Review – Kung Fu Panda 2

Movies are the world’s reference for self-defense, if someone attacks you in the street; you’re not going to recall the personal safety seminar your work put on during lunch. Instead you’re going to do your best Bruce Lee impersonation throwing fists of fury until your attacker admits defeat, or simply runs away because they’re freaked out by the interpretive dance display. Get ready to add a new list of moves to your arsenal with ‘Kung Fu Panda 2’ that picks up from where the first film left off. Poh (Jack Black) is enjoying his new life as the dragon warrior protecting Peace Valley with the help of the furious five – Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Crane (David Cross), Mantis (Seth Rogen), Viper (Lucy Liu) and Monkey (Jackie Chan). When Poh’s kung fu master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) receives word master thundering rhino (Victor Garber), leader of the kung fu council protecting Gongmen City, has been killed, the team must fight the evil Lord Shen (Gary Oldman) who has developed a powerful weapon with plans to use it to rule China and destroy kung fu forever. ‘Kung Fu Panda 2’ fails to match the might of the first film but is still a lot of fun. Great action, superb animation and the voice work of Jack Black make this film a winner.

Visually ‘Kung Fu Panda 2’ is stunning and the animators have done a great job of using different animation styles to tell the story. The film starts with a prologue that is told using animation that resembles a combination of shadow puppets and traditional paper/wire puppets. The standard computer animation used in most films dominates the screen time but it often switches to traditional hand drawn animation that resembles tradition Chinese paintings come to life. The different styles are beautifully executed and give the film a personality that makes it stand out from other animated films on offer. Adding to the beauty of the animation are epic fight scenes where the characters take on hundreds of different foes and dispatch them in creative ways. Despite the fact that the film has the advantage of being animated, most of the action scenes put live action films to shame.

A lot of ‘Kung Fu Panda 2’ rests on the voice work of Jack Black and he doesn’t drop the dumpling. Black injects a lot of his own personality into the character which may annoy people who are members of the ‘He-man Jack Black haters club’, but it works. Black injects a lot of humour and enthusiasm into the film, the guy provides enough energy to power a small village and helps elevate the film above stock standard kiddie flicks. All the supporting voice cast work well with the exception of Angelina Jolie who sounds half asleep while delivering all her lines. A lot of emphasis is put on Jolie for her looks and that’s the reason most people fork out cash to see her films, so why even bother casting her as an animated character? The highlight of all the voice casting was the inclusion of Jean-Claude Van Damme who cameos as a butt kicking crocodile who does the splits! Another nice touch in the film was the way it parodies elements of action films. There is an action set piece that takes place in a steel mill very similar to the one featured in the finale of ‘Terminator 2: Judgement Day’ and it riffs on one of the films famous scenes that gets big laughs.

‘Kung Fu Panda 2’ is missing some of the wonder of the first film and can be a tad repetitive as it goes from fight scene to fight scene. There is just the right amount of humour and action to keep little kids and big kids entertained, just be prepared to take a couple of sly kicks to the shin from your young nephew after he sees it.


The Popcorn Junkie