KUNG FU PANDA 3 (2016)

Genre: CG Animation
Director: Jennifer Yuh Nelson and Alessandro Carloni
Cast: Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Dustin Hoffman, Kate Hudson, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu, David Cross, James Hong, Randall Duk Kim, Bryan Cranston, J.K. Simmons
Runtime: 1 hr 35 mins
Rating: PG
Released By: 20th Century Fox
Official Website: http://www.kungfupandamovies.com.sg

Opening Day: 10 March 2016

Synopsis: In 2016, one of the most successful animated franchises in the world returns with its biggest comedy adventure yet, KUNG FU PANDA 3. When Po's long-lost panda father suddenly reappears, the reunited duo travels to a secret panda paradise to meet scores of hilarious new panda characters. But when the supernatural villain Kai begins to sweep across China defeating all the kung fu masters, Po must do the impossible—learn to train a village full of his fun-loving, clumsy brethren to become the ultimate band of Kung Fu Pandas!

Movie Review:

After a four years hiatus, everyone’s favourite dumplings-munching, kung fu fighting Po the Panda (Jack Black) is back to continue his spiritual journey. This time he is searching for the mysterious “Qi” (energy flow in short) to save Master Sifu (Dustin Hoffman) and everyone residing in the mortal realm.

Probably to spice things up a little, the third instalment instills a supernatural element in the form of a villainous spirit warrior, Kai (J.K. Simmons in an unrecognizable voice mode). Kai happens to be the ex-buddy of Grand Master Oogway (Randall Duk Kim) and after the latter banished him to the spiritual world, Kai vows to seek revenge on the remaining Masters so that he could harvest their “Qi”. With no one particularly powerful to stand in Kai’s way, there’s only our dear dragon warrior, Po left to rely on. Will he master the way of “Qi” and save the villagers and his friends?

Regular franchise writers Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger returned once again to craft a heartwarming story filled with laughs, tears and a cuddly message about family and friends. The third instalment is neither talky or overbloated which explains the slim 93 minutes running time and best of all, it fits genuinely well into the series with all the wicked references and backstory. It’s so Chinese and Kung Fu oriented that it easily crushes Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon 2 and this is an animation we are talking about.

Kung Fu Panda 3 continues where Part 2 has left us. The million dollar question of where’s Po’s biological father is answered right here. His father happens to call Li and the character is voiced by the amazing Bryan Cranston. The long overdue reunion brought Po back to the secret Panda village where he was born and coincidentally this is also the place where Oogway master the way of the “Qi” hundreds of years ago. Now you know why Oogway chose Po as the dragon warrior. See he is definitely not senile.

Despite the danger on hand, Po continues to be the misfit that generously dispensed doses of wicked humour. He still plays with his action figures while in the bathtub, behaving more liked an apprentice than a teacher and his frequent retorts are hilarious. Expectedly, the rest of his fellow Furious Five members are left to the sideline and that includes the usual prolific Tigress (Angelina Jolie). Rom-com star Kate Hudson stepped in at the last minute to replace Rebel Wilson as the ribbon dancing Mei Mei, a character assumed to be the love interest for Po but seems to have a change of mind towards the end. Watch out for Mr. Ping (James Hong), the business-minded goose/adoptive father of Po who manages to get a few funny lines.

This first major collaboration with Oriental DreamWorks boasts incredibly rich visual and details, certainly surpassing DreamWorks’ recent works such as Home and Penguins of Madagascar. Pay attention to all the jade amulets created by the evil Kai and I’m petty sure you will be awed by how authentic it looks on the giant screen. Overall, the stylistic Oriental designs are pure eye candy and the hand-painted drawings on the scrolls are remarkable.    

For churning out yet another worthwhile outing featuring our lovable fumbling hero, directors Jennifer Yuh Nelson and her co-director Alessandro Carloni should be complimented for accomplishing such an incredulous task. It’s both funny and exciting and absolutely the perfect title for the entire family. There are three more chapters to go as promised by DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg. If they are as good as this, sign all of us up right away!

Movie Rating:

(Inner peace? We can master that later, it’s time to catch Kung Fu Panda 3!)

Review by Linus Tee


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