Home > Movie Reviews > My fist hungers for justice! – on continuity and expansion in “Kung Fu Panda 2”

My fist hungers for justice! – on continuity and expansion in “Kung Fu Panda 2”

There is something very dangerous about sequels (and prequels and further additions). They can either be fantastic or terrible. Having thoroughly enjoyed “Kung Fu Panda,” I was hesitant to check out its sequel; how could anything top the original in terms of comic action, great voice acting, and an uplifting story? Luckily for us, “Kung Fu Panda 2” not only built on its predecessor, but also expanded the reach of its story to give us 1.5 hours of despair and delight!

The story continues: fatty panda Po, now the Dragon Warrior, happily protects the Valley of Peace along with the Furious Five, but a new trouble has arisen. Lord Shen, a peacock prince, is exiled and deprived of his birthright to rule. In revenge, he has invented a Weapon that threatens to overcome and extinguish all of Kung Fu! This new villain is elegant, an albino peacock with red and black eyes – he is more refined than the last movie’s Tai Lung, and also has more complicated issues.

Ever wonder why Po’s father is a goose? Apparently, he’s adopted! Big surprise, right? The story begins with Po experiencing a flashback/nightmare that throws him off guard. This causes him to confront his goose father and begin his search for answers to his mysterious past. The second movie deals heavily with the issue of parentage – our villain Lord Shen was banished by his parents, and Po’s parents are MIA – of course, the two end up talking about this connection.
The intimacy this approach takes, paralleled with the grand scale of Lord Shen’s plans (his goal is to have all of China bow down at his feet), gives the audience a great balance and scope of topics. The movie also stresses a similar topic as the first movie – a very soft, gentle (one might almost say squishy) approach to martial arts. Master Shi Fu tells Po at the beginning of the movie that he needs to “find inner peace” in order to grow as a warrior. It takes the whole movie, but the audience cheers Po on every second of the way.

Again, Jack Black is the perfect voice to fatty Po; Angelina Jolie provides a mature and solid voice for the hardcore Tigress, and Jackie Chan provides his typical comic relief as Monkey. The story’s action is nonstop, as is the humor; there are terribly sad scenes and also ridiculously comic ones. The leaps by which 3D animation has grown is really amazing; the expression on Po’s mother in one flashback is unbelievably emotional.

Overall – 4.5/5; a great, polished and surprisingly sophisticated sequel, “Kung Fu Panda 2” is an adventure well worth watching. There’s also a bit of a cliffhanger at the end of the movie, setting the stage for a potential third installation, which I hope will be just as great as this second one was.

Best regards,
Apple

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