Kung Fu Panda 3: As fantastic as the first two

Published: March 14, 2016

With the release of Kung Fu Panda 3, viewers went on another adventure with Po (Jack Black) and his friends, Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman), Master Viper (Lucy Liu), Master Monkey (Jackie Chan), Master Mantis (Seth Rogen), Master Crane (David Cross) and others.

Some animated characters remain with us even after years of their first appearance in a movie. Case in point: Po, the fun-loving Kung Fu fighting panda – the antagonist of the Kung Fu Panda franchise. Even after Po’s debut appearance, in the first part of the Kung Fu Panda movie series in 2008, the series still have novel offerings for the audience with each of the sequels that followed.

With the release of Kung Fu Panda 3, viewers went on another adventure with Po (Jack Black) and his friends, Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman), Master Viper (Lucy Liu), Master Monkey (Jackie Chan), Master Mantis (Seth Rogen), Master Crane (David Cross) and others.

Photo: Santa Banta

Entertainingly, the producers and writers have managed to keep not just the stories of all three editions of the Kung Fu Panda movies different, they have slickly ensured to keep the movies visually appealing and gripping, without it becoming a drag.

Kung Fu Panda 3 begins with Po realising his dream of becoming the master of Jade Palace, which he has inherited from the retired Master Shifu. He discovers, however, that teaching Kung Fu is hard when, as a result, the Furious Five members are injured. Po is left dispirited as a teacher, but is advised by Master Shifu to be himself.

One day, Po heads to his father, Mr Ping’s (James Hong), noodle shop where a panda named Li Shan (Bryan Cranston) breaks Po’s dumpling-eating record. Both soon learn that Li is Po’s biological father and they bond with each other much to Ping’s jealousy. Previously, Li Shan appeared in Po’s flashback memory in Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011); this time he has a larger role in the movie. Po, then, visits the secret panda village with his father and learns about his history.

Photo: Screenshot

However, Po does not realise that in his absence from the Valley of Peace, an evil warrior, Kai (JK Simmons), has escaped from the spirit world and is stealing the ‘chi’ of all the warriors living in Po’s valley. Kai’s next target is the panda village. It is up to Po now to beat Kai, and to teach every one Kung Fu, after all, he is the Dragon Warrior and Master Shifu’s successor.

Will Po be able to train everyone?

Will he transfer all of his knowledge before Kai returns?

Kung Fu Panda 3 has carried on the tradition of hilarious one-liners and dialogues that keep the audience chortling. Two such scenes in the movie are hilarious; first when Po meets his father for the first time and the village animals are anticipating that Li Shan will recognise Po because there is no other panda living in the valley. And the second is when Po first meets Kai. You do not want to miss these two scenes, so make sure you buy the popcorn and snacks in advance.

Photo: Screenshot

A major twist awaits viewers at the climax of the movie – something that will bring tears to the eyes. Whether they will be tears of joy or sorrow is for me to know and you to find out.

DreamWorks Animation has done a fantastic job with the animations, especially the panda village with its lush green hills, mountains, and the picture-perfect natural landscape.

Photo: Screenshot

Although Kung Fu Panda 3 has a different story with the main characters experiencing new adventures, the movie also promises a handful of déjà vu moments. I believe Kung Fu Panda 3 is the best movie in the franchise for many reasons. After two movies, Po finally meets his father and his fellow pandas. This can create a new story for a fourth sequel or a spinoff series focusing on Po and his family. Second, Kai is perhaps the strongest of all the villains Po has faced so far. In the first part of the franchise, Po fought Tai Lung, a snow leopard who was seeking revenge for his imprisonment in Kung Fu Panda (2008). And in the second part, Kung Fu Panda 2, it was Lord Shen, a peacock who killed Po’s family with his feathers. However, in Kung Fu Panda 3, the evil Tai, a yak, is a spirit warrior who can capture chi from any warrior, leaving them defenceless. This means Po has to dig deep inside to teach everyone Kung Fu and understand his own potential to defeat Tai.

While facing Tai, Po has another personal issue; his two fathers both pulling in different directions. Po will have to balance his two fathers at a time when Tai is heading towards the panda village.

Photo: Screenshot

Kung Fu Panda 3 is the perfect weekend movie. Jack Black’s swift dialogue delivery, Dustin Hoffman’s sober voice for Master Shifu, JK Simmons’ evil personification of Tai, and Bryan Cranston’s deep voice of Li Shan add meaning and depth into the characters and the story. Watch this movie if you are a Jack Black fan or if you want to have a good time. Kung Fu Panda 3 will not disappoint you at all. In fact, I can bet you will enjoy every second of it! Skadoosh!!!

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Muhammad Omar Iftikhar

The author is a freelance writer and blogger and writes for various English dailies of Pakistan. He tweets @omariftikhar (twitter.com/omariftikhar)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.