Kung Fu Panda
In the words of Carl Douglas’ 1974 disco hit: ‘Everybody is kung fu fighting.’ Everybody, that is, apart from overweight panda Po (voiced by Jack Black). He dreams about joining his heroes, the Fierce Five, in butt-kicking adventures, but his job in his dad’s noodle restaurant seems to be all the excitement he is destined for. Then, one day, out of the blue, the food crazy panda is proclaimed the Dragon Warrior and must train alongside his heroes: Mantis (Seth Rogen), Crane (David Cross), Viper (Lucy Lui), Monkey (Jackie Chan) and Tigress (Angelina Jolie). When the valley of peace is threatened with the return of bad kung fu master, Tai Lung (Ian McShane), Po must put down the cookies and step up to the challenge.
Kung Fu Panda is Dreamworks-does-manga animation, overlaid with an Eastern version of the fated place-in-the-universe style philosophy originally trademarked in The Lion King. The studio has pulled out all the stops from their colouring and animation palette, but nothing quite lives up to the kick-start, 2D dream sequence that features Black’s Tenacious D-style over the top rant. Black is perfect as Po but the other big billed names (Jolie, Chan, Lui) are just that, interchangeable names delivering underwhelming characterised sound bites. Technically and aesthetically Kung Fu Panda has obviously been made with love – kung fu fans will recognise pastiches of old Shaw Brothers and King Hu features already pastiched by Tarantino (like the compulsive training montage, and the rebellious student’s journey of respect). But all the respect in the world will not provide the touch of Zen that this flawed comedy so lacks.
General release from Fri 4 Jul.