Kung Fu Panda Review

Thanks for checking out our Kung Fu Panda review. I still remember way back in 2005 when I first heard about Kung Fu Panda I thought it was a pathetic idea. My thoughts had to do with 2 things… the concept and using Jack Black. Both I thought were terrible ideas that seemed to me to lend themselves to yet another cookie cutter, annoying, cheap and witless animated film (non-pixar) that would just rely on fart jokes, burp jokes, fart jokes and basically any simple little thing it takes to amuse 10 year old kids (which is just about anything) without bother to put any quality story telling or themes or idea into it. Just have Jack Black talk in outrageous tones, flash some pretty colors and have Po (that’s the name of the Panda) fart.

Yes, I thought I could already see the entire movie playing itself out in my head just from hearing the concept alone. So off I went to see Kung Fu Panda the other day. Was I correct in my first impressions? Actually… no I wasn’t. It’s actually not a bad film at all.

THE GENERAL IDEA

The synopsis for Kung Fu Panda looks something like this: “A clumsy panda bear becomes an unlikely kung fu hero when a treacherous enemy spreads chaos throughout the countryside in this animated martial arts adventure featuring the voices of Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, and Jackie Chan. On the surface, Po (voice of Black) may look like just another portly panda bear, but beneath his fur he bears the mark of the chosen one. By day, Po works faithfully in his family’s noodle shop, but by night he dreams of becoming a true master of the martial arts. Now an ancient prophecy has come to pass, and Po realizes that he is the only one who can save his people from certain destruction. With time running short and malevolent snow leopard Tai Lung (Ian McShane ) closing in, Furious Five legends Tigress (Jolie), Crane (David Cross ), Mantis (Seth Rogen), Viper (Lucy Liu), Monkey (Chan), and their wise sensei, Master Shifu (Hoffman), all draw on their vast knowledge of fighting skills in order to transform a lumbering panda bear into a lethal fighting machine. Now, if the noble Po can master the martial arts and somehow transform his greatest weaknesses into his greatest strengths, he will fulfill his destiny as the hero who saved his people during their darkest hour.”

THE GOOD

“The most important element” in any film will vary according to its genre. For a film like Kung Fu Panda clearly the most important element it needed to pull off was comedy. If a film like this one doesn’t make you laugh… then there isn’t much left to fall back on. Thankfully the movie succeeds quite well on this level. I can’t recall any more than 1 hard belly laugh (usually a decent comedy needs much more than that), but it felt like it at least always had me smiling or giggling through the run time. Almost none of the joke were home runs… but then did all work. The end result was I found myself entertained almost all the way through.

Coming up with a good villain in a kids film is no easy task. The character has to be menacing, but at the same time you can’t give kids nightmarish visions and make them crap themselves. I mean come on… it’s Kung Fu Panda… you can’t exactly have Violator (from the Spawn comics) showing up can causing kids across the nation to spontaneously crap themselves in their theater seats… then requiring therapy for the next 3 years to make the nightmares go away! It is a fine and delicate balance… and the villain in Kung Fu Panda, Tai Lung, was PERFECT. He was certainly menacing… but at the same time easy enough for the kids to handle without needing pampers. I think the presence of such a villain really helped the film work.

Doing good action in an animated film is also no easy task. I mean, it’s easy enough to DO… just not so easy to do WELL. However, Kung Fu Panda and the folks at Dreamworks really did pull of some BEAUTIFUL animation with complex yet extremely smooth kung fu fighting that was a treat to watch. It was also a lot of fun seeing how each character had a totally different fighting style in keeping with which animal they were. I mean come on… how on earth do you animate a snake doing Kung Fu and have it look cool? Well… they found a way!

THE BAD

There isn’t a lot to complain about in this movie, but I will raise a couple of issues. First of all, some of the voice casting felt completely wrong. I worship the ground Dustin Hoffman walks on… but him as the voice of the sage Chinese Kung Fu master that trains the furious 5 and Po??? It just didn’t fit. Seth Rogen as one of the furious 5? I hope I’m not just being picky… but whenever these guys spoke (especially Rogen) it just kinda pulled me out of the movie. It was just really conspicuous.

