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Kung Fu Panda 3




Kung Fu Panda 3 (PG)
Film Reviews by Amy Diaz

02/04/16
By Amy Diaz adiaz@hippopress.com



 The fighting panda of previous films finds his panda kin in Kung Fu Panda 3, a slight but entertaining continuation of Po’s adventures.

Dragon Warrior Po (voice of Jack Black) is still hanging out with his buddies the Furious Five — Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Monkey (Jackie Chan), Mantis (Seth Rogen), Viper (Lucy Liu) and Crane (David Cross) — and still eating dumplings and other goodies made by his father, Ping (James Hong). Though the Furious Five might want to contact their agents about how few onscreen lines they have, life is basically good in the Valley of Peace. But in the spirit realm, where Master Oogway (Randall Duk Kim) now resides, an old enemy is amassing power. Kai (J.K. Simmons), an old friend of Oogway, is collecting the chi (as symbolized by jade amulets) from kung fu masters, seeking a way to return to the mortal world and become all-powerful. He takes Oogway’s chi but Oogway, as he is turning into jade, warns that he has already picked a warrior capable of stopping Kai. Thus, when Kai gets back to this mortal coil, he starts searching for Oogway’s students.
It’s at this exact time that Shifu (Dustin Hoffman), the Five and Po’s current master, decides to pass the teaching baton to someone else so that he can spend more time learning the secrets of chi. His pick? Po, who does not quite feel ready to teach or to lead his fellows. In this state of self-questioning, Po heads to the noodle stand to find that someone is about to beat his dumpling-eating record — and shockingly, that someone is another panda. Li (Bryan Cranston) says he is searching for the son he lost years ago; Po mentions that, coincidentally, he lost his dad years ago. The two wish each other luck but do eventually clue in to the fact that they might be the son/dad each other was looking for.
Po’s sudden promotion to kung fu teacher, his reunion with his father and the reappearance of the villainous Kai in the mortal plane all come together with the discovery that Kai can only be defeated by a chi expert and pandas apparently have the ability to master chi. Li offers to take Po back to the valley of pandas where he lives to teach him the secrets of chi. Because Ping doesn’t entirely trust this rando who is taking his son away, he stows away for the journey.
As mentioned, the Furious Five have become the Furious Five Contractually Obligated Lines with only Tigress playing a significant plot role and Viper’s role so slight I was sort of surprised when she actually talked. But the movie is called Kung Fu Panda, not Kung Fu Tertiary Characters, so even when most of the action follows Po to the panda village it doesn’t necessarily feel like we’re missing out.
Even with the new characters and setting and all the stuff about spirit realms, 3 feels even more streamlined that I remember the other movies feeling. It boils down to some core ideas — believe in yourself, teamwork is good, everybody has useful skills even if that skill is just hugging something really hard. These messages are delivered in a basically fun and gentle way with plenty of panda slapstick to keep kids happy and entertained. This isn’t some masterpiece of innovative storytelling, but it does a solid job of offering age-friendly amusement.
Rated PG for martial arts action and some mild rude humor. Directed by Alessandro Carloni and Jennifer Yuh and written by Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger, Kung Fu Panda 3 is an hour and 35 minutes long and distributed by 20th Century Fox. 
 

 






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