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by MATTHEW BAHK
Boasting a solid presentation of what makes the Kung-Fu Panda series so great; “Kung Fu Panda 3” is pure fun as it expands the world and detailed characters that it represents.
After Master Shifu (voiced by Dustin Hoffman) retires as the master of the Furious Five, Po, the Kung-Fu-fighting-panda-hero-of-the-valley (voiced by Jack Black), takes the mantle as their new teacher. However, he proves not to understand how to teach a class of martial arts masters, as their training leads to disaster. The introduction to the hidden panda village in the mountains and Po’s biological father, Li (voiced by Bryan Cranston) provides an interesting backstory on Po’s linage, as Po struggles with deciding who he really is as the Dragon Warrior.
The villain, Kai (voiced by J.K Simmons), uses a supernatural ability to summon a Jade copy of any Kung-Fu master that he has defeated. After capturing all the deceased masters found in the spirit realm, he moves to reality to obtain the powers of all the Kung-Fu masters of China.
Besides the main storyline of the powerful Kung-Fu antagonist against the Dragon Warrior, other subplots like Po’s qualms about becoming a teacher and the idea of his biological father replacing his adoptive father, a goose known as Mr. Ping (voiced by James Hong), completes the story using the premise of Po’s self-discovery of who he is. When Po is taken back to the hidden panda village in the mountains, he learns about the heritage and lifestyle that comes with being a panda.
The film stays true to Kung-Fu Panda franchise, answering old questions like why Po was chosen as the dragon warrior (“Kung Fu Panda”) and what happened to the pandas that were believed to be killed (“Kung Fu Panda 2”). Its use of the training montage was reminiscent of Po’s training in the first film.
Although it may not be necessary, Dreamworks CEO Jeffery Katzenburg has stated that it is possible for the Kung Fu Panda series, spanning three more movies.
Clearly, this film could have wrapped up the franchise quite nicely; however Hollywood appears not to be ready to give up the loveable panda yet.
“Kung Fu Panda 3” is currently in theatres with a PG rating.