The ongoing battle between heroic Jack and the evil shape-shifter Aku simultaneously evokes and spoofs the conventions of anime and Western live-action film. Long ago, Jack nearly destroyed Aku in a duel; in desperation, the wizard hurled the samurai far into the future, where Aku's word is law. Jack fights robots, monsters, bounty hunters, etc. as he seeks to return to his own time, so he can prevent Aku's rise to supremacy.
The writing is sometimes uneven, but even when the material feels weak, the visual imagination never falters, from the flamboyant character designs to the use of split-screen. The filmmakers stage the quiet moments as skillfully as the action sequences, and Samurai Jack offers more exciting storytelling than many big-budget animated features. (Unrated: suitable for ages 10 and older: stylized violence, occasional profanity) --Charles Solomon