Kung Fu Panda

2008-09-25 15:05
What it's about:

Overweight panda Po (Jack Black) is a fan of kung fu, but is expected to follow in his father's footsteps and sell noodles for the family business. When he hears that a new dragon warrior is to be chosen by Master Oogway (Randall Duk Kim), he shirks his duties to go and see the ceremony. Much to his amazement and the anger of the kung fu fraternity, he is chosen by Oogway to be trained by kung fu teacher Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) and defend the valley against the vicious Tai Lung (Ian McShane) – a former pupil of Shifu, who wants to steal the secrets of the dragon warrior for his own glory.

What we thought of it:

Overhyped, celebrity voiced animated movies about sassy animals playing out well worn stories have always been a gamble. On one hand you have Shrek (2001, 2004 and 2007), which equalled all the post modern references with genuine humour and heart, and on the other hand you have Happily Never After (2007), which was a lazy, self-indulgent mess with no redeeming features. Luckily Kung Fu Panda lives up to the hype and is one of those rare films that deliver on all levels.

The generic underdog-saves-the-day plot has been stuffed full of jokes, ranging from the most basic physical humour to some pretty smart set ups aimed at the grown ups. There are also a few very exciting combat and action sequences that combine anime stylings with the usual 3D fare, giving Kung Fu Panda a distinct look that sets it apart from Pixar. The most notable achievement, however, is the extremely sharp script and swift pacing that leave other enjoyable movies like Surf's Up (2007) and Ice Age (2002 and 2006) in the dust.

Jack Black gives quite a restrained performance as Po, channelling his inner awestruck child rather than the screaming lunatic he so often plays, making Po all the more sympathetic and lovable. This leaves some space for his co-stars to shine, and there are excellent performances from Randall Duk Kim as the infuriatingly calm Oogway and Dustin Hoffman as stressed kung fu teacher Shifu. The chemistry between these two make for some hilarious scenes by turning some old kung fu movie clichés on their heads.

The beautiful thing about Kung Fu Panda is that it's funny and exciting for its entire running time and above that there are many stand out moments that will have you falling out of your chair from an abundance of belly laughs. It's basically an excellent holiday movie that can be enjoyed un-ironically by even the most jaded hipster as well as your toddler. Unless you have no sense of humour or a heart of stone, this is highly recommended.

- Ivan Sadler

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A fat, young panda is named as the legendary dragon warrior who will lead a crack team of kung fu fighters and defend his valley against the evil Tai Lung.

AtraBilious 2008/06/27 10:04 AM
I agree... although they could have done more with the smaller roles (Jackie Chan has, like, one line in the entire movie, and they may as well have hired Philip Seymour Hoffman to do the snake's voice). They should stop hiring stars for this kind of thing and get proper voice artists to do things. What's Hank Azaria's number, dammit?
THE BOSS 2008/07/07 9:20 AM
Great Movie Now on this one, i have to agree with you Ivan. An excellent movie that both the kids and adults will enjoy. Lots of Fun...a great stress reliever
YTAH 2008/07/11 9:27 AM
Let me guess, BOSS... You get paid by an advertising company to go online and pretend to be a real human being, right? Shouldn't you be calling yourself Pinocchio instead?
THE BOSS 2008/07/14 10:56 AM
YTAH 2008/07/14 2:33 PM
You can laugh, "boss"... you still haven't convinced me you're a real boy.
Kim 2008/07/14 3:09 PM
Sic A very very funny movie, but let's face it - are you all not just a little sick of animal movies. The recipe is so yawn it is sad. Whether dreamworks or pixar it is about time we had something as fresh as a Shrek concept again - Give me ONE good animated movie without animals PLEASE!!!!!!
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