I would have liked to have seen more about the furious 5 characters (the tiger, crane, monkey, viper and the mantis. I think Jackie Chan had like 2 lines… but I mean more in the sense of seeing even just a 2 minute segment of where they each came from and how they ended up at the temple in the first place. Not a major complaint… but it did keep popping into my head as I was watching it.

OVERALL

Contrary to my initial impressions, Kung Fu Panda ends up being a funny (not outright hilarious), exciting, well animated and beautiful to look at movie that both kids and yes, even adults will enjoy. Some poor voice casting and a few character left without being fleshed out much didn’t become major distractions to enjoying the movie. Could have taken or left Jack Black as the lead voice… but he didn’t detract from the film in anyway. It’s no Pixar film… but very good nonetheless. Overall I give Kung Fu Panda a 7.5 out of 10.

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52 thoughts on “Kung Fu Panda Review

  1. Best animated movie I’ve watched so far.

    First watched it on a 747 jumbo jet(forcibly) and I was in tears and embarrased! Very touching and funny at the same time. Now I got the musical score too.

  2. The movie was awesome!!!!!! I am a teenager and most people say it is only for young kids but boy are you wrong. It is captivating to all ages. Now I admit it i was kind of dragged into the movie but so glad I was. Are family later purchased the movie and are watching it every night. KUNG FU PANDA ROX R SOX!!!!!!!!!!!♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

  3. Does anyone know the quote the turtle made about past, present, and future? It was when he was giving Po the prep talk while he was eating the peaches from the Sacred Peach Tree of Heavenly Wisdom. I really liked it and would like to be able to research the quote.

    Thanks

  4. Great film, entertained and amused myself and my 9 year old son.

    I asked my son what the moral was when we came out, not expecting the reply…. “to believe in yourself”

    Excellent.

  5. @M William Anderson
    Sir, The statement that you (or rather your godson) have made was wonderful. I guess, that is basically kinda of the basic message behind every Disney-Pixar movie. Just leaves that warm fuzzy feeling (along with just the right amount of laughter). DP rocks! :)

  6. (Type your comment here. Make sure you’ve read the commenting rules before doing so)
    i loved it…quite funny and awesome animation……..can repeat the movie

  7. Well, as the godfather to two little boys – one who’s ten, and the other is seven – I have to say it was a great movie; both for the boys who were excited and entertained, and for me as someone who is trying hard to make sure they are taught important life lessons.

    It’s all too easy to deride movies like this until you see the influence that they have on children; look past the martial arts (which the boys were trying to do in the aisle afterwards) and instead consider the words of Drew, the seven-year old, when I put him to bed:

    “I liked Po. He was a nice person, even if he was fat, wasn’t he? And he tried to do good things when the other animals didn’t like him, didn’t he?I like Po because he was a nice person. I want to be like Po.”

    A lesson learned, and though it was learned by a seven year old, perhaps it’s one we could all learn from the movie.

    Anyway, just a different perspective…

  8. I reallly loved this movie. I especially liked the fact that you actually witnessed the Panda’s transformation into becoming a kung-fu master. I was really geared up for this awesome fight between Po and Tai Lung, and it was pretty sweet. I just didn’t expect it to be so very funny. Usually ending fight scenes are pretty dramatic, but never actually comedic. This was actually a breathe of fresh air.

  9. I liked the idea of having they’re backstories, because although Tigress was cool, I don’t know why she was the only one besides Tai Lung with any HINT of backstory. Actually, the way they focoused on Tigress more than any other of the Furious Five, I was bracing myself the entire movie for her to become a love intrest… which I can’t decide if it’s good or bad that she didn’t. Also in backstories: What was with Po’s father? When he was preparing to tell his son “something he should’ve told him a long time ago…” I was expecting some wild adoption story and him being the son of some great warrior…. I know children don’t think so much on what happened BEFORE, but for the adults that watched it I wish they’d dug a little deeper in the past.

