Kung Fu Panda series is one of the most loved animation film series, mostly due to the unique characters, humor, and ensemble. I watched Kung Fu Panda 2 first and loved it! The face of animation itself is seen in these DreamWorks studio projects.
The film is narrated by Soothsayer (Michelle Yeoh), introducing an incident that took place long before the events of the first movie. Lord Shen (Gary Oldman) after hearing the prophecy where a warrior of black and white will defeat him, sends its wolf army to attack and exterminate an entire village of Pandas. Shen’s parents exile their son, horrified at the atrocity committed. Shen swears revenge and begins creating a weapon refined from the method that is used to make fireworks. In the present day, Po (Jack Black) is popular in his village owing to its identity as the dragon warrior. Under the teaching of master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman), Po has a good team leader skills and relationship with the furious five Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Crane (David Cross), Viper (Lucy Liu), Mantis (Seth Rogen) and Monkey (Jackie Chan). Lord Shen’s wolf army comes to loot their valley and Po is drawn to a symbol on one of the wolf’s armor, reminding him of his past. Under Shifu’s instructions Po and the furious five are asked to confront Lord Shen as it killed Master Rhino; then we are introduced to the funny yet touching roller-coaster journey of the dragon warrior.
Out of the three films, Kung Fu Panda 2 is the funniest, with apt comic timings and creative sequences; the dragon costume scene, “inner peace” and “stairs” sequence. At the same time, Po’s story is revealed and his stepfather Mr. Ping becomes the most lovable character; he loves Po unconditionally without expecting anything in return.
Mr. Ping’s chemistry with Po is the adorable part of the whole story, although Kung Fu 3 lacked the spark. Po’s story as the baby Panda rescued by its mother’s sacrifice adds the sense of drama to the plot, balancing the points thus making us feel like we are in there with these characters. Jack Black, as always, brought out the dramatic as well humourous touch to Po’s personality. Po’s character development makes it adorable and strong before the mass. Angelina Jolie has a strong presence in the film with feminine power. James Hong made the best vocal performance as Mr. Ping. Kung Fu Panda 2 focusses more on Po’s teamwork with the furious 5, and their friendship is very touching to witness especially Po’s connection with Tigress where it is trying to express something to him. Lord Shen is not as interesting as J.K Simmon’s Kai or Ian McShane’s Tai Lung, but it does portray a very interesting villain as a cruel leader with determination and greed, not necessarily strength. The symbolic representation of the dark side of the firecrackers hit the spot. Something, that can entertain and make people happy may also backfire with drastic consequences. However, there are plot similarities with the first film; i.e. there’s a super villain who is afraid of a warrior who is destined to defeat him, Po himself. Similar plot is noticed in Kung Fu Panda 3. Why can’t the writers come up with something new? It is annoying when you think about it. Hans Zimmer’s soundtrack finds it’s way into your minds. Jennifer Yuh Nelson did a fine job as the director with her creativity and sense of humour as per the interests of the like-minded audience. The quality of animation and 3D effects shot up since 2008 version of Po’s story.
Kung Fu Panda 2 is one of the most enjoyable animation films I have watched, that is worth viewing again and again, mainly due to the humor content.