Saturday, 20 April 2019

Pugilistic panda Po is ready to hit us for six

THE latest offering from Dreamworks sees the return of one of its most popular characters: hard-punching,

THE latest offering from Dreamworks sees the return of one of its most popular characters: hard-punching, villain-vanquishing, noodle-eating Po, the kung fu panda.

On the back of the first two critically acclaimed instalments in the series, Kung Fu Panda 3 sees Po reunited with his long-lost father and thrust into the role of kung fu teacher following the retirement of his mentor — all while battling the evil forces of a kung fu master who has returned from the spirit world to seek revenge.

Quite the workload for the easy-going Dragon Warrior.

Having spent two films wondering if he was the last of the pandas in China, Po discovers he hails from a secret society of the bamboo-eating bears. The panda colony holds the secret to defeating the evil threatening the Valley of Peace, but before he can learn the secrets of the chi, Po must first come to terms with his own ancestry. As with previous outings, the film’s success lies with its exploration of how the characters deal with problems both emotionally and physically.

While Po has mastered the art of kung fu, he is still battling with questions over his past, his family and his new responsibilities as a mentor to the next generation of warriors.

Jack Black returns as Po, with Breaking Bad leading man Bryan Cranston joining the cast as Po’s father Li Shan and JK Simmons voicing antagonist Kai.

The series, which began in 2008 has fast become one of Dreamworks’ most successful franchises, raking in more than £1.1billion at the box office. The studio’s boss Jeffrey Katzenberg recently said he hopes to make three more movies, which would see Kung Fu Panda outstrip the likes of Shrek and Madagascar.

Much of its popularity hinges on the performance of Black as Po, who brings his trademark energy and slapstick comedy to the role.

Add to that the ice-cold Tigress (Jolie), sarcastic Master Shifu (Hoffman) and vicious Kai and you have the perfect combination for another Dreamworks hit.

Kung Fu Panda 3 has already topped the box office in America, and with its official UK release scheduled for today (Friday), it’s sure to prove another knockout with Picturehouse audiences.

Review: Jamie Presland

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