The Dragon Warrior and giant Panda, Po, is living his dream in the valley of peace. Fighting off bandits and other threats with his friends and Kung Fu masters, the Furious Five and learning from the wise and powerful Master Shifu, everything seems to be going his way.
That is until the masters receive word that the outcast, Lord Shen, has returned to his ancestral home with a weapon that can destroy Kung Fu, and he is going to use it to conquer China. Only Po and the furious five can stop him. On the way Po will discover links to his past and his mysterious origins until finally understanding the strength he needs to beat Shen and succeed in stopping the weapon.
…the lavish animation explodes with armies of villains…
If the first film was about becoming the Dragon Warrior then the sequel is really about showing it off. Kung Fu Panda had some amazing fight scenes, but the action steps up a couple of knotches as we see, from the outset, a band of wolves taking on the furious five and Po, while all the time defending a village of Rabbits. As the film moves on, the lavish animation explodes with armies of villains facing off against our heroes and even the main villain Lord Shen, an albino peacock, is a beauty to withhold as his white plumage darts across the screen, throwing sharpened feathers and dodging hits with a spear.
If you’re not a fan of action movies, go for the spectacle of a small bird facing off against three Kung Fu masters: a Crocodile, water Ox and Rhino. You really won’t be disappointed in the fluidity and amount of time given to each of the characters’ actions. A testament of martial arts and one that the animators have really done their research into.
…the emotional investment that the audience takes in its characters…
Beyond the stunning colour schemes and attention to detail (check out Gongmen City for intricacies) the film also has several interesting themes that lead to some very emotional moments. Po’s past makes an appearance and we learn how he came to have a goose for a father. The film makers opt for different types of cartoon animation for Flashbacks (cell shaded) and a paper type for looking at the Past. The link between Po’s biological parents and the events of the film highlight the emotional investment that the audience takes in its characters and although they are all still animals I did shed a tear.
Parent issues are a predominant theme that surfaces in both the heroes and villains and although serving as something that is explored and overcome, the final scene does leave the film open to a sequel, but diminishes the closure found in the parental issue. This was the only thing I could fault with this film.