Kung Fu Panda Review

When I heard there was going to be a movie with a panda, and kung fu, and Jack Black, I wasn’t entirely enthusiastic about seeing the film. In fact, I absolutely loathed the idea of even sitting in the theater just to tolerate 90 minutes of it. However, when I sat down, and the movie started, I found myself glued to my seat with the action sequence at the start of the movie, compounded with the astounding realistic display that only The IMAX Experience can bring. It was at that moment I said to myself, Kung Fu Panda might be a decent flick. And sure enough, I was right. Jack Black gave a wondrous performance as the main character, and heightened the level of excitement in a kid's movie so that kids of all ages can really enjoy. Its colorful setting, stylish comedy, phenomenal action scenes, strong subtle message of believing in yourself is a powerful combination that will put you in awe, laugh hysterically, cheer in excitement, and lift your spirits.

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Jack Black plays Po, a panda bear who works in his fathers noodle restaurant in ancient china. In his heart, Po believed that he was destined for more than just working in his fathers shop. He’s the typical nerdy kid that gets a major kick when he hears about his favorite celebs. In this case, it’s the Furious Five; five animals that make up the five kung fu fighting styles: Tigress – Angelina Jolie, Crane – David Cross, Monkey – Jackie Chan, Viper -- Lucy Liu, and Mantis – Seth Rogen. They live in the temple high in the mountains, just above the village, along with their master sensei Shifu – Dustin Hoffman.

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Shifu’s master Oogway – Randall Duk Kim prophesizes the evil Tai Lung – Ian McShane, will escape prison to steal the Dragon Scroll. It is then Oogway must choose a new Dragon Warrior to fight off Tai Lung and save the village. Of course, everyone expected one of the Furious Five to be chosen, but to the people’s dismay, Po drops in in the midst of Oogway choosing a Warrior, and he chooses Po. Not by accident, not by mistake because according to Oogway, there is no mistake. Oogway gives the responsibility of training Po to Shifu. Oogway is like this Yoda character, mysterious and wise, and can sense what will happen in the future. He tells Shifu that in the end, Po will defeat Tai Lung, and Shifu will smile once again, being the grumpy old master that he is.

There wasn’t a lot of focus on the Furious Five. In fact, there was minimal interaction between them and the other characters. For such big name actors like Jolie, Rogen, Chan, and Liu, I would have presumed more lines in the movie. It looks like these characters were kept reserved purposely. I think there interaction in the film was just enough to wet the palate, and satisfy you. The Furious Five did have a kick ass fight scene against Tai Lung. They were at a bridge crossing when Tigress and Tai Lung started of the action sequence, then the other 4 jump in and helped. At first, they were successful in keeping Tai Lung across the bridge, but he manages to swing across, and nerve pinches all of them frozen. You know what I’m talking about, that 1070’s kung fu master type pinch that immobilizes your opponent. That’s right, I went back to the 70’s. BRUCE LEE FO’ LIFE BITCHES!!!!!

In the end, it all leads up to the final fight between Po and Tai Lung. Po realizes the secret the Dragon Scroll holds, and uses that as his power against Tai Lung. Ultimately, Po beats Tai Lung, not from his taught lessons from Master Shifu, but from something else, his big belly, and determination.

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The Good:

There is not much that is bad about Kung Fu Panda. The Tai Lung escape scene from prison was awesome. The way he used the feather to pick the lock and his kung fu skill to fight off all the prison guards. The entire scene flowed without flaw.

The fight scene between the Furious Five, and Tai Lung had me strapped to my seat. Tigress rushes onto the bridge and holds her own against Tai Lung. Not too long after, she starts to lose her fight, and the other 4 rush in to help. With the effort of all 5 teammates, they were able to temporarily defeat Tai Lung. However, he was able to swing across and immobilize the Furious Five.

The message of not giving up and believing in you makes Kung Fu Panda one of the best cartoon movies of all time.

The sheer fact that Dreamworks blessed us with an IMAX version of Kung Fu Panda, heightened the joy of watching the movie to new levels. It was visually stunning and aurally immersive watching this CGI masterpiece on the giant screen. If you truly want to experience Kung Fu Panda in all its glory, then definitely, absolutely see it in IMAX. No small screen will do.

The comedic interaction between Jack Black, and Dustin Hoffman, were treasured moments. Never would I have thought these two would make such a great team. The banter going back and forth was almost as classic as Ralph Kramden and Ed Norton, Abbott and Costello, Laurel and Hardy. If Black and Hoffman ever do a movie together, I’ll be the first one on line.

The final fight scene between Po and Tai Lung is my runner up. Po starts to get his ass kicked, but then imagines his opponent and the Dragon Scroll as food, and he’s able to use that as his ability to defeat Tai Lung. He begins to believe in himself, and outsmarts Tai Lung with his obesity and kung fu skill.

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My winner is the training scene between Shifu and Po. Shifu realizes when Po looks for food, his martial arts skill comes out. Shifu uses this as his technique in training Po, and ultimately teaches Po kung fu. Shifu uses dumplings as a way to get Po to start learning. Shifu would tease Po with a dumpling, Po would go for it, and Shifu would whack him with a stick. This goes back and forth until Po starts to learn to defend himself. At the end of the training, Po and Shifu fight for the last of the dumplings, and Po ends up winning the last of all the dumplings, signifying that his training had been completed.

As far as I’m concerned, the training scene is the best scene of the entire movie.

The Bad:

There isn’t much in terms of a bad here. If I had to pick on one thing, it would have been a love interest. To keep cliché and make a movie rounded, a love interest would have been a good idea. As you can see, I’m not emphasizing much, just a love interest.

The Ugly:

The fact that I didn’t get Al Roker’s autograph or picture. The man sat 5 rows down from me, and I even spoke to him. But did I get a picture? OH HELL NO!!!!...that’s how dumb I am!

Really, if you can, try to catch Kung Fu Panda in IMAX. Though you'll enjoy the movie in normal theaters regardless, The IMAX Experience will put you alongside Po while he's taken through his trials and tribulations throughout the movie.

A great way to tell if a movie is fabulous….check out the seats. If you see a bunch of kids fidgeting and looking restless, that’s your signal the flick is boring as hell. A great movie is a movie that can hold the attention span of any child or adult. You find kids in their seats quiet, you will find a great movie. I found a great movie, Kung Fu Panda!

I’m giving this 4.5 out of 5 stars. It’s been Krush Tested, TOV Approved!