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Kung Fu Panda 2

A 2011 movie directed by Jennifer Yuh.

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The Superior Martial Arts Sequel

  • May 29, 2011
Star Rating:

Kung Fu Panda 2 is a deeply involving 3D animated film, although (and this should come as no surprise to you) it has little to do with the 3D, a consistently disappointing process if ever there was one. Firstly, like its 2008 predecessor, it’s simply a lot of fun. There’s sheer exuberance to the characters, the vocal performances, and the animation – the latter especially, since there are plenty of gravity-defying martial arts sequences. I have admittedly been either indifferent or dismissive towards live-action martial arts films, in large part because they seem to be about nothing other than what they so prominently display; for me, a cartoon is the ideal medium for a martial arts movie, for it adds that extra dimension of fantasy. Both Kung Fu Panda movies have been successful in that regard.
Secondly, it achieves what so few sequels have been able to achieve: It outdoes the first film. The story is deeper. The characters are more introspective. There’s a greater sense of development all around. My God – it’s as if the filmmakers actually understood that the purpose of a sequel is to expand on setting, character, and tone, not to keep them stagnant. We’re reunited with Po the panda (voiced by Jack Black), who, in spite of his healthy appetite and rotund build, is living his kung fu dream as the fabled Dragon Warrior. He protects the Valley of Peace along with his friends, collectively known as the Fearsome Five. They are: Tigress (voiced by Angelina Jolie), Viper (voiced by Lucy Liu), Mantis (voiced by Seth Rogen), Monkey (voiced by Jackie Chan), and Crane (voiced by David Cross). They remain under the tutelage of Master Shifu (voiced by Dustin Hoffman), a small but mighty red panda.

The Valley of Peace is under attack by the evil Lord Shen (voiced by Gary Oldman), an albino peacock whose greed and participation in the genocide of pandas got him banished. Now, he has a serious axe to grind. He does not heed the words of his family’s soothsayer (voiced by Michelle Yeoh), an elderly goat who years ago prophesized that a warrior of black and white would destroy him. He believes he’s protected by a weapon of his own design: A canon, which came to be as the result of experiments with gunpowder. This directly affects Po, who finally realizes what most audiences already knew, even during the first movie: The goose that raised him, noodle chef and restaurant owner Mr. Ping (voiced by James Hong), is not his real father. Who were his parents? Where did he come from? How did Mr. Ping come to raise him as his own son?
In order to defeat Shen and save kung fu, Po must work towards inner peace, which is never easy when you don’t even know your own past. Isn’t it interesting how Shen is equally not at peace, and yet he knows his past all too well? The two do not balance themselves out – they’re enemies through and through – although that would have made for a nice symbolic counterpoint, like the yin and yang symbol. As it stands, it only applies to Po, simply because some of his fur is black while the rest of it is white.

We’re treated to some incredible action sequences. My personal favorite is of Po and the Furious Five having to escape Shen’s palace as it collapses. Because the front door is blocked by debris, they’re forced to actually go back up, and we watch in amazement as they summersault along the sides of the building. There’s also a fun moment in which Po chases after one of Shen’s wolf guards while riding a wagon. But he doesn’t merely ride it; he flies over rooftops, soars through the air, zooms around clumps of pedestrian traffic, and glides under a series of signs, all of which slap him upside the head (“So!” Whack! “Many!” Whack! “Signs!” Whack!). As to whether or not the 3D process enhances them, I’ll let you be the judge. You know your theater better than I do. Perhaps the projection is brighter in your neck of the woods.
There are hints of a growing friendship between Po and Tigress, always the more hard-hearted of the Furious Five. I suppose this will eventually lead to a reliable interspecies romance, but let’s take things one at a time. After all, part three has yet to be released. These characters are only a small part of what makes Kung Fu Panda 2 an all-around wonderful film. The animation – a skillful blend of CGI and traditional hand-drawn cels – is boundless in its energy. The scenery, although entirely manufactured by the art directors and layout artists, are breathtaking in their beauty. The dialogue is kid-friendly, but never once does it play dumb. There’s depth to the characters, and yet they also retain a certain amount of delightful cartoon goofiness. It’s a film that the whole family, and not just the kids, will enjoy.


