The new adventures of Po -- the Dragon Warrior panda bear -- and the Furious Five (now six) has arrived in the sequel to the very successful Kung Fu Panda. This new adventure pits our heroes against Lord Shen, a peacock who is out to destroy Kung Fu and rule China.
Lord Chen was the heir to a throne when he learned of a prophecy that spoke of a panda bear defeating him. Set to alter his fate Chen murdered all the pandas in the land, including Po’s family, thus answering the question of why Po’s father is a goose. Armed with a powerful new weapon Chen looks to complete his domination of the land and it is up to our Kung Fu heroes to stop him.
Kung Fu Panda 2 is a fantastic follow up to the original. Much of the success to these movies can be attributed to two factors. First, Po (voiced by Jack Black) is a refreshing hero. Instead of brooding, Po is beside himself with joy to be a member of the Kung Fu team. His knowledge of kung fu history and his enthusiasm in working with his heroes is infectious. Secondly, the writers and filmmakers of the Kung Fu Panda series have a strong knowledge and respect of kung fu films, and this film takes those elements seriously. The way the mythos are handled and the care that is taken with the hand-to-hand combat scenes definitely elevate the art and quality of this series. Kung fu legends Jackie Chan and David Cross add their voices to main characters further paying tribute to kung fu films. This sequel has added Michelle Yeoh and Jean-Claude Van Damme to that list, too, and it’s a classy move.
This sequel is also able to strike a great balance of action and humor too. The laughs are all earned and never steep to pop culture references. In the sequel, relationships are also developed further among the main characters. Tigress and Po are definitely becoming closer. The relationship of student-teacher and father-son Po has with Master Shifu and Ping are also explore more fully.
Although the sequel does explore some dark themes, the filmmakers handle these scenes gracefully allowing the viewers to know what happens without becoming too graphic or disturbing for the younger audience. In fact all of the action and humor is child-friendly while not compromising the excitement and entertainment value for adults. In short, it’s a movie for all ages.
As a side note, this is one of the few movies worth the extra money for 3D. The use of the depth of field is well-utilized and the gimmicky use of the 3D like knives and spears flying toward your face is not overused but well placed.
With the Kung Fu Panda series and How to Train Your Dragon, Dreamworks Animation has really become a consistent producer of top-quality computer animated feature films. Kung Fu Panda 2 has all the heart, adventure and action one could hope for, and they do it in a way that never feels forced. The ending clearly leaves the door open for another sequel, and I for one can’t wait. Kung Fu Panda 2 is a perfect family film and one of the better movies this year.
FILMS LIKE KUNG FU PANDA 2 – Kung Fu Panda, How to Train Your Dragon and The Incredibles
Justin Buettner is Style's resident movie dude! How did he get this role? Well, he graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a Bachelor of Arts in film Production and a duel minor in Animation and Business with an emphasis in the entertainment field. He later went on to work on several independent films in various key roles including writer and later worked in the special effects field as a motion capture artist. He has since relocated to the Sacramento area with his family and continues writing for small independent films in addition to his movie reviews for Style Magazine.
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