Thursday, May 26, 2011

Kung Fu Panda 2 [ Movie Review ] ★★★1/2

The Pitch

Kung Fu Panda was a blast. It was an awesome American comedic homage to Asian Kung Fu movies. Plenty of funny moments, memorable casting choices, loveable characters, heartwarming at times and blazing Kung fu action sequences that would please most Kung Fu fans. Needless to say, it made lots of money and became a household name. When that happens, Kung Fu Panda 2  naturally happened.

Well most of the original cast are back for this sequel and that's a good news. The Furious Five (Angelina Jolie, Jackie Chan, Lucy Liu, Seth Rogen and David Cross), Sifu (Dustin Hoffman), Mr Ping (James Hong) and Po (Jack Black) will all be back for the second adventure. Gary Oldman will be taking over the antagonist role of Lord Shen and Michelle Yeoh will be spouting words of wisdom as the Soothsayer (effectively a replacement for Oogway). There's also a surprisingly supporting role of Master Croc for Jean-Claude Van Damme, well known for most Hollywood martial arts movie in the 80s and 90s but had been missing from the spotlight in recent years.

Will Kung Fu Panda 2 become a worthy successor or just another disappointing cash grab sequel (like many of it's animated peers)?  or  will Kung Fu Panda 2 achieved a rarity by being on par with the first one or even outshine the original material like what Shrek 2 and Toy Story 2 did? This review belongs to filmsblitz at blogspot

The Plot

Po is now living his dream as The Dragon Warrior, protecting the Valley of Peace alongside his friends and fellow kung fu masters, The Furious Five – Tigress, Crane, Mantis, Viper and Monkey. But Po’s new life of awesomeness is threatened by the emergence of a formidable villain, who plans to use a secret, unstoppable weapon to conquer China and destroy kung fu.

It is up to Po and The Furious Five to journey across China to face this threat and vanquish it. But how can Po stop a weapon that can stop kung fu? He must look to his past and uncover the secrets of his mysterious origins; only then will he be able to unlock the strength he needs to succeed.

(Plot Write Up taken from Kung Fu Panda's Facebook Page)

The Perspective

In a nutshell, Kungfu Panda 2 was entertaining and enjoyable. But it lacks that special ingredient to make it as awesome as the first one. This review belongs to filmsblitz at blogspot

It could be that the threat that could end Kung Fu wasn't really a legitimate threat that could really stop Kung Fu. It's a threat that any fast moving stealthy martial art experts could get around it and disarm it. It felt that for the sake of a plot device, the Kung Fu experts had to "dance" around it to make it look more fearsome than it actually is.

It also doesn't help that Lord Shen wasn't really that effective as a villain as compared to Tai Lung. Yes, it's a different type of villainy and Gary Oldman was having such a dastardly time with his character that it was remisence of his performance as the over the top DEA officer in Leon but it just lacked the oomph that Ian McShane was able to bring for Tai Lung.

Sifu was notable absence for the bulk of the movie and the pairing of Tigress with Po lacks that certain chemistry that Po shared with Sifu in the first one. Besides Tigress, the other furious four didn't really have much to do except to assist Po for the big fight scenes and tagging along in general. Rather poor usage of the other "main" characters if you ask me. This review belongs to filmsblitz at blogspot

Finally, the last nitpick would be that Jean-Claude Van Damme's Master Croc and the other Master felt excessive and unnecessary to the plot. There wasn't really enough dialogue for him to catch that distinctive Van Damme's accent in his portrayal of Master Croc either.

But then again, there were a few nice touches for Kung Fu Panda 2. Michelle Yeoh was a nice replacement for Randall Duk Kim as the voice of the wise man in this series. The parallelism between Po and Lord Shen's past was a nicely done to entertain both the kids and adults viewers. The choice to explore Po's past was an excellent idea as it helped to build more layers to Kung Fu Panda's mythology and set up some rather touching heartwarming scenes of this movie.

Last but not least, it was a blast to see all the characters once again. It's like meeting up with old friends and Po specially, is still so endearingly funny. It's also impressive to see how they managed to keep the fight sequences fresh and exciting. With all that being said, there's plans to make 6 movies out of Kung Fu Panda franchise and if the quality could maintain at this current standard, I would be catching everyone of them when it's released in the cinema. This review belongs to filmsblitz at blogspot

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