May 19, 1997 12:00 PM

Mario Yedidia, Marley Shelton, Angus MacFadyen

This sometimes charming, sometimes vile, but always lively kids’ action movie turns on the adventures of Ryan Jeffers (Yedidia), a 12-year-old schoolboy with a crippled leg who is magically transported to the mystical subterranean kingdom of Tao.

Tao’s good citizens are ruled by a comely princess, the precociously gorgeous Shelton, whose evil opposite is Komodo (MacFadyen), a flabby villain in an electric-blue caftan. Keeping the peace are five Roo-Warriors, anthropomorphic kangaroos (played by actors in cumbersome ‘roo suits and by animatronic models) who are adept at martial arts and, of course, have an aphorism-oozing Oriental guru (Chao-Li Chi).

Sadly, when the movie reveals the ultimate secret of Tao, writers Hugh Kelley and Michael Vickerman come up with that most pathetic of sub-philosophies, “S—t happens.” The film is a pet project of producers Christopher, Dennis, Jeremy and Ronald Law, brothers who grew up in Hong Kong and are now all practicing MDs in Denver. Truth be told, it’s just as well that they kept their day jobs. (PG)

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