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May 29, 2011
You and I are in total agreement on this one. I liked this one as it remembered to build the Po character, and it wasn't afraid to go a little dark. Right blend of action, drama and comedy (though a bit uneven in humor) with enough depth to keep the mature viewer entertained. Nice work! I saw that you reviewed "Hesher", I'll read it after I see the movie this afternoon...thanks!
May 29, 2011
You're welcome. I'm glad you liked the movie. I don't know what you'll think of Hesher. All I can say is, I didn't like it at all.
More Kung Fu Panda 2 reviews
review by . May 28, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Skadoooshhh!! The Return of Awwwessoommmeee Panda-Monium!!
I have to admit that I was one of those who were pleasantly surprise how “Kung Fu Panda” in 2008 may have surpassed Dreamworks’ much praised animated movie “Shrek”. It was just a piece of creative wonder that combined Chinese martial arts sensibilities, action, quirky comedy and a well-rounded story with Jack Black’s fast-talking humor and eccentricity, enveloped in a good-natured manner. While I was prepared for the worst, (animated movie sequels usually never …
review by . June 28, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
Was I the only one a little disturbed by the scene in the first Kung Fu Panda where Po's father told us the lineage of his noodle stand? You know, where he said he got it from his father, who got it from his father, who got it from his father, who were all geese? And in the fourth picture, the animal was finally changed, but it turned out the stand was won in a game of chance? And we wondered just how Po got to be a Panda? Well, Kung Fu Panda 2 gives the answer to that question.     I …
review by . June 07, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
*** out of ****     When all is said and done, I suppose that I must applaud "Kung Fu Panda 2" for being a better sequel than it really needs to be. Many sequels both animated and not release each year; most of them failing to deliver. "Kung Fu Panda 2" may not be great, but as animated entertainment, it serves its purpose rather superbly. It's definitely a recommendation for those who appreciate animated films, and those who enjoyed the first film will probably find plenty to …
review by . June 03, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
When an animated movie hits the right note for me, it really knocks it out of the park. I’ve sat through my fair share of awful animated movies, and when one screws up the formula, it’s really hard to sit through. You can see the resolution coming a mile away, and the jokes that fail to hit the golden balance between kids and adults makes you want to jump out of a window. Thankfully, Kung Fu Panda 2 is a classic benchmark for efficiently mixing humor, action, and a hybrid sort of story …
review by . May 29, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Po returns to battle evil with his improved kung-fu skills and this time he will be rocking out in another dimension of awesomeness. Dreamworks, never one to let a franchise die until the last drop of profit and respect is drained out of the series, plans to make this a six-part series. While an action movie can usually extend itself as long as it has a credible threat from a powerful villain, one can't help but think how many times you could hear Jack Black as a panda. Well on the plus side, …
review by . June 14, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
   PG - 90mins - Animation/Action/Adventure - 10th June 2011    Po (Jack Black) returns in another kung fu animation adventure which sees our ever hungry panda face up to a new and devastating threat in the form of angry albino peacock (Gary Oldman) Lord Shen. Having been cast out by his parents years before for his atrocities, Shen has been biding his time returning with a new technology that threatens to enable him to conquer China.      Po is joined once …
About the reviewer
Chris Pandolfi ()
Ranked #2
Growing up a shy kid in a quiet suburb of Los Angeles, Chris Pandolfi knows all about the imagination. Pretend games were always the most fun for him, especially on the school playground; he and his … more
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About this movie


Kung Fu Panda 2 is a American 3D 2011 computer-animated action comedy film and the sequel to the 2008 film Kung Fu Panda. The cast of the original film reprised their voice roles. The film was released on May 26, 2011 in Real D 3D and Digital 3D.
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Director: Jennifer Yuh
Genre: Action, Adventure, Animation, Comedy, Family
Release Date: 26 May 2011 (USA)
MPAA Rating: PG
Screen Writer: Glenn Berger, Jonathan Aibel
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