The animation bar has been raised once again with Kung Fu Panda, an expertly crafted and hilarious film by Dreamworks, who are sure to give Pixar a run for their money if they continue to churn out films of this calibre.
Jack Black – who has found the perfect medium for his hyper personality – stars as Po, a lazy and over weight Panda whose dreams of becoming a kung-fu warrior are brought down to Earth after he is burdened with his father’s (James Hong) noodle restaurant.
Po aspires to become apart of the “Furious Five”, a band of martial arts warriors that features Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Monkey (Jackie Chan), Mantis (Seth Rogen), Viper (Lucy Liu), and Crane (David Cross). They have all been trained by Shifu (Dustin Hoffman, who exudes wisdom as the kung fu master).
After the notorious martial arts villain Tai Lung (voiced by Deadwood actor Ian McShane, whose successfully portrays his character as the snarling embodiment of evil) escapes from prison, a “Dragon Warrior” must be chosen to wield limitless power and take on Tai Lung. To everyone’s surprise Po turns out to be the chosen one, and now the most unlikely of heroes must prove his worth.
There is so much fun and laughter to be had with Kung Fu Panda. A sharp sense of humour – which thankfully does not resort to pop culture gags – is ever present from the word go, as Loony Toons slapstick madness combines with martial arts spectacle to give way to some wonderfully funny scenes, among them a chopstick standoff between Po and Shifu over a dumpling, and several other fight scenes which transcend its animation bubble.
For a family film the script is rather deep with its Asian philosophical leanings and talk of destiny; the films oriental flavour is enhanced by John Powell’s and Hans Zimmer’s Eastern tinged score; and the animation is brimming with a dazzling display of colour and 3D graphics.
Kung-Fu Panda is exceptionally good entertainment sure to entertain adults and well as children, and gives the animation genre a new challenge in terms of bettering itself.