The Dragon Warrior Po (Jack Black) is back in Kung Fu Panda 3, and out of nowhere his long lost father Li (Bryan Cranston) has come looking for him. After Po is reunited with his father he learns of a secret panda village high in the mountains, where once upon a time they were able to heal with the mystical power of Chi. Unfortunately for Po the ancient warrior Kai has broken free from the spirit realm, and has begun wreaking havoc by defeating every kung fu master and taking their Chi. The only ones left are Po, the Furious Five and Master Shifu, and Kai will stop at nothing until he has beaten them all. This leaves Po and the gang with no option but to protect the panda village and fight to free the kung fu masters of China.
Without a doubt the Kung Fu Panda franchise is one of the jewels in the crown of Dreamworks Animation, especially since Shrek has been on the shelf since 2010. It started off with a solid first entry, and followed up with an exciting sequel, but as fun as Kung Fu Panda 3 is, it suffers from trilogy troubles. I’d even go as far to say that the climactic battle in the panda village reminded me of a certain battle involving Ewoks in Return of the Jedi. Characters from the first two films have become marginalised in the the third entry as the world gets bigger and newer characters are introduced. Which is a shame because I really like the Furious Five, and despite featuring in plenty of the action they barely get a few lines of dialogue, outside of Angelina Jolie’s Tigress.
That being said the new additions to the voice cast are good ones, Bryan Cranston as Li, J.K. Simmons as the power hungry Kai, and even Kate Hudson as the ribbon dancing panda Mei Mei are all solid additions to an already impressive voice cast. However it’s Jack Black’s Po and James Hong’s Mr. Ping that dominate the voice proceedings with great comic delivery at every turn. Easily the most impressive facet of the film is the wonderful colour palette used throughout, luscious yellows, greens and golds strike across the screen making a visually appetising treat. Throw in some thoroughly entertaining action sequences and you have yourself an enjoyable return trip into a world of animals trained in martial arts.
Now we can’t review a children’s animated film without saying how good it is for the kids, and it’s a good one. Not only do you have a village full of pandas that’ll melt the hearts of any child, sometimes adult, they all a variety of different personalities and do a collection of silly things. From rolling down hills, to dumpling eating contests, there is enough fun humour here for the little ones. The tremendous colour scheme may not be the first thing on their mind when watching the film, but the great action sequences will be, and they’ll both certainly contribute to their enjoyment. It may not be the strongest entry in the trilogy but it most certainly is worth watching with all the family.