Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Review of Kung Fu Panda

I will admit this; the idea of a kungfu fighting panda is a winner. So it’s no surprise that I liked Kung Fu Panda.

The animated film from DreamWorks Animation is about Po, a bungling panda who aspires to be a great kung fu warrior. Of course, no one think this is possible as
1) he is fat
2) he is clumsy
And 3) as the bad guy said, “He is a PANDA!”

The story itself is pretty simple and straightforward. The tortoise Master Oogway has a premonition that the evil snow leopard Tai Lung will escape from prison and return to threaten the Valley of Peace. Oogway orders a formal ceremony to choose a mighty Dragon Warrior who can defeat Tai Lung. Everyone assumes that one of the Furious Five - Tigress, Monkey, Mantis, Viper, and Crane will be chosen for this honor, but Oogway choose Po and gave Po to his own protégé, the red panda Master Shifu, for training.

Master Shifu was less than happy about this as he was the one who had trained the Furious Five. Revolted that Po was chosen instead of his own student, Shifu attempts to make him quit by berating him endlessly. Although he becomes aware of Shifu's intentions, Po endures the abuse willingly for the dream to become something more than the failure he thinks he is. At the same time, Po endears himself to the Five with his good cooking and sense of humor.

Tai Lung finally escaped from prison. While the Five rushed to intercept Tai Lung, Shifu discovers a way to train Po; his love for food! Shifu leads Po to the countryside for an intensive training regime in which Po is offered food as a reward for learning his lessons. With breakfast, lunch and dinner at stake, Po swiftly becomes a skilled kungfu master and defeat Tai Lung in the final showdown.

As I said, the story is nothing you haven’t seen before in countless kungfu movies. What Kung Fu Panda got really right was the humor. The interplay between Po and Master Shifu was excellent and the idea of a big, fat panda training to be a kungfu master was milked for all its worth.

Having said that, some parts of the movie was disappointing. I would like to have seen more of the Furious Five; Jackie Chan had all of 2 lines in the whole movie. The rest of the Five didn’t fare much better.

Overall, the movie was great. With the success of the film, DreamWorks has already outlined a plan for six Kung Fu Panda films. Six films seen like overkill to me but if they all live up to the overall performance of the initial film, count me in.

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