After band rehearsals, I was invited to watch Kung Fu Panda 3 by a visiting friend (I’m already missing you again, Bella!). With all the hype surrounding Batman v Superman and Captain America: Civil War, this movie was not generating much noise the past week. Some people did recommend that I watch it but I am saving my entertainment budget for DC’s attempt to launch their cinematic universe. Fortunately, I got to see Po and his buddies do some Kung Fu in the latest addition to the Dreamworks franchise.
Master Shifu (voiced by Dustin Hoffman) is passing the mantle of teaching to the Dragon Warrior but Jack Black’s character wants nothing to do with it. He plans on sticking to defending the valley from enemies alongside the Furious Five. However, things go south when Master Oogway’s former ally and friend, Kai, returns to the mortal realm to collect the chi of all the Kung Fu masters. Unable to defeat his foe in his current state, Po travels back with his biological father, Li (voiced by Bryan Cranston) to the Secret Panda Village to learn how to master chi. It turns out his dad lied to him and no panda knew how to use chi. Kai tracks him to the village but not before he trains them to fight their enemies. He planned to use Wuxi Finger Hold to beat Kai yet it fails. Instead, he uses it to transport them both to the spirit realm thus saving the village and the valley.
In the spirit realm, Po is defeated by Kai until Li convinces everyone back in the village to help him return by trying to channel their chi. It works and Po is revealed as the true Dragon Warrior. Kai loses to him and all the masters’ chi were restored. Po then returns to the mortal realm but not before speaking with Master Oogway. The wise tortoise lays down his cards and how he decided on choosing the panda as the Dragon Warrior.
Rumour has it that the animation feature is slated for at least three more films. That makes me a bit worried because the story for this is a bit lacking. The story while inspiring is also unoriginal. I wonder how they’ll plot the next ones. Also, there were scenes that were extended to buff the runtime a bit. Having said that, I really enjoy the actors’ voice work especially J.K. Simmons as the villain, Kai, and the other newcomer, Bryan Cranston. We’ve all heard how great Black, Hoffman, and Angelina Jolie (as Tigress) are and it was refreshing to hear a new pair of voices albeit we’re not going to get Simmons’ character again.
I really love the first few minutes of the film because they did a very good job in painting the picture of Po’s dilemma. He was flattered to teach his pals, Monkey (voiced by Jackie Chan), Crane (voiced by David Cross), Tigress, Viper (voiced by Lucy Liu), and Mantis (voiced by Seth Rogen), but he didn’t know how. He was doing quite well protecting the valley and he didn’t see the point of taking the Five under his wing. Their first class was a disaster and the panda felt worse about himself. But that’s where this venture succeeded – instilling a correct self-image. You don’t have to do the things others are good at because you don’t have to and there are stuff that only you can do. The movie also implied something we always repeat in church, ‘You cannot give what you do not have.’ Po can’t teach the way Master Shifu did. He’s not meant to, though.
To cap this off, let me give you five moments I liked in the film:
1.) Son Goku tribute
When the pandas (with Mr. Ping and Tigress) extend their hands towards the blossoms, it really reminded me of the saiyan’s famous strategy. I must admit, though, that receiving energy from fluffy creatures feels better than getting it from humans.
2.) Furious Fight
We’ve seen the masters spar with one another but it’s only in this installment that we see them really duke it out with one another. You can say that it’s not really them because they’ve been turned into jade zombies but it might be the closest thing we’re going to get.
While the village is breathtaking, it’s the presence of the pandas that really suck you in. Mei Mei (voiced by Kate Hudson) and the rest of the bears are just so adorable! There were a lot of great moments with them that I couldn’t pick just one. How do you top a panda that does Kung Fu? A village of pandas doing Kung Fu!
4.) Opening Sequence
One of the reasons I liked the beginning is the battle between Master Oogway and Kai in the spirit realm. Everyone has been probably wondering how badass Shifu’s master is in a fight. Wish granted! The fact that he’s an old turtle just adds up to how baddass he is!
5.) Here comes the Dragon Warrior!
It might be a bad case of deus ex machina but who didn’t love seeing golden Po kicking Kai’s butt? Plus, his line, ‘I am the Dragon Warrior! Get it? You see the giant dragon?’ was awesome! It did remind me of Stephen Chow’s Kung Fu Hustle’s final fight where the Butterfly defeats the Frog but I guess if you’re going to borrow elements from other martial arts films, you’d better go for the whole shebang!
My rating for this movie is 4 out of 5 stars because the action sequences, humour, and characters help me overcome the stuff they ripped off other movies and the lacking story. If there’s a movie you want me to review, please feel free to leave a comment below. Thank you for reading and God bless!