What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that martial-arts style fighting is central to the plot of this tween-targeted cartoon, so there's lots of hitting, kicking, and use of everyday objects (sticks, pipes, even link sausages) as weapons. Aside from the use of traditional kung fu moves, there's little reality to any of the violence; as in many live-action martial-arts movies, characters are able to endure far more impact than a human body realistically could. Between that and the show's other magical, mystical elements, there's a lot of fantasy in play, so be sure your kids can decipher what's real from what's not. Also, know that the show isn't out to drive home any strong positive lessons: The only consistent message for tweens is that fighting is a reliable means of conflict resolution. One bright spot is the lead female character, who uses her smarts -- not just her fists -- to battle the enemy.
What's the story?
In the heart of Chinatown sits Wu's Garden Chinese restaurant, whose unremarkable exterior belies the extraordinary things that go on inside. It's here that three teens train under Nana (voiced by Nancy Wu), an expert in martial arts and Eastern magic. With the help of her apprentices, Nana must locate the contents of a magic cookbook long since scattered by the evil Kong Li (Lex Woutas), who wants to use the recipes in the book to destroy the force field that protects the city and wreak havoc on the people there. Only through their mastery of kung fu can Sue (Stephanie Sheh), Sid (Johnny Bosch), and Tobey (Robby Sharpe) defeat Kong Li and ensure Chinatown's continued safety.
Is it any good?
It's clear that the creators of THREE DELIVERY realized there's nothing particularly original about the concept of average-teens-turned-superheroes who, despite their age and worldly inexperience, manage to undermine a villain's best-laid plans. So the show attempts to distinguish itself from its peers with the concept of the magical cookbook -- its recipes can awaken mythical dragons and brew exponentially multiplying batches of soup that envelope entire towns. True, it rates high on the hokey scale for adults, but it's the stuff young tweens -- especially adventure-loving boys -- probably will enjoy.
That said, the show is so rooted in fantasy that it could send mixed messages to younger viewers. Martial-arts style fighting is central to the plot and serves as the main means of conflict resolution -- and none of it results in realistic injury. The teens fly solo in battles against Kong Li and his minions, and (as per usual in cartoons) the good guys always win. One bright spot in this otherwise so-so cartoon is its attempt to expose viewers to aspects of the Chinese culture by referencing Chinese phrases, celebrations, food, and mythology. And it has a strong female lead in Sue, who's a worthy kung fu fighter but also relies on her book smarts to undermine the enemy.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the impression that the show gives of the martial-arts tradition. Do the fights seem realistic? Why or why not? How do you think real martial-arts experts might feel about shows like this? What could you gain from learning martial arts? Would you want to try it? How does the practice of martial arts fit into Chinese history? What equivalents (if any) exist in American heritage? Families can also use this show to learn more about Chinese traditions and culture.