During my daily commute, where I often do my best thinking, I suddenly remembered WMAC Masters, and all its hyper martial arts glory. Not quite a cartoon, this aired — at least for me — at noon, when cartoons were officially over. Considering it wasn’t reruns of Soul Train, I was at least curious. Seeing the over-the-top action performed by human cartoons, I was all in. With characters like Yin Yang Man, Red Dragon, Turbo, and Olympus, how could I not be?
WMAC Masters (World Martial Art Counsel), had a host of
caricatures martial artists competing for the coveted Dragon Star. Fighters would face off against each other, the winner earning the other’s symbol. Collecting 10 symbols, which completed their belt, allowed them to challenge the current Dragon Star holder in a title match. The reigning Dragon Star got to do cool things like not talk as he sat upon his Conan-like pedestal, unable to hang out with the other fighters back stage. The fights consisted of the two combatants (there was a female league as well) each facing off against a horde of ninjas. Their power score meter was knocked down every time they screwed up (took a hit, bad technique, etc.), before facing off against each other.
I can’t begin to describe on how many levels this show was a joke. Each character had horribly bland or vaguely racist designs. The intent, of course, was to sell toys. There was the aforementioned Yin Yang Man, who as you could guess, was Asian. Or Tsunami, who was not only Asian, but has the wave from the famous Edo Great Wave off Kanagawa painting on his shirt. Let’s continue playing everyone’s favorite game, is it racist? Here are the names of a few other fighters, what ethnicity were they? Panther. Olympus. Great Wolf. Hollywood. Whatever images those names invoked, yes.
As for the martial arts on display, I need to throw out this qualifier. I’ve been an MMA fighter for nine years. Not turning this into a brag fest, let’s just say I know a lot. The fighting here was terrible. I’m not disputing the talent of the actors — you try and kick higher than your head without falling on your butt (trust me, it’s hard). The show had some of the best choreography this side of Power Rangers. Give me an hour, though, and I’ll come up with better. Sigh. I think I’ve missed my calling in life.
The show lasted only two seasons, with one hell of a cliffhanger at the end of each (it wasn’t Turbo, honest, I checked). Due to poor ratings and shockingly bad toy sales (did not even know there were any at the time), the show was cancelled. Fun fact: Shannon Lee, daughter of legend Bruce Lee and brother of the Crow, Brandon Lee, was the host the first season. The second season went way overboard, not really needing a host any more.
This is a Mortal Kombat knockoff. The show, fights, and characters took obvious inspiration from the game. Score meters? Random ninjas? Every character had an MK analogy, like the Machine (a muscular black man, who wore fake machine parts/armor) obviously being a ripoff of Jax. This was terrible. Fun to watch now, if you’ve seen the show before, or I guess if you haven’t. All the episodes are available on YouTube in wonderful ripped-from-VHS definition. Give it a go if you’re looking for a laugh. I know this isn’t a cartoon, but where else was I supposed to put this nonsense?
Anyone think the announcer sounded like the Omega Virus? Can you kick higher than your head? Comment below!
In addition to THN’s Saturday Morning Cartoons and Nerd at the Movies, Tony writes for his own site, thecredhulk.com, about comics, video games, movies, TV and more, six days a week. You can follow his updates on Facebook or Twitter. Drop by and tell ’em hi.
Carmichael Simon’s fighter name was Kid Carmichael.