The Jakarta Post
It appears as if one ass-kicking cuddly panda was not enough because animation powerhouse DreamWorks has brought the whole village to close out the trilogy.
Nearly eight years after the release of the prequel, by creating a sequel markedly better than the predecessor, the team at DreamWorks Animation has maintained its formula and created the best feature the studio has ever made.
Kung Fu Panda is a mix of classic Chinese legends and myths, cute animal characters, feel-good story and sophomoric humor that any age can relate to, studded by an expensive line up of star actor-voiced characters.
And the formula works best in Kung Fu Panda 3 as, without losing the way, it has managed to develop the character of the titular protagonist by expanding the story rather than repeating it. The stunning animation simply takes it to a higher kid franchise level.
The story picks up shortly after Po (voiced by Jack Black) and the Furious Five defeated the sinister Lord Shen (Gary Oldman) who dreamed of conquering China, fulfilling a prophecy which had also led to the annihilation of the panda village.
The darkness of the sequel was replaced by a cheery atmosphere when Po reunited with his father Li Shan (Bryan Cranston) ' his foster father, the swan goose Mr. Ping (James Hong), was the only one not cheering.
The reunion coincides with Po becoming the new trainer for Tigress, Monkey, Mantis, Viper and Crane (Angelina Jolie, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu and David Cross) and thus ascending to a new level of his training.
Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) decides to leave his post to the Dragon Warrior as he wants to commit himself to the study of chi ' the inner strength within all life forms.
Still dubious of being a Dragon Warrior, Po feels the pressure of his new responsibility and finds relief by kicking and punching the Jombies ' the jade zombies of deceased kung fu masters ' the minions of master bull Kai (J.K. Simmons) who found his way back from the spirit realm.
In hopes of satisfying his personal vengeance on Oogway, who killed him 500 years ago, Kai, who used to be the brother-in-arms of the tortoise Grand Master Oogway (Randall Duk Kim), holds on to his obsession for possessing the chi of all kung fu masters.
To confront Kai, Po has to go with his father to the panda homestead, where he can live the panda way, to be able to exert his own chi.
This sequel seems to be the epitome of the Kung Fu Panda franchise where characters from the comic, game and direct-to-CD films appear alongside the new panda village characters.
The younger of the Jolie-Pitt siblings voiced the panda cub characters that will steal the hearts of young viewers. If the film turns out to be a hit, these cute dumpling eaters will probably see their own movie and merchandise.
While, in the two previous movies, the scenes in which the Furious Five gets action are the most-awaited, they don't appear much in part three ' except for Tigress who now wears a long robe instead of a sleeveless shirt and pants ' the only disappointing factor for hardcore fans although, judging from how Kung Fu Panda 3 ends, the five could probably have their own series soon too.
As seen in Po's facial expression when he sees his long-lost father try on the legendary Flying Rhino's armor suit during a tour of the Jade Palace, a touch of Japanese-style animation is felt throughout the movie.
The grandeur production design makes for a film better viewed in 3D. Both versions will be available to view in cinemas from March 8.
Directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson, of the second film, along with Alessandro Carloni, Kung Fu Panda 3 might be the best of all. It's entertaining, a feast for the eyes and a happy farewell to the adventures of Po. Skadoosh.
Kung Fu Panda 3
(DreamWorks Animation, 95 minutes)
Directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson, Alessandro Carloni
Cast (voice): Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Dustin Hoffman, J. K. Simmons, James Hong, Jackie Chan, Lucy Liu, Seth Rogen, David Cross, Bryan Cranston, Mads Mikkelsen, Kate Hudson, Randall Duk Kim.
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