Reel Shorts | Kung Fu Panda

6 06 2008

A dissatisfied Panda with a love of martial arts, finds out that he is chosen to fulfill an ancient prophecy in the delightfully funny animated comedy, “Kung Fu Panda.”

Jack Black lends his voice and persona to dissatisfied slacker panda Po who is stuck serving noodles while he yearns to learn Kung Fu. While his father is grooming him to take over the family business, Po dreams of training with his idols, the legendary Furious Five, Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Crane (David Cross), Mantis (Seth Rogen), Viper (Lucy Liu) and Monkey (Jackie Chan) all trained by their teacher, Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman).

When Kung Fu master and Yoda-like figure, Oogway (Randall Duk Kim) informs Shifu that he senses that prophesy of the Dragon Scroll is ready to be fulfilled. Shifu summons his pupils in preparation that one of them will be the mighty unstoppable Dragon Warrior. But just as Oogway is ready to make his declaration, Po “drops” in and changes everything. Soon the groupie Panda rubs the jealous Kung Fu team the wrong way, but much like Neo in “The Matrix,” before he can fulfill his destiny he must first believe that he is the one.

While Po is coming to grips with his destiny, Oogway senses trouble far, far away. A former student, Tai Lung (Ian McShane) is locked away in an ultra-maximum prison where there are a thousand guards just for him. Hell bent on getting revenge on Shifu for locking away, Tai Lung escapes to claim the power of the Dragon Scroll and become the ultimate warrior. The only thing standing between him and total chaos is . . . Po!

Shifu’s initial methods of training Po prove to be totally ineffective until he discovers that his new pupil overeats when he is upset. Using a cross between “Rocky” and “The Karate Kid,” Shifu puts Po through a rigorous training to prepare him for the ensuing battle. In the film’s funniest sequence, Shifu uses Po’s weakness to help mold and train his greatest student. “Kung Fu Panda” is a high-octane comic adventure that shoots down the notion of who is a hero. Not the typical animated film, “Kung Fu Panda” is an action-packed butt-kicking comic spectacle that is one of the best-animated films of the year so far.

Directors Mark Osborne and John Stevenson have a talented cast and they brilliant orchestrate the action. The film is anchored by great voice work from Black, Jolie, Rogen, Liu, Hoffman, McShane, Michael Clarke Duncan and Chan. While the plot is somewhat familiar, in this case it doesn’t detract or take away from the action. By the time our hero discovers his power, he revels in his “awesome-ness,” restoring calm to the Valley of Peace.

Unlike the “Shrek” franchise, “Kung Fu Panda” stays away from current pop culture and ramps up the action and the humor. While not a perfect film, it has more than enough elements to make it ideal summer family film that works for everyone.

Grade: B




One response

8 07 2009


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