Review: Kung Fu Panda

The first time I heard that Jack Black is working on a kiddie movie, I laughed. And after watching that kiddie movie, I was still laughing. Not at it, but with it. And that movie was called ‘The School of Rock’. This movie totally shifted my perception of Jack Black from a narrow and tenacious comedian to a broader and multi-faceted one. And a more talented comedian with his tenacious reputation intact too, as in the case of ‘The School of Rock’, Jack Black did not lower himself to childish whims like Vin Diesel in ‘The Pacifier’, but he successfully turned the table and made the kid actors raise their energy levels to match his level of intensity. And it worked like a charm, and in my opinion ‘The School of Rock’ remains as of one of the greatest comedies ever to be produced in the modern era.

But then came ‘Kung Fu Panda’, and my immediate reaction? I think Jack Black has gone too blardy far. Jack Black as a cuddly panda learning the arts of kung-fu? Let’s not even start with the choice of a panda, I mean I think for Jack Black, a bear would have fitted him better. But I guess that’s another story (or cartoon), but the premise of someone (or some animal) learning kung-fu has been done to death, how could another attempt at this repetitive tale be anything fresh and innovative once again?

I was wrong. I will never doubt Jack Black ever again. I honestly have to say that after watching this hilariously zippy tale with a massive smile on my face, I will believe in Jack Black in whatever he does. Forever. ‘The School of Rock’ pulled the rug on me, and now ‘Kung Fu Panda’ did it again.

I will not go into details of the story, as I might spoil the enjoyment, but the premise of it is rather simple. It’s the evergreen tale of finding self-belief and overcoming the stigma of being over-sized. But what was amazing was definitely the way this over-common and rather predictable story was brought to life again in a way that was massively enjoyable.

The highly amusing banter between the characters, especially Jack Black (playing the role of Po the Panda) and Dustin Hoffman (Shifu, the…raccoon?) makes it a joy to watch. The chemistry between all the characters are done to near perfection, with the main characters delivering line after line of laughter intertwined with moments of total comical inspiration. My particular favorite is the training sessions between Shifu and Po. When Shifu realizes that Po does his best Kung Fu when he is being offered food as a reward, Shifu takes this to his advantage and trains him in the arts of Kung Fu in this approach. The outcome is comedic brilliance tainted with a bit of controversy in the best Jack Black way. I mean, think about it: I’m not sure how parents are going to feel about this idea of food as reward for good behavior….

“Throw out the rubbish son!!”

“Yes daddy!”

“OK! Good boy!” (throws a bag of chips to his kid)

*munch munch munch* ~~~Blurrpp~~~

As with so many animation movies currently being shoved into our attention every year, one would think that the animation style of ‘King Fu Panda’ would be no different from the rest. One can be wrong. In ‘Kung Fu Panda’, the kinetic energy can be felt so vibrantly as you watch it on screen. The fight sequences are alive with tenacious vigor that is akin to Jack Black’s style, and that truly gave this movie its life-force. The characters are comically created, with one look and anyone laugh at it (such as Shifu’s facial hair. The thickness of it and the way it curves around his face just cracks me up!). The set details, the costume design and the fighting styles of the main characters are all meticulously constructed, and it’s a joy to see them unfold on the big screen.

Being a kung-fu movie, I don’t think that anyone will need to be a kung-fu fan to enjoy this movie. Of course some soft of knowledge in old kung fu movies do help, as certain jokes in ‘Kung Fu Panda’ pokes hilarious fun at stereotypical aspects of kung-fu movies. And don’t be afraid to watch this movie filled with kids (as I know watching movies with kids can be a drag). Because believe me, if the movie is engaging and enjoyable, kids will simply sit back and enjoy it with little disturbances. And ‘Kung Fu Panda’ is this kind of movie. You will eventually howl with laughter at this movie, and long with the kids.

Definitely a zappy comedic cartoon that provides the kicks that is not to be missed.

Jack Black, I hail to your brilliance. *Kisses at his feet* ~Muaks muaks muaks~

Verdict: 8.5/10

Reviewed by: Raymond Choy

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