The laughs are obvious, as are the machinations, making ‘Kung Fu Panda 3’ a great film for children
For those of you who are interested (and I understand perfectly if you are not), Kung Fu Panda 3 is better than Kung Fu Panda 2, but not as good as Kung Fu Panda 1. This is primarily because even adorable pandas have their limits - and the talented, hilarious Jack Black who voices Po, our heroic, fuzzy, goofy, Kung Fu fighting panda, cannot work miracles with a formulaic script.
With each sequel Po becomes better at Kung Fu, winning the title of ‘Dragon Warrior’ in the second instalment, an event that pretty much defines the story arc of that film. Po’s posse, the ‘Furious Five members Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Crane (David Cross), Mantis (Seth Rogen), Viper (Lucy Liu), and Monkey (Jackie Chan), are as feisty as ever in this third film but unfortunately get short shrift, along with my favourite character Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman playing a venerable, loveable little red panda who is Po’s guru). Fairly early on in the film these brave fighters are turned into little jade talismans by the film’s arch villain Kai (J. K. Simmons) - an aggressive yak who has been trapped in the spirit realm for centuries after having been defeated by Master Oogway (Randall Duk Kim) - a slyly humourous giant turtle who is the undisputed master of all things Kung Fu.
Kai returns to this world having finally defeated Oogway in the spirit realm, set on destroying all his competition, capturing the chi of all the Kung Fu masters in his jade charms, and destroying the Jade Palace that is guarded by Shifu, Po, and the Furious Five, and holds all the ancient knowledge and teachings from Oogway.
Po, meanwhile, distracted by the sudden announcement of Master Shifu’s retirement is even more disconcerted by the arrival of his real father Li Shan (Bryan Cranston), another giant panda who appears out of the blue (claiming he received a mysterious message from the universe) to look for his long lost son. Po, in case you didn’t know, had, for all these years, been brought up by noodle store owning goose Mr. Ping (James Hong), who is in tears at the arrival of Po’s real dad.
Of course Kai must be defeated, but that is the boring part. The real delights of this film are yielded from the hilarious rivalry between Po’s two dads and Hong’s tender, crotchety, nuanced performance as a disgruntled, fearful Mr. Ping whose main concern is keeping his adoptive son’s enormous appetite fed.
The laughs are obvious, as are the machinations, making ‘Kung Fu Panda 3’ a great film for children but a bit boring for adults who might not be satisfied by just the albeit amazing 3D visuals. But hey, who doesn’t love pandas, right.
Kung Fu Panda 3 trailer