Po Go with the
AS FUN as the 2008 animated hit Kung Fu Panda turned out to be, there was always a grey area concerning the movie’s black-andwhite hero.
You should know exactly what I’m talking about. And if you don’t, well, you’ve flunked Movie Biology 101.
Come on now. You must have noticed a certain physical dissimilarity between the headstrong young Po ( voiced by Jack Black) and his wise old dad Mr Ping ( James Hong).
A lard-carrying panda the son of a card-carrying goose? And no explanation throughout the first Kung Fu Panda as to how this can possibly be? Again I say: come on now. Moving to right this wrong, the makers of Kung Fu Panda 2 get right down to backstory business from the opening scenes.
It is here we learn that Po’s real ma and pa were the victims of a China-wide purge of pandas, personally ordered by the psychotic war-mongering peacock Lord Shen ( Gary Oldman).
Shen is none too pleased when he learns Po survived the cull, particularly as it was prophesied that a panda would one day prove his undoing.
And so Po and his merry band of martial arts masters, the Furious Five, still spearheaded by Tigress ( Angelina Jolie) and Monkey ( Jackie Chan), are placed on a collision course with dark forces allied to the villainous Lord Shen.
Getting the better of this bad dude will not be easy, as Shen has developed a monster cannon that overpowers the magic of kung fu every time.
To properly assess the merits of Kung Fu Panda 2, you must compare it to two other films.
The first, of course, is the original KFP, alongside which its No. 2 stacks up very well indeed.
The upgrade to 3D is worthwhile, the story is a solid refinement of the best bits from before, and the balance between light humour and darker drama is well maintained.
Secondly, if you put Kung Fu Panda 2 head-to-head with the other animated sequel hitting cinemas of late, you would have to say the slick Cars 2 is beaten for the checkered flag by the burly panda bear.
Kung Fu Panda 2 has a better plot, superior vocal performances – yes, that even includes Jean-Claude Van Damme as a kooky crocodile – and gives off a little bit of soul that its rival lacks.