    1. thats kinda why its funny, when it sounds like hes going to go into a back story, he ends up telling him the secret ingredient, which was also, the moral of the movie i guess?

  10. This movie was awesome! One of best animated shows ever. Don’t debate watching it, just go see it, you’ll love it.

  11. The animation in this had it’s own style and character and that’s what made it work. I agree that the “actors” of the furious five were wasted and not needed. While it was clear what was going to happen, the journey was enjoyable enough that it didn’t matter. Definately one to watch.

  12. I took my 4 year old granddaughter, we both loved it it didn’t keep her complete interest but she laughed in all the right places

  13. Hey John,
    Why haven’t you written a review for Don’t Mess with the Zohan yet?
    i’m probably not going to waste my money on it but i’m curious what you think.

  14. For the most part I agreed with the review. Well paced, decent humor, solid animation (watch it on DLP or IMAX and you can really see how good it looks), and well acted. Like John said though, it did feel like the Furious Five were just kinda… there. They wasted the talent they had by not really giving them a lot to work with. It felt mostly like the Black and Hoffman movie, although thankfully they played their parts well. Although I didn’t feel Rogen stood out too badly, Hoffman didn’t really seem like the best part to play Shifu. Whenever I heard his voice, I thought of Pete from those old Disney cartoons (and some new ones). Other than that, it was great.

  15. The movie is so funny! I only watched it because I love pandas and the Asian culture… but I got more than what I expected! Really, really good film! :D

  16. (Type your comment here. Make sure you’ve read the commenting rules before doing so)will everyone liked the movie called the kung fu fighting panada. and it is good. and you guys should watch it would make you laugh.

  17. Ok, I loved this movie. I liked this movie more than Indiana Jones or Iron Man.

    And I actually enjoyed Iron man quite a lot. Yeah it’s a kids movie, shocking how something advertised for children, from a company that consistently produces childrens movies would be for children…we should definitley hold that against it. Those darn children, getting to have movies made for them too like they’re also people.

    If you’re looking for something deep thats going to make you feel like you’re an intellectual, no probably not the movie for you…probably not the genre for you, in fact, Bruce…you should probably not be commenting on it at all. I don’t like rap, I don’t go single out rap albums and say they’re awful and stupid.

    Kung-fu panda was really funny, and if you don’t like CG flicks you’ll hate it I’m sure(though I’m not sure what your logic is there…but uh…it is definitley a CG flick…)

  18. narr i havent seen it i wont see it ever, you have all been marketed to, i wanna no what people mean when they say the animation was great? what does that mean coming from a cgi flick? it was smooth and fast?

  19. i watched it on a ts version torrent…i liked it and thought it was cute
    ……and yes it was made for kids…so dont cry if u didnt like it and your 55….your used to disney 101 and thats not gonna cut it with the kids today…sorry get over it..your old hahahaha prepare to die soon =)

  20. Bruce from the comment list must of not seen the movie! I saw in the IMAX and it was all full of awesomeness lol. It was a solid animation film.

  21. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of Dreamwork’s bland paint-by-numbers animation, but this movie was pretty solid, with well done action/fight scenes along with well told, if somewhat predictable, story.

    Seeing the fights scenes only made me long for even more hard hitting animated fight scenes, I can only hope Warner Bros has seen the light and makes TMNT 2 a PG-13 film.

  22. This movie looked like a bag of shit but I was dragged in last night and it was wonderful, top class entertainment.

    Doug Nagy would love this movie (but he doesn’t know it yet).

  23. I saw it yesterday and thought it was HILARIOUS. It was funny and the animation was superb! Jack Black was really good as the voice of Po. I’m 95% sure that I’ll see it again in the coming weeks.

  24. Whats well animated mean? that its big budget?

    You should say.

    The good – You survived another bland money making cgi kids flick, littered with celebs and zippy snap to pose animation.

    The Bad – The film.

    Overall – Dont watch because they will then make another one.

    1. your an asshole i like that movie i think its good for all people in the family. who doesnt like a fat panda with the voice of jack black.

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