Everyone can agree that the exceedingly spry “Kung Fu Panda” film series have been certified exquisite and adventurous productions from day one. It is no surprise that the third installment, Kung Fu Panda 3, continues to carry the mantle by being a gorgeously stylish and visually arresting computer-animation film exuding a vibrant cheekiness that shines. More important is the fact that the familiar fun-loving trials and tribulations of the affable Po the panda never feels old or redundant in concept. Thankfully, Kung Fu Panda 3 is just as fresh and frothy the third time around. Quite frankly, this infectious kiddie karate chop to the giddy soul is rather charming.
Co-directors Jennifer Yuh and Alessandro Carloni had crafted a high-spirited gem with this movie series that is motivated in gentle outlandishness. The martial arts sequences are rooted in high-wire hilarity and the hovering wit and warmth fits the colorfully cockeyed proceedings as well. The story is simplistic but very promising courtesy on the rousing characters that weave in and out as the bouncy mayhem unfolds. Both the kids and adults alike will certainly cherish the celebrated impishness of Kung Fu Panda 3 without reservation.
We revisit our revered panda protagonist Po (voiced by Jack Black, “Goosebumps”) as he receives a wonderful surprise of his own. As it turns out Po’s papa Li (voiced by Bryan Cranston, “Trumbo”) returns and reunites with his son. The reunion feels fantastic for the father-son tandem as there are promises of good times ahead. Of course there would be some unexpected adversity on the horizon for Po and Li as the good times for their pairing look pretty dim. Indeed, not a good sign at all for the pouncing pandas.
The traveling twosome find themselves frequenting what amounts to be some kind of descriptive panda paradise where they encounter a bunch of peppy personalities scrambling around the territory. The harsh reality remains that the sinister supernatural entity Kai (voiced by Oscar-winning J.K. Simmons from “Whiplash”) is looking to spread his intimidating essence all across China. This spells major disaster because the evil-minded Kai’s dubious powers has rendered all the top-notched kung fu masters regrettably vulnerable. Naturally, this is disconcerting for Po and the entire region in general. The golden question remains: Who will confront the mighty and maniacal Kai and put a permanent stop to his reign of terror?
With all of the kung fu masters’ Chi force skills claimed by the dastardly mist of Kai the stakes are very high. Thus, the resilient Po needs to counteract with an immediate strategy. Looking to channeling his teacher mode, Po must gather his clumsy comrades in a band and train them rigorously to defeat the conniving Kai before all hope is lost. It is imperative that Kai cannot monopolize all the martial arts mojo while crippling fighting philosophies of the courageous kung fu masters both past and present.
Specifically, Kai is looking to infiltrate the sacred Jade Palace where lies the memories of his great friend Master Oogway (Randall Duk Kim). As Kai schemes to steal Master Oogway’s Chi and make the Jade Palace his personalized shrine in the process, Po with his crew of crusaders teams up with favorites, Master Monkey (voiced by Jackie Chan, “Kung Fu Panda 2”), Mantis (voiced by Seth Rogen, “Steve Jobs”), Viper (voiced by Lucy Liu, “Kung Fu Panda”), Crane (voiced by David Cross, “Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel”), Tigress (voiced by Angelina Jolie, “Maleficent”) and Shifu (voiced by Dustin Hoffman, “Boychoir”). Interestingly, this grappling group was former members that were taught by the jeopardized Master Oogway.
The luscious settings, refreshingly kooky characterizations, manic and majestic martial arts sequences and the stunning computer-animation artistry is what triggers the playful opulence being presented in the engagingly sassy Kung Fu Panda 3. The impressive voiceover work done by a who’s who of Hollywood icons both past and present shrewdly help propel the high-spirited nuttiness to rollicking new heights. There is always that looming factor that threatens to invite the regurgitation of worn-out gags and stale slapstick. Consequently, Kung Fu Panda 3 has no troubles avoiding such conventional pitfalls.
The “bear” necessities are undeniable as Kung Fu Panda 3 is worth embracing convincingly.