I don’t think I ever saw “Kung Fu Panda” in the theater, but I do own a copy of the film; it’s a great movie. It is a children’s martial arts movie featuring an animated flabby panda by the name of Po as the main character. Po works for his “father,” a duck, in his noodle shop. He spends his days waiting on the customers, serving noodles, and his nights dreaming of kung fu. Nearby, is the Jade Palace, a kind of monastery for teaching kung fu. Therein lives (I’m not sure of these spellings) Master Uugway, Master Shifu, and their most devoted students, known as the Furious Five: Tiger, Monkey, Mantis, Viper, and Crane (for those who don’t know, those are all animals in the kung fu system of martial arts)—all of whom are animals of some sort or another. Uugway, for example, is a turtle. I’m not sure what Shifu is, but the others fall in line with their respective disciplines.
One day, while Po is serving noodles at the shop, an announcement is posted on the wall. Master Uugway is ready to choose the Dragon Warrior, a mythical kung fu master of limitless power. It is a momentous occasion, to say the least. Po ushers everyone out of the restaurant and toward the Jade Palace, where through a humorous series of “accidents,” Po winds up being chosen as the Dragon Warrior. Master Shifu and the other students object—after all, Po has no martial arts training and doesn’t know any real kung fu—but Master Uugway is adamant. Thus begins Po’s journey to become the Dragon Warrior and receive the Dragon Scroll, a scroll said to hold the secret to limitless power.
I’ve forgotten the bad guy’s name (which is sad, because I watched the movie last night), but he is a menacing kind of grey-colored leopard sort of creature. The former prize student of Master Shifu, he was imprisoned after he went berserk over not being chosen as the Dragon Warrior. Shortly into the movie, he escapes from prison. This, of course, causes an uproar, because everyone knows he is coming to the Jade Palace to exact his revenge. Against orders, The Furious Five seek him out to stop him. Of course, he defeats them all. Meanwhile, Po is training hard with Master Shifu, who has found that the key to unlocking Po’s abilities lies with his stomach. He uses food to inspire the Panda to work. Of course, ultimately, Po and the bad guy must square off in a final battle, which Po wins. But getting to that point is half the fun.
There are plenty of clean, humorous jokes interlaced throughout this movie. It’s perfectly fine for family consumption, except possibly for one tiny potential flaw. At the end of the movie, Po kills the bad guy using the infamous Wushi Finger Hold. They don’t show anything, just an unleashed wave of chi energy that blankets the area. In all likelihood, very young children might not even make the connection that the bad guy is dead. But still, the hero calmly, and deliberately, kills him—or at least, the movie gives every indication that this is what he does. So, keep that in mind if you have young kids who want to watch the movie. Other than that, the movie was a blast.
Overall, I’ll give “Kung Fu Panda” four and a half out five stars.