Kung Fu Panda (PG)



Family (2008)
92mins US

Starring: Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Ian McShane, Lucy Liu, Angelina Jolie
Director: Mark Osborne, John Stevenson
Writer(s): Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Burger
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

Local sensei Master Oogway anoints an overweight panda called Po as the next Dragon Warrior, who must protect the village from harm, especially the threat posed by escaped prisoner Tai Lung. Oogway's choice stuns his protege Shifu and loyal students Crane, Mantis, Monkey, Tigress and Viper, who have trained their whole lives for such an honour. They feel certain that Oogway should have chosen one of them instead and wait patiently for Po to realise he is not up to the task.

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LondonNet Film Review
Kung Fu Panda

Mark Osborne and John Stevenson's computer animated comedy does exactly what it says on the tin, spinning a familiar story of triumph against the odds around a rotund bear with a passion for martial arts...

Film Title: Kung Fu Panda  2008 DreamWorks Animation, L.L.C. All Rights Reserved.Jack Black is perfectly cast as the voice of the eponymous guzzler, who sees himself as "a legendary warrior whose fighting skills were the stuff of legend." "He was so deadly, his enemies would go blind from his awesomeness!" adds the bear in a hilarious opening monologue, complete with two-dimensional animation, to tip us off that the portly protagonist has a febrile imagination to match his considerable girth.

Big is beautiful in Kung Fu Panda, the best family-oriented offering from DreamWorks Animation since box office smash Shrek. Colourful visuals and excellent vocal performances, including Dustin Hoffman as an acerbic mentor, guarantee a lively 92 minutes of low blows and last gasp victories, disproving one naysayer who sneers, "That flabby panda cannot possibly be the answer to our problems." He's definitely the answer for parents who need to keep pint-sized charges amused this weekend.

Kung Fu Panda - Premier at the Vue West End, Leicester Square in London. 2008 Jo Hale for Paramount Pictures InternationalPo (voiced by Black) has a passion for kung fu, though no natural ability. Instead, he is destined to inherit the family shop run by his long-suffering father, Mr Ping (James Wong). "We are noodle folk - broth runs through our veins," sagely observes the old man. Unthinkably, local sensei Master Oogway (Randall Duk Kim) anoints Po as the next Dragon Warrior, who must protect the village from the threat of escaped prisoner Tai Lung (Ian McShane). Oogway's choice of successor stuns his protege Shifu (Hoffman) and loyal students Crane (David Cross), Mantis (Seth Rogen), Monkey (Jackie Chan), Tigress (Angelina Jolie) and Viper (Lucy Liu), better known as The Furious Five. These fighting masters feel certain that Oogway should have chosen one of them instead and wait patiently for Po to fall by the wayside. The bear meanwhile is delighted to be in the presence of greatness. "Whoa! The Furious Five!" he gasps. "You're so much bigger than your action figures... except for you Mantis, you're about the same size!" Under the tutelage of a despairing Shifu, Po aims to meet his potential, presuming he can keep his mitts off the temple's stash of cookies.

Film Title: Kung Fu Panda  2008 DreamWorks Animation, L.L.C. All Rights Reserved.Kung Fu Panda wins us over instantly with its lovable characters and affection for martial arts cliches as the overweight hero discovers his inner strength somewhere within that growling belly. With lots of heart and a profusion of broad humour, Osborne and Stevenson's film gently promotes Mr Ping's mantra that, "To make something special, you just have to believe something is special." Fights sequences are animated at breakneck speed, matched by quick-fire banter between Black's ill-equipped saviour and Hoffman's dour master, whose entire reputation rests on a dreamer who runs out of breath half way up the temple steps. Thankfully, the film keeps up a head of steam(ed dumplings) until the rousing final frame.

- Kim Hu

Kung Fu Panda (at BFI IMAX)

As a footnote it's worth adding that Kung Fu Panda is showing in a special print at the BFI Imax in Waterloo and other IMAX cinemas across the UK. This is a film worthy of Britain's largest screen: The colours, graphics and sound deluge your senses and within moments you're whisked off to the magical Orient. As ever the venue offers film lovers a double treat; a great film replete with visual overload, all for regular central-London prices. If you've not seen IMAX before, the excellent Kung Fu Panda could be the opportunity you've been waiting for.

- Peter Clee


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