Kung Fu Panda
dir Mark Osborne, John Stevenson
scr Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger
voices Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Ian McShane, Lucy Liu, Seth Rogen, David Cross, Jackie Chan, Randall Duk Kim, Michael Clarke Duncan, James Hong, Dan Fogler
release US 6.Jun.08, UK 4.Jul.08
08/US DreamWorks 1h32
Kung Fu Panda
Training day: Po faces Shifu, crane, monkey and mantis

black hoffman jolie
See also:
Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011) Kung Fu Panda 3 (2016)
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Kung Fu Panda With a witty attention to detail, DreamWorks Animation comes up with their best film yet: a raucous wuxia-style romp. Sure, the story's ending is completely predictable, but it's great fun getting there.

Po (voiced by Black) is a lazy panda who idolises the Furious Five kung fu champions: a tigress (Jolie), viper (Liu), mantis (Rogen), crane (Cross) and monkey (Chan) who train under the master Shifu (Hoffman) as they await the revelation of the mysterious Dragoon Warrior, who will save their valley from the villainous leopard Tai Lung (McShane). Through a series of accidents, Po is chosen to be the Dragon Warrior, and Shifu is sure there's been some serious mistake. But as Shifu's master Oogway (Kim) says, "There are no accidents."

The film is a riot of colourful designs, vivid characters and outrageously entertaining action, all infused with an irreverent sense of humour that keeps us chuckling through every scene. The silly and smart comedy is balanced perfectly and never overplayed by either the voice cast or the animators. Meanwhile, the filmmakers poke fun at the genre while gleefully indulging in it. We certainly don't mind the requisite training montage or extraneous action sequences, because they're so cleverly rendered.

And the characters are thoroughly likeable, clearly designed with merchandising in mind, but at least they didn't forget to inject a lively spark of personality. Black gets Po just right, creating a memorable slacker who, in spite of himself, still manages to rise to the occasion. (It definitely helps that the animators haven't replicated his annoying smirk.) And Hoffman's voice is perfectly matched to the impish Shifu, who tries to get Po to give up until he realises that he too has a quest.

Watching this goofball panda become a fighting master is surprisingly funny and sweet. And the character interaction is beautifully written, with a gorgeous visual collision of colours and textures. So even though the simplistic plot never veers from the well-worn path of Chinese hero epics, at least the filmmakers and actors find more than enough heart and hilarity to keep us entertained. Honestly, we never want it to end.

cert pg suspense, bloodless violence 8.Jun.08

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... Kung Fu Panda Michelle, London: 4/5 "This is the funniest animation for a long time! Po is v.funny and we loved the slow-mo sequences! It is, of course, a totally obvious ending and highly moralistic but the characters are so believable you get sucked in anyway. Super enjoyable." (10.Jul.08)
© 2008 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall