Samurai Girl



Airdate: 8-10 p.m., Friday, Sept. 5 (ABC Family)

Loaded with adventure, drama and more than enough histrionics to please (or offend) the average viewer, ABC Family's new six-hour miniseries "Samurai Girl" doesn't stop for a minute in an all-out effort to entertain the senses. The intellect is another story altogether.

The story line is pretty much a hand-me-down. A young Japanese woman named Heaven (played with panache and gusto by relative newcomer Jamie Chung) grows up in a privileged family in Japan and is about to be married to the son of her father's business partner. Just as she is to take her vows, someone close to her is murdered. The violent act plunges Heaven into a world of Samurai tradition she never knew before the reveals truths about her real identity.

The three-part series (airing Friday, Saturday and Sunday) borrows heavily from what we've come to expect from the action genre and Samurai mythology. It plays around with trying to twist myth and history into some new shape but doesn't succeed much.

Based on a series of popular young-adult novels, "Samurai" at least continues the rather recent tradition of putting girls in the spotlight as capable, savvy warriors (of many kinds of emotional and physical wars). But while it's nice to see a young woman outsmarting, outwhipping and out-and-out defeating her male opponents, "Samurai" could use a few new tricks, something original to add to the genre that plays yet again with forces of good and evil.

The series' cast is more than capable, especially Chung as the woman warrior who is as much a novice as fierce competitor in her newly discovered world. Also strong is Brendan Fehr as Jake Stanton, Heaven's friend and cohort.

Although the drama is sometimes over the top and not always palpable, the action is nonstop. For that, "Samurai" will more than please action-adventure fans.

Production: ABC Studios in association with ABC Family. Cast: Jamie Chung, Brendan Fehr, Saige Thompson, Kyle Labine. Executive producers: Andre Nemee & Josh Appelbaum, Scott Rosenberg, Leslie Morgenstein, Bob Levy. Producer: Mark Ovitz. Co-executive producer: Luke McMullen.