Reviews

Kung Fu Panda 2

4

Hungry for more Chinese-themed CG?

Kung Fu Panda 2 review

Back in 2008, Dreamworks' Kung Fu Panda hit the box office with a well-aimed belly-blow.

A high-concept blend of chop-socky and anthropomorphised CG animals, the film followed Po (voiced by Jack Black) - an oafish panda on a hero's journey to prove himself a master of martial arts.

Surprising even its own studio, Panda came out of nowhere to reap $631m at the worldwide box-office - outstripping the likes of Ice Age and Madagascar, and even Pixar faves like Monsters, Inc. and WALL*E. (Winning over the Chinese with its reverent take on their heritage probably didn't hurt.)

Needless to say, a sequel was almost inevitable.

And so we have the originally titled Kung Fu Panda 2, helmed by first-time feature director Jennifer Yuh (the lady responsible for the stunning, hand-drawn introduction to the first movie). In 3D. But wait, come back - this is far from the cynical cash-in you might expect.

Following the template of all good sequels, Panda 2 retains the charm of the original while offering a more complex story on a much grander scale.

There are two plot strands here: the revelation of Po's adoption ("Your dad's a goose and you're surprised you're adopted?" deadpans Angelina Jolie's Tigress) and the more epic tale of evil warlord Lord Shen (a brilliantly OTT Gary Oldman, clearly having fun in the recording booth).

He's a blade-throwing peacock, trying to take over China with industrious methods and a very big gun: the 'Kaboom Of Doom' of the film's working title.

Imagine The Last Samurai with a menagerie of high-kicking critters instead of Ken Watanabe's katana-wielding warriors. We're not kidding - the story takes in vengeful grudge matches and even genocide as Po learns the sinister truths of his past...

But while there are some much darker shades to this sequel, there are also plenty of laughs to be had. The scene where Po attempts to find inner peace, only to be bested by some rogue rainwater, is a hilarious piece of animated improv that's up there with the best of Black's physical comedy.

In fact, the eclectic voices are all a perfect fit for their animal counterparts - from returning characters like Dustin Hoffman's Shifu and Jackie Chan's Monkey, to newbies like Michelle Yeoh's goat-like Soothsayer and, in a piece of casting genius, Jean-Claude Van Damme's Master Croc.

Add to that some inspired fight choreography, pixel-perfect animation (every strand of Po's fur is painstakingly rendered) and not-just-there-for-the-sake-of-it 3D, and this is quite possibly the best 'toon since Toy Story 3 - though it's nowhere near as nuanced or poignant as Pixar's Oscar-winning masterpiece.

Some of the action is a little repetitive, for a start, while any members of the Furious Five who aren't voiced by Black or Jolie are somewhat neglected.

Still, this is a chop above the competition - let's hope the inevitable threequel is more Toy Story and less Shrek The Third...

Verdict:

Bigger and better than the original, Panda 2 skilfully avoids the curse of the sequel with wit, flair and a 3D paw to the face. Hii-yah!

Film Details

User Reviews

    • KingofSpain

      May 26th 2011, 14:48

      Good stuff! Looking forward to the blu-ray already.

      Alert a moderator

    • RaveyDaveyGravy

      Jun 7th 2011, 9:15

      3

      I was slightly disappointed in it, I thought that while the scale and animation are both ramped up the whit of the first 1 which made it such a charm was missing. Enjoyable but nothing nearly as special as the first

      Alert a moderator

    • glegs

      Jul 3rd 2011, 7:30

      3

      I loved the first although this one is even funnier with better and more action scenes. And it has Gary Oldman, which automatically makes it awesome.

      Alert a moderator

    • herrysmart

      Aug 2nd 2011, 5:58

      thats an awesome movie really entertaining movie...........

      Alert a moderator

    • luke100

      Apr 13th 2012, 23:57

      2

      Remember those times you crack a funny and the whole party laughs? Then you go in for another rib tickler and your whole street cred is gone? Well this is the latter. Bigger and better? Smaller and rubbish-ier. Bad guy has a weapon and panda needs to stop it. Emotion swagger involves the bad guy killing his parents in a cool anime cut scene. Then they stop the weapon with thumb tacked on jokes that echo the original. This ain't great. Neither is the word 'swagger.' That's why they are both in here.

      Alert a moderator

    • eugenerobinson

      Jun 20th 2012, 15:45

      3

      Very Funny but nothing special.. New documentary announcement! A biography on the life of World renowned grandmaster Pui Chan. Step into the extraordinary life of a Chinese immigrant who overcame the challenges to achieve the American dream. This biography follows the path of a young boy who learns the value of hard work and perseverance through kung fu training. He escapes the harshness of political oppression, bravely ventures out on his own, and embraces opportunity in a new land. The now highly recognized Grandmaster Pui Chan is one of the pioneers responsible for bringing traditional kung fu to America. He built the first kung fu temple in America, and leads an internationally renowned martial arts system across the world. Pui's eldest daughter and successor Mimi Chan confronts a new set of challenges, trying to keep the traditional values alive in an increasingly modernized era. If this sounds interesting please visit, www.Facebook.com/puichankungfupioneer and www.wahlum.com/kungfumovie

      Alert a moderator

Most Popular