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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Mar 12, 2016

Kung Fu Panda 3 Movie Review: A Great Sequel Told With Such Beautiful Visuals

THE LOVABLE PO (voice by Jack Black) is back in “Kung Fu Panda 3”. Who would have thought that the unlikely combination of a jovial, huggable panda and martial arts would be such a successful movie franchise? Just like the first two movies (made in 2008 and 2011), the 3rd edition is an action-adventure told with such beautiful visuals that not only children but also adults can enjoy it.

The story opens with Po’s erstwhile master, the ancient turtle Oogway (Randall Duk Kim), already in the spirit realm where he is bullied by Kai (JK Simmons), a yak who’s his former student and disciple that he previously banished to the world of spirits for misbehavior. But now, Kai wants to return to the mortal world by stealing the life force called Chi of various kung fu experts.

They have an epic fight and Oogway is defeated, giving Kai the chance to return to earth. His ultimate goal is to get the chi of the last master to make him all powerful. The last master is the Dragon Warrior, who happens to be Po.

Po, in turn, is having problems after Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) retires and makes him the new master of their martial arts school where he is with friends Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Monkey (Jackie Chan), Mantis (Seth Rogen), Viper (Lucy Liu) and Crane (David Cross). As maybe expected, his initial attempts to be a teacher ends in disaster.

Po, who is raised by a goose, Ping (James Hong) as his adoptive father, then gets the biggest surprise of his life when his biological father, Li (Bryan Cranston), suddenly shows up and breaks his record in eating dumplings.

His long lost dad is looking for him to take him back to his roots, a secret Panda village high up in the mountains where he can learn how to behave like a real panda. There, he is reunited with more cuddly, lovable pandas and even finds a love interest, the ribbon dancer Mei Mei (Kate Hudson). Tigress (Angelina Jolie) then follows him to warn him that the evil Kai is coming soon to challenge him and steal his Chi.
Just like in “Panda 1”, Po’s fears and misgivings about not being able to harness his own Chi get the better of him. But his newfound roly poly Panda heritage is there to boost his confidence and assure him that he can face any kind of danger and bring peace back into their land with the help of family and friends. Po then trains them all and together they join forces to fight Kai.

If the movie works and continues to offer so much fun, the credit should go mainly to the writers, Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger, who have always succeeded in coming up with an involving story for each installment since the franchise started. Wonder what will they think of next for “Panda 4”. Then the directors, Jennifer Yuh and Alessandro Carloni (Yuh also did “Panda 2”), should also be commended for maintaining the positive humor and good spirits of the original.

And of course, the Dreamworks animators should all get a pat on the back for their excellent work in each stunning and well constructed scene. Hans Zimmer’s musical score (laudable in its being Asian-influenced) is another outstanding element.