Saturday, September 12, 2015

Movie #327: Kung Fu Panda

Kung Fu Panda is an animated movie starring the voices of Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Lucy Liu, Jackie Chan, Angelina Jolie, Seth Rogen, David Cross, Ian McShane, Randall Duk Kim, and James Hong. It was nominated for a Best Animated Feature Oscar but lost (deservedly) to Wall*E.

Po (Black) is a panda who lives with his adoptive father (Hong, playing a goose who proudly makes noodle soup), and is fanboyishly obsessed with kung fu. In particular, he's agog over the Furious Five, a team of kung fu warriors comprised of Monkey (Chan), Viper (Liu), Tigress (Jolie), Crane (Cross), and Mantis (Rogen), all trained by a red panda called Shifu (Hoffman).

Po crosses paths with these masters when he is chosen as the mythical "Dragon Warrior" by Oogway (Kim), the ancient tortoise who discovered kung fu. He is, of course, something of a scrub; he's too fat and out of shape to learn kung fu the way the others have been taught. But time is a problem - the evil Tai Lung (McShane) is returning to the Valley with the intent of destroying it and becoming the Dragon Warrior by force.

From there it's a pretty standard "Chosen One" story; of course Po learns kung fu, becomes the Dragon Warrior, and learns it's not about a secret magical scroll, it's about being willing to do the work. I can get behind that. If anything about the movie annoys me, it's that the Furious Five kinda disappear from the back half of the movie while Po battles Tai Lung. I do appreciate, however, that there is something that makes Po specifically useful against Tai Lung (he's immune to Tai Lung's pressure point attack), and I think it's cool that Po develops his own lumbering fighting style as he trains.

Anyway, it's a cute movie. I don't remember enjoying the sequel as much; I think it felt busy.

My grade: B+
Rewatch value: Medium-high

Next up: L.A. Confidential