Please, don't ask me why I watched Scooby-Doo and the Samurai Sword, the most recent in a long line of direct to video animated films featuring Scooby-Doo and the rest of the gang. Let's just say that sometimes there is a curiosity that burns deep inside of me that extends out into the world of the Mystery Inc. crew (that would be Freddy, Velma, Daphne, Shaggy and Scooby-Doo, in case you didn't know), and when you throw in martial arts and samurais, I just can't resist.
This latest adventure of the gang finds them in Tokyo, where Daphne is competing in a martial arts tournament. Right there you know you're getting your money's worth, but then you mix in the mystery that our heroes must solve, and the fun really begins. As it turns out, the ancient Sword of Doom has been stolen, and the evil ghost of the Black Samurai wants it to help him come back to life and rule the world (or something like that). Before you know it, the Mystery Inc. crew is battling ninjas and cannibals as they seek to unravel the mystery of the Sword of Doom and the Black Samurai, but that only leads them to a much greater mystery, that finds Shaggy and Scooby training to become samurai warriors under the tutelage of the Green Dragon, a mystical dragon that holds the key to defeating the Black Samurai.
In some ways, Scooby-Doo and the Samurai Sword is typical of the recent Scooby-Doo animated movies that have been released over the last few years. Obviously, the target audience is younger children, and the animation is pretty much the standard, mid-level stuff you see on the Cartoon Network. The thing that makes this and films like Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island work is that it takes the old formula of the original series, and mixes things up a bit. Nowadays the Mystery Inc. gang is just as likely to run up against a real monster as they are an evil land developer trying to scare someone off so they can get rich. This adventure starts out pretty much as the typical adventure, with the gang unmasking a human culprit pretending to be a monster, but it shifts gears into a real supernatural realm, and in doing so gives Shaggy and Scooby an opportunity to shine.
Of course, none of this really matters, as the only issues of any importance are whether or not young children will like Scooby-Doo and the Samurai Sword and will it make adults regret having children after repeated viewings. The answers to those questions are "yes" and "yes, but not as quickly as some of the other Scooby-Doo movies."
Scooby-Doo and the Samurai Sword is presented in 1.33:1 full frame. The picture quality is good, and the animation is decent for direct to video product.
Scooby-Doo and the Samurai Sword is presented in 5.1 Dolby Digital in either English or Portuguese, with optional subtitles in English and Portuguese. The sound quality is good, with consistent levels and quality mix.
The brief featurette "Scooby-Doo Dojo" will provide your children with an introduction to the world of martial arts and the way of the samurai.
If your kids are fans of the Scooby-Doo animated films, they will enjoy this latest adventure, which ranks among the better entries. And while this one will no-doubt get on your nerves as much as the others, it may take a bit longer to do so, and it is more entertaining.
David Walker is the creator of BadAzz MoFo, a nationally published film critic, and the Writer/Director of Black Santa's Revenge with Ken Foree now on DVD [Buy it now]