The original Kung Fu Panda was a very pleasant surprise; what should have been a ridiculous concept proved to be a film with lots of laughs and heart, as well as some excellent action sequences. The third film shows that the series is still as entertaining as ever, with conflicts coming from lead character Po meeting his real father Li Shan (Bryan Cranston), and being torn in support between his new family of pandas and his adoptive goose father Mr. Ping (James Hong). Po also has to face supernatural villain Kai (J.K. Simmons), who’s out to get the souls of Kung Fu masters for his own army. Once again the franchise is able to balance big laughs and serious moments, with themes of family and self-identity serving as relatable messages. They don’t manage to drag down the fun of the movie, though, as there’s plenty of great physical and verbal humour, whilst the action is still in excellent condition; the fights are well choreographed and often incorporate the slapstick, as demonstrated by the fight in the panda village. The animation is also as well done as ever, using traditional animation frequently in addition to the computer animation, which helps to contribute to the Chinese feel of the film and provide some excellent eye candy, particularly scenes taking place within the spirit world.
The big success of the franchise lies with Po, and in this film he’s as enjoyable as ever. Jack Black’s infectious energy helps to make the character so loveable, and it’s great to see that whilst the character matures in his skills throughout the series he never loses his comedic touches, particularly his fanboy nature over Kung Fu, which makes him delightful to watch. Cranston and Hong also deliver strong support, helping for the parenthood conflict to effectively unfold, whilst Simmons provides his usual amazing voice to help create an effective villain in Kai, even if he’s not on the same level as Tai Lung or Lord Shen. If there’s one complaint in the character department, it would be that Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) and the rest of the Furious Five feel rather extraneous here as they are relegated to the background.
Overall, if you enjoyed the first two Kung Fu Panda movies then this entry should be highly enjoyable, as it continues on the laughs, drama, and action of the earlier films in a big way, whilst also being enticing with an incredibly likeable lead character. Whilst there was a danger of the franchise fizzling, it instead carries on with its awesomeness.
Is it worth watching?
+ Great lead character
Kung Fu Panda 3 continues on the fun of the franchise in an action-packed riot that kids and adults alike will enjoy.