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    Kung Fu Panda 3 (2016): Movie Review

    "Big-belly laugh, high-kick action, and slight teardrops.” 

    Our beloved cuddly but high-kicking panda is back on the big screen after the intensely action-packed and dramatic Kung Fu Panda 2 in 2011. Five years after, Alessandro Carloni and KFP2 returning director Jennifer Yuh Nelson bring us Kung Fu Panda 3. In the series’ third installment, Po has finally found a familial connection which is tested by the arrival of another villainous kung fu master. While the story may not be completely new, the characters remain appealing and visual designs are a notch impressive.

    The film opens with a prologue set in the spirit realm. While relaxing in the other world, Po’s former master Oogway (Randall Duk-Kim) is surprisingly confronted and apprehended by an old frenemy, a blade-wielding yak named Kai (J.K. Simmons), who can steal the powers or chi of kung fu masters and store them in jade amulets which he then uses to raise a supernatural army.

    Meanwhile, Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) decides to retire and entrusts Po (Jack Black) the task of teaching kung fu. While his training with the Furious Five – Tigress (Angelina Jolie Pitt), Monkey (Jackie Chan), Mantis (Seth Rogen), Crane (David Cross) and Viper (Lucy Liu) – turns out to be disastrous, Po finds encouragement with the unexpected arrival of his long-lost father, Li (Bryan Cranston), which ignites little sparks of jealousy from his adoptive dad and noodle-peddling goose Mr. Ping (James Hong). As Kai emerges from the spirit world and begins to wreck havoc, Po also begins his journey of reconnecting with his roots and finding his true self. 

    Kung Fu Panda 3 is another delightful addition to the series. It has a right balance of action, humor and drama. While the first sequel turned dark and was full of action to the point of overkill, the present film returns to the original movie’s winning quality – its lightness and heart-warming joviality. Yes, there is the presence of an omnipotent villain and menace of immense monstrosity, but it is its gentleness, geniality and overall warmth that lift the film from among many animated features. It remains honest to the likeable characters, spiced up with the addition of new ones like the lovable ribbon-dancing panda named Mei Mei (Kate Hudson).

    Like the first two instalments, Kung Fu Panda 3 talks of different themes like family, friendship, perseverance, and most importantly, finding and believing in one’s self. The final battle scene of “Po-plus-villagers” versus Kai may not greatly tingle emotions much like the characters’ practiced “dramatic entrance,” but it nevertheless ends up satisfyingly.

    The film is also a visual extravaganza. Light and shadows are tastefully selected and harmonized, including the swirls, luminescence and nuances. The Spirit Realm and Po’s Dragon Warrior flare are astonishing, as well as Kai’s life-sized jade army. Lastly, Black and the rest of the crew do superbly in lending their voices. 

    Kung Fu Panda 3 is a wonderful treat. It gives you loads of hearty laughs, some chest-tightening action sequences, and a light tinge of family drama and self-knowledge. 

    Production companies: DreamWorks Animation SKG, China Film Co., Oriental DreamWorks, Zhong Ming You Ying Film 
    Distributor: 20th Century Fox 
    Voice Cast: Jack Black, Bryan Cranston, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie Pitt, J.K. Simmons, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu, David Cross, Kate Hudson, James Hong, Randall Duk-Kim 
    Directors: Jennifer Yuh Nelson, Alessandro Carloni 
    Screenwriters: Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger 
    Producer: Melissa Cobb 
    Executive producers: Mike Mitchell, Guillermo del Toro, La Peikang, Li Ruigang 
    Production designer: Raymond Zibach 
    Editor: Clare Knight


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