‘Kung Fu Panda’s’ heart-warming sequel packs a mighty punch
ASIDE from reliable regulars, Jack Black (who voices Po), Angelina Jolie (as Tigress), Dustin Hoffman (Master Shifu), Lucy Liu (Viper), Jackie Chan (Monkey), David Cross (Crane) and Seth Rogen (Mantis), the third installment of the animated series about the zany (mis)adventures of the clumsy giant Panda with a ravenous appetite introduces a stellar new set of voice actors to keep him busy—and his ever-expanding mythology eventful!
The film franchise’s second edition in 2011 may have fallen victim to the law of diminishing returns, but its third (and last?) installment offers a heart-warming fable that brings Po’s story closer to home. —This time around, Po doesn’t just meet his biological father, Li Shan (Bryan Cranston), and Mei Mei (Kate Hudson), his love interest, he also gets to interact with the rest of the panda population!
Po finds himself retracing his roots when the lives of his peers and the future of the world are put in peril by the unexpected arrival of Kai (JK Simmons).
Unfortunately, the vicious, once-banished spirit warrior has the supernatural ability to steal other warriors’ chi—the “life force” or energy that fuels the practice of acupuncture! Even Master Shifu and the Furious Five are susceptible to Kai’s magical powers.
Kai can only be stopped by Po’s becoming a true master of chi—which requires mastery of self!
So, Po must learn to harness his chi, an innate ability found in panda colonies, by taking a trip with Li Shan and his adoptive dad, Mr. Ping (James Hong), to the secret hideaway of the pandas.
But, is Po willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to save the lives of his friends and loved ones—and the world he has grudgingly sworn to protect?
Fast-paced and funny, the film may not be all that original, but it nonetheless packs a mighty punch. Its luscious combination of colors and innovative drawing makes it even more appealing.
Directors Jennifer Yuh Nelson and Alessandro Carloni make full use of Black’s unbridled kookiness and improvisational comedic judiciousness
—he keeps the film’s disparate elements together, and its excesses in check.
What make Po’s scenes endearing are the “relatable” relationships he forges with his two fathers, and the supportive friends who are smart enough to know that Po has a secret weapon that no kung fu skill or magical incantation can vanquish—a good heart!