What the World is Watching

Jackie Chan Adventures

jackie chan adventures logo“The Mask of El Toro Fuerte”
Season 1 Episode 3
9/23/2000
Due to the waning days of my adolescence, I was not hip to the action-packed cartoon series that was Jackie Chan Adventures. Given that most of the stunts Chan pulled off in his live-action movies were so damn awesome they blurred the lines of reality, real-life Jackie Chan was definitely better than the animated one anyway. I’d give the cartoon props for sticking to the unbelievable style of Chan’s martial arts, but then again, every action sequence/fighting scene in a cartoon already tends to stretch the limits of real world physics. I will give the creators props for attention to detail, like Chan’s broken English. Why else would this cartoon series be called Jackie Chan Adventures and not The Adventures of Jackie Chan? Early on in the first season of this series the creators introduced El Toro Fuerte, a character that I came to find out, after some clever sleuthing on IMDB.com, is actually a recurring character throughout the cartoon’s run. But seeing as I’m not going to review all ten-plus episodes that feature El Toro Fuerte, I figured I’d go with his aptly-titled debut episode.

Jackie is with his underage, super annoying, sidekick, Jade, exploring some Aztec ruins in Mexico, in search of a mystical ox talisman. Apparently, this entire show is one big National Treasure-esque hunt for talismans. Jackie isn’t the only one in search of these, and is ambushed by perennial baddies, which includes a big sumo guy named Tohru. They give chase on their motorcycles while Jackie and Jade escape via stolen hang glider off some nearby cliff, while the bad guys plummet to their deaths some river, thwarted for the time being because they lacked vision. And not like, big picture-type vision, but rather, there’s a cliff 50 yards away vision.

IMG_1446While in some tourist plaza, Jade runs into a little Mexican boy named Paco (no surprise there), who’s handing out flyers for that night’s wrestling event. Jade, like every other hateful person in the world who dislikes seeing people happy, quickly points out how wrestling is fake. Paco defends his lucha hero claiming that “El Toro Fuerte is not fake,” clearly misinterpreting Jade due to the language barrier. They get into a classic “can not/can to” debate over whether or not Jackie can take down El Toro Fuerte. Then racist Jackie Chan shows up, sporting a sombrero he undoubtedly haggled the already poor Mexican vendor for, and notices that El Toro’s bull emblem on his mask might be the talisman he’s been searching for.

At the actual wrestling event, Tohru and his crew show also up, but in sombreros and ponchos so as not to arouse suspicion, despite being dressed as a racist white person’s idea of what Mexicans look like. They then have the audacity to diss pro wrestling/lucha libre and also call it fake. While technically they’re right, it’s still an asshole move. How much more do you need to shit on a particular country’s culture?

IMG_1459Backstage, Jackie is still in search of talisman. Tohru eventually finds his way back there as well because security at lucha libre events is pretty lax. Tohru spots Jackie and another game of cat and mouse ensues and then ends in the only predictable way a chase can end in a place full of colorful masks and capes, with Jackie disguising himself as a luchador. In this case, El Pollo Enmascarado a.k.a. The Masked Chicken, who just happens to be El Toro’s opponent. El Toro dominates Jackie and makes quick work of him. Surprisingly, the wrestling moves are realistic. El Toro avalanches Jackie in the corner, then body slams him and finishes him off with a running body splash. A typical big guy finisher. Not surprisingly, the one move Jackie pulls off is done in typical Jackie Chan cartoon fashion. He backflips onto the top turnbuckle then delivers a flying karate kick, Rob Van Dam style.

In an awesome nod to the heritage of lucha libre, the match happens to be a mask vs. mask match. Which goes to show that someone on the writing staff really did their research and not just looked it up on Wikipedia, because it wasn’t around back then. Yet, the writers ignore the fact that these types of matches are usually reserved for the blow-off match after a heated rivalry. El Toro strips Jackie of his mask and the fans… don’t really care. The bad guys keep still after Tohru alerts them that Jackie doesn’t have the talisman. They leave and so does the entire crowd, and arena personnel, before Jackie eventually wakes up. While in his semi-comatose state, his uncle appears to him and tells him that that the source of El Toro’s strength is the ox talisman on his mask. Thank you, Uncle Obvious. It was either that or steroids. Lots and lots of steroids. Jackie relates the message to Jade who replies, in typical little shit fashion, that she knew it was all fake.

IMG_1460Outside the arena, Jackie finds El Toro in his Sunday’s best, still sporting his mask. An awesome nod to the old school Mexican B-movies that starred El Santo and Blue Demon. Jackie, still being culturally insensitive, inquires about the mask while trying to touch it. Before El Toro can beat him down a second time, a swarm of ninjas attack, forcing them to team up together. Who wrote this? Teddy Long? All of a sudden this has turned into El Toro Fuerte y Jackie Chan contra Los Ninjas del Shadowcon. The ninjas escape with El Toro’s mask and traumatize young Paco in the process. Tohru shows up and takes the emblem off the mask. Paco runs off crying, having learned what no little kid at that age wants to learn about professional wrestling: that his favorite luchador is indeed a phony.

IMG_1454Jackie Chan is kidnapped by the baddies and Jade convinces a now mild-mannered El Toro to help her save Jackie. Jade and El Toro find Jackie tied to a plane that’s taking off. Once inside, Tohru and El Toro engage in an epic Test of Strength, or game of Mercy, that rivals that of Hulk Hogan and Ultimate Warrior from WrestleMania VI; while Jackie still perilously hangs from a rope outside the plane. Jade accidentally knocks out the pilot, and continues being the worst, while Jackie finally makes his way inside. The men realize the pilot has been knocked out and collectively lose their shit as they run to the cockpit.
They miraculously make a safe, emergency landing, despite never taking a flying lesson themselves, and coincidentally land near the spot where they were previously jumped by the ninjas. A disillusioned Paco is still there sulking. And who can blame him? Tohru disposes of the makeshift tag team, but then gets his ass handed to him by Jade, who’s now stolen the emblem and placed it on her belt buckle. Jackie and Jade make no mention of giving back the emblem to its rightful owner, El Toro, because apparently only they can keep all the talismans (talismen?) of the world. Paco forgives El Toro and asks him to train him in the ways of the luchador. So, at least the downtrodden Mexicans have their renewed friendship going for them.
IMG_1448The show ends with real-life Jackie Chan answering kids’ questions while practicing martial arts. Not one of those questions was, why did cartoon Jackie Chan decide to keep the ox talisman instead of giving it back to El Toro Fuerte? Who would’ve thought for a kids show, featuring Asian protagonists, Jackie Chan Adventures would involve little sensitivity towards other cultures and a blatant disregard for civic duty? I guess there are worse cartoons out there. And what was up with the animation? The characters were fine, but every damn backdrop had some weird aesthetic that employed coloring outside the lines. Was that supposed to appeal to the shitty artistic endeavors of five year old kids everywhere?

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