movie film review | chris tookey

Kung Fu Panda

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  Kung Fu Panda Review
Tookey's Rating
5 /10
Average Rating
6.69 /10
Voices: , Po: Jack Black
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Directed by: John Stevenson, Mark Osborne
Written by: Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger

Released: 2008
Origin: US
Length: 92

Hardly a knockout, but bright and cheesy fun.
Reviewed by Chris Tookey

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Kung Fu Panda is exactly what you would expect from its title - colourful, fast-moving, brightly animated fun. Its energy and humour should amuse its target audience of children under thirteen. No one’s going to confuse it with a classic, but it’s a cut or two above DreamWorks’ last animated product, Bee Movie.

Jack Black channels a lot of his charm into Po, a roly-poly Chinese panda who’s a fan of kung fu, but too tubby, goofy and accident-prone to be a fighter himself. This noodle-cooking nerd hero-worships the Furious Five fighters who live on the neighbouring mountain: Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Monkey (Jackie Chan), Viper (Lucy Liu), Mantis (Seth Rogen) and Crane (David Cross). But Po is told by his father, who is by some unexplained genetic quirk a goose not to have ideas above his station: “We are noodle folk – broth runs through our veins!”

Nevertheless, it is Po who is unaccountably selected by the ancient kung fu master Oogway (Randall Duk Kim), to lead resistance to a vengeful snow leopard (voiced by Ian McShane) who threatens Po’s Valley of Peace.

Even with instruction from the Furious Five’s resident guru (Dustin Hoffman), it seems improbable that a portly panda can defeat a livid leopard.

The film never fully solves that problem of credibility, and its fortune cookie solution to Po’s lack of kung fu skills (he is simply told to “Be yourself”) seems thin.

The story arc is too predictable for older audiences, the action sequences are rendered less than scary by the fact that no one ever seems to get badly hurt, and the voice-over talent is sorely under-used – apart from Black, only Hoffman and Jolie establish much of a personality.

The main delights lie in a couple of dynamic action sequences, especially the snow leopard’s escape from prison, and occasional flashes of verbal wit that deflate the mysticism of the martial arts genre. Small boys, especially, will enjoy the fighting.

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