The Kung-Fu-Panda franchise is one of the most treasured weapons in Dreamwork’s armoury. The first two movies were both a critical and commercial success and the movies have spawned several spin offs that are available on several streaming services. The franchise’s third instalment arrives in the UK having already done some pretty solid business overseas, but can the movie continue the precedent set by its predecessors?
Set after the events of the second movie Kung Fu Panda 3 sees Po faced with the daunting task of becoming a teacher, replacing his own, Master Shifu who intends to retire. As Po is struggling to deal with his new responsibilities his life is flipped on its head when his real father, Li Shan (Bryan Cranston) turns up out of the blue. To make matters worse, a rampaging spirit warrior, known as Kai (JK Simmons) is on a rampage, determined to collect the chi of every warrior in the world. Po must team up with his father and go back to his homeland to learn the ancient ways of the panda to successfully defeat Kai and fulfill his destiny.
As with the previous two films Kung Fu Panda 3 is a visual delight, creating a colourful and rich world that is respectful to Chinese culture and also vivid in its imagination. Dreamworks continue to excel themselves in this department, especially in some sequences that are set in the spirit world, another dimension occupied by wise old masters.
The voice cast all return at the top of their game as well, and the additions of Bryan Cranston and JK Simmons only add to this. Simmons’ Kai is perhaps the franchise’s best villain so far, managing to be both sinister and hilarious, often in the same scene, whilst Po’s relationship with his father, well, fathers, proves to be the emotional glue that holds the whole feature together.
The plot, whilst by the numbers still provides plenty of laughs. The franchise has relied on its sense of humour to get it through and nothing is any different here. Rarely does five minutes go by without a laugh out moment rearing up and the movie moves along at a lovely pace because of this.
Dreamworks are at the top of their game here, Kung Fu Panda 3, like the previous two installments, is a delight from start to finish. Those who love Po and the gang have nothing to worry about here.
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