Posted: 06/10/2008


Kung Fu Panda


by Hank Yuloff

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If only Po could be part of the Furious Five and make them a six, then the self-proclaimed “real Dragon Warrior” Tai Lung escaping from prison would not have been so scary. But the Five, representing the ancient forms of kung fu, are evidently not ready to defeat Tai Lung.

Through an unexpected fulfillment (or maybe a mistaken interpretation) of ancient prophecy and a village wide contest, Po is accidentally chosen to become the Dragon Warrior, imbued with knowledge of the dragon scroll. He must now train to protect the Valley of Peace from the villain Lung (Ian McShane) who has come to exact revenge and claim unrivaled and unlimited power.

This is the premise of the new CG film Kung Fu Panda, starring Jack Black. He voices the slacker panda Po, who goes from working at his family’s noodle shop to kung fu warrior, under the tutelage of Master Shifu (voiced by Dustin Hoffman). When you take a look at Po the Panda next to the other five, sleek kung fu masters, the number of fat jokes about to be tossed at you is obvious. There’s Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Crane (David Cross from School for Scoundrels) , Mantis (Seth Rogan from Knocked Up), Viper (Lucy Liu from Kill Bill) and Monkey (Jackie Chan from Rush Hour, The Tuxedo)

What Po has going for him is that he is a complete fan of kung fu. Picture the biggest Star Wars geek, knowing the ship numbers of every starship in the fleet, and you have what Po is to kung fu fannery. What he does not have going for him is pure athletic ability. Putting his heart to the test, he finds that his weaknesses may be turned to his advantage… Which means that he will not be eating a lot of Subway 6” veggie sandwiches.

The film is beautiful. You have the feeling of being in a Chinese city (if you were a computer generated being), and the fight scenes are amazing. Writing team Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger (who also produce) have delivered a fantastic story and a film that the entire family can go to and enjoy. So pack up the SUV, grab some popcorn and enjoy!

Hank Yuloff is a film mogul and critic living in Los Angeles.

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