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by Wilson Morales


Distributor: DreamWorks Animation
Director: John Stevenson, Mark Osborne
Producer: Melissa Cobb
Screenwriter: Dan Harmon, Rob Schrab
Cast: Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Lucy Liu, Dustin Hoffman, Jackie Chan, Ian McShane, Michael Clarke Duncan
Composers: Hans Zimmer & John Powell
Rating: PG (for sequences of martial arts action)



With the exception of Jet Li and Jackie Chan, you rarely see any martial arts displayed on the big screen unless it involves either of these legendary guys. If you are over the age of thirty, then you may remember the Shaw Bros. films that were shown on TV every Saturday morning such as ‘Five Deadly Venoms’, ‘Shoalin Vs.Lama’, and ‘The Kid with The Golden Arm’. Since they never play subtitled films on a major network, those films were badly dubbed, but we didn’t care. We just wanted to see the fight scenes like in Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

Well, if you take those films and you make it animated, you get ‘Kung Fu Panda’, a fun filled family adventure that will have you feeling like you can take on Bruce Lee in his heyday. With Jack Black leading the charge as the panda, you can bet you will be laughing out loud.

Black plays Po the Panda, who works with his goose dad selling noodles at their restaurant. Reluctant to do his job, Po yearns to practice his martial arts craft and learn under Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman). He would also love to meet and hang out with his idols, the Furious Five, which includes Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Monkey ( Jackie Chan), Viper (Lucy Liu), Mantis (Seth Rogen), and Crane (David Cross).

When Oogway the turtle (Randall Duk Kim) is ready to announce who is the Dragon Warrior, the whole town comes in to see who would receive such an honor. With his Mister Magoo like-tendercies, Po just happens, by accident, to be at the right place and time to be anointed the Dragon Warrior, which doesn’t make Tai Lung (Ian McShane) any happy since he expected to be named years ago, but has been languishing in a tightly guarded prison for his greedy villainous actions.

When Tai Lung escapes, it’s up to Po, the Furious Five, and Master Shifu to fend off his attacks and for Po to discover if this new change is his destiny in life.

Although ‘Panda’ is basically an adolescence film, it brings in a lot of action mixed in with some comedy and drama. Jack Black is totally hilarious in his role. He brings his comedic persona to the character. With so many big names like Jolie and Chan playing some of the Furious Five, they never seem make their voices stand out. With ‘kung fu’ in the title, all you want to see is the fight sequences and you sure do get them. The kids will eat this up and so will you. It’s really fun, and pleasurable.