The life of Po

Three­quel main­tains the fran­chise’s trade­mark fun an­i­mal kung fu ac­tion- com­edy for­mula.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - MOVIES - Re­view by MICHAEL CHEANG en­ter­tain­ment@ thes­tar. com. my

Kung Fu Panda 3 Di­rec­tors: Alessan­dro Car­loni, Jen­nifer Yuh Cast: Jack Black, Bryan Cranston, James Hong, Dustin Hoff­man, J. K. Sim­mons, Kate Hud­son

IT says a lot about the ap­peal of the Kung Fu Panda fran­chise that three movies later, the idea of a kung fu- fight­ing panda is still as fresh and funny as it was in 2008.

When the first movie came out back then, I was thrilled. It was beau­ti­fully an­i­mated, had spot- on voice ac­tors, a kick- ass story, and best of all, from the tini­est man­tis to the podgi­est of pan­das, ev­ery­body was kung fu fight­ing. The se­quel in 2011 was even bet­ter – with more ex­plo­sive set- pieces, more cre­atively imag­ined an­i­mal- fu se­quences, and a vil­lain that was a pea­cock, of all beasts.

Hap­pily, Kung Fu Panda 3 man­ages to keep the fran­chise’s rep­u­ta­tion as a gor­geously- an­i­mated, fun- filled, an­i­mal- kung fu ac­tion- com­edy fran­chise largely in­tact.

Set some time af­ter the last movie, the film be­gins with Mas­ter Shifu ( Dustin Hoff­man) an­nounc­ing his re­tire­ment, and as the cur­rent Dragon War­rior, Po ( Jack Black) has to take over as the Jade Palace’s mas­ter and teach peo­ple kung fu.

The only prob­lem is, he’s not a very good teacher in the first place.

Then, things get even more com­pli­cated when his bi­o­log­i­cal father ( Bryan Cranston) shows up and to­gether, they travel to a se­cret panda vil­lage in the moun­tains, with his adopted father, Mr Ping the goose ( James Hong), in tow.

Mean­while, a pow­er­ful war­rior from the past named Kai ( J. K. Sim­mons) es­capes from the spirit realm and goes on a ram­page across the coun­try, ab­sorb­ing the chi of all the mar­tial arts masters and turn­ing them into mind­less jade zom­bies ( or as Po puts it, “jom­bies”). So now, it’s up to Po to learn how to use chi, teach ev­ery­one kung fu, and save the day once again. Skadoosh!

While Kung Fu Panda 3 is al­most as en­ter­tain­ing and fun as its pre­de­ces­sors, I couldn’t help but no­tice that some cracks are be­gin­ning to show in the beloved panda’s armour. There is a cer­tain sense of “been there, done that” run­ning through­out the movie.

The story is pretty much the same as the first two movies – Po has to learn some­thing new, fails mis­er­ably, then goes on to dis­cover a new side of him­self, and de­feat the bad guy in the end. The flow of the plot also seems a lit­tle hap­haz­ard, with char­ac­ters reach­ing im­por­tant epipha­nies with­out any in­di­ca­tion of how they got there in the first place.

Black is still pretty funny as Po too, and the Fu­ri­ous Five – Ti­gress ( An­gelina Jolie), Mon­key ( Jackie Chan), Snake ( Lucy Liu), Man­tis ( Seth Ro­gen), and Crane ( David Cross) – also get their time to shine ( es­pe­cially in one fight against Kai). How­ever, the vil­lain this time, while for­mi­da­ble in terms of power and threat, just doesn’t stand out as much as, say, the pea­cock in KP2 did. It’s not Sim­mons’ fault, it’s just that Kai’s mo­ti­va­tions and ori­gin aren’t too imag­i­na­tive in the first place.

Other than that, there is still a lot to like about Kung Fu Panda 3. The pace flows like wa­ter, the jokes are as un­re­lent­ing as a flurry of fists, and there is even time for a lit­tle roly- poly panda R& R in be­tween fights that helps flesh out Po’s char­ac­ter even more.

The pres­ence of other pan­das be­sides Po gives the story a wel­come new dy­namic, and his new role as teacher does open up new pos­si­bil­i­ties for the char­ac­ter.

With Dream­Works An­i­ma­tion con­firm­ing re­cently that there are plans for THREE MORE movies, he’s go­ing to need all the new moves he can get.

there is only one word we can use to de­scribe this pic­ture: SKADOOSH!

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