Review – Kung Fu Panda

Kung Fu Panda [2008]

Starring: Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Jackie Chan, Lucy Liu, Ian McShane,
Director: Mark Osborne, John Stevenson
Screenwriter: Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger

Jack Black is a funny guy. It’s undeniable. He has a talent for making people laugh. And laugh hard. I always wondered how his comedy would translate into animation. Would it still be as funny as watching live-action films of his? After watching Kung Fu Panda, any fears I had were immediately allayed. This is a very enjoyable film, for people of all ages. It’s true that children will find more to like than adults, but I found more than enough to entertain me

Jack Black voices Po, a panda who works in a local noodle shop for his father (who happens to be a bird… I didn’t question it, it’s best if you don’t – more fun that way), but dreams of becoming a kung-fu master, just like his idols; his idols being the kung fu masters Tigress, Mantis, Crane, Monkey and Viper. One day, the old turtle master Oogway (Randall Duk Kim) tells his pupil, Shifu (voiced by Dustin Hoffman), that he’s had a vision that Shifu’s former student, the evil Tai Lung (Ian McShane) will escape from his prison. This prompts the turtle master to decide that now is the time for one to receive the legendary dragon scroll, and with it, the key to unlimited power.

Through what appears to be a fluke (but is it really destiny?), Po, the big fat panda, is chosen as the Dragon Master. Of course, this upsets Shifu and his pupils, as he has been training them for years and doesn’t delight in having to train a big fat panda to become the renowned Dragon Master. Of course the turtle master’s premonition comes true, and Tai Lung escapes from prison. Can Po learn the art of kung fu in time to stop him? His training doesn’t go well at first, and although it’s inevitable that he improves, the way by which he’s able to is quite entertaining and very enjoyable to watch. You’ll see.

Kung Fu Panda has a distinctive and unique style, whereas so many CGI films these days feel like retreads of the same old same old. During action sequences, for example, things will often go into slow motion so that we can see every small detail of the intense kung fu moves. One might think that this would get tiring, but I never found myself tired of the gimmick, and more often than not, found myself laughing as a result of it.

Kung Fu Panda is light-hearted fun that anyone can enjoy. If you’re looking for something funny but not too serious, Kung Fu Panda works quite well. Jack Black is owed a huge amount of praise here. He turns Po into an extremely likable character, and one that we can all understand and, in a way, relate to. Black has an uncanny ability to make us enjoy just listening to him, and the delivery of his lines. And Kung Fu Panda has plenty of them that he pulls off perfectly. The film makes fun of itself, and so does Black, and we like him all the more for it.

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