work both ways. If
you really don't like it over there, you can come home."
When Ryan gets to China, his father is not there to met him at the
airport as promised, and Ryan soon gets lost in a sea of signs all in
Chinese characters. This hit home since years ago I got lost on a
remote subway station in Japan, and all of the signs were in Japanese.
It is quite discombobulating. Eventually, Ryan finds the panda
reserve, but his dad does not care since he is about to leave to save a
young panda. After at first declaring, "I'm not risking my life for
some stupid old panda bear," Ryan tags along with his dad anyway.
The rest of the show is a series of adventures that will scare
young children and bore most older ones. For a dissenting view, catch
Jeffrey's opinion at the end. We have people being shot with the
resulting bloody wounds, animals caught in vicious traps pulling so
hard you think their legs will tear off, people falling off high
cliffs, people appearing to drown, etc. The movie is simply one long
chase scene filled with dangers. At least it does have the predictably
The acting by Slater is pedestrian and that by Lang down right
awful. Dr. Tyler's assistants are Ling (Yi Ding) and Chu (Wang Fei).
Fei demonstrates no acting ability, but Ding gives the one compelling
performance of the movie. She would be worth seeing again. Finally,
the two bad guys look and act exactly like the idiotic Squat and Baboo
from "The Power Rangers."
The script (Laurice Elehwany, Jeff Rothberg, and Alex Siskin) is
exceedingly poor and feels like it was put together by a committee.
When Ryan gets in trouble and needs to fix a transmitter, he reassures
Yi with "Relax, I'm an American. My life revolves around electronics.
I think I can handle it."
The star of the show and the only reason to see the movie at all
are the pandas. The scene of the newly born, furless, baby panda is so
precious. When he gets a little older, he is just as lovable. Every
time he coos, you want to go hug him. I was once lucky enough to hold
a koala in Australia, and watching Ryan hold a young panda, Ryan made
me wish I was him.
The show does have one sweet scene not involving the pandas. Ryan
and Ling get leeches on them which makes them tear their clothes off.
When they realize what they have done, they both get extremely
embarrassed. Ryan tries to get over the embarrassment by reassuring
Ling that "I've seen naked ladies before. I have cable TV." It is a
tastefully done scene where they are only shot from the neck up.
The directing was by Christopher Cain whose last movie was THE
NEXT KARADE KID. Cain has no visible talent. Given the intrinsic
beauty of China, I thought the cinematography (Jack Green) was
There is one good thing about THE AMAZING PANDA ADVENTURE other
than the pandas - it starts with a fun cartoon geared to the adults in
the audience. The cartoon is entitled CARTOONBLANCA and is a direct
takeoff on CASABLANCA. The cartoon stars Bugs Bunny and all of his
friends. This one, of course, has a happy ending since it is a cartoon
THE AMAZING PANDA ADVENTURE runs too long at 1:30. It is rated PG
for many violent scenes that will frighten kids under 5 or 6. If you
like pandas, turn on the Discovery Channel instead of seeing this
movie. My incredibly agreeable son Jeffrey, age 6 1/2, gives the movie
the movie a thumbs up and a thumbs sideways. He liked the show, but
the thumbs sideways was for the scene of the leaches and the blood when
they pulled them off. I give the show * for the one sweet scene
involving people and all of the panda shots.
Copyright © 1995 Steve Rhodes