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Review: 'Legend of a Rabbit' is impossible to enjoy

Your rating: None Average: 4 (8 votes)

Legend of a RabbitPart of my fate in the fandom seems to involve finding bad foreign animated films. Granted, most folks in the fandom couldn't be bothered to know about them anyway, but if I can stop even a handful of people from wasting their time, that's a good thing. So: Don't bother watching Legend of a Rabbit (trailer).

After DreamWorks released Kung Fu Panda in 2008, the high production quality – especially its attention to cultural details – caused a bit of a jealous and nationalistic stir within the Chinese government. Why had China not managed to keep pace with Western animation?

Three years, $18 million and several hundred animators later, the Beijing Film Academy and Tianjin Film Studio came up with Legend of a Rabbit (Tu Xia Chuan Qi). And it's terrible.

Shifu (which means "Master"), is the most experienced kung fu artist in China, but he's getting old, so he sends a young rabbit student named Biggie to find his estranged daughter, Peony, to ask her to return and become the new master of the Tiger Martial Academy. Shortly afterwards, Shifu is attacked and fatally wounded by Slash, one of his best students, who is taking over the Academy for himself.


Before Shifu dies, he stumbles into the film's main character: a large, clumsy, stupid rabbit named Tu. He gives Tu the film's MacGuffin, a small tablet that authenticates the leadership of the Academy, and tells him to deliver it to Peony. He also mystically transfers all of his kung fu into the rabbit. Tu abandons his job as a maker of fried cakes (his only talent) to search for Peony, but utterly forgets about being given kung fu powers, despite the whirling golden lights and everything else from the mystical transfer experience. Yes, he is an Idiot.

Meanwhile, Biggie has found Peony, and they're on their way back to the city. Along the way, they rescue Tu from two bandits. When they introduce themselves, Tu mistakenly thinks Peony's name is "Pony" — and retains this misconception for most of the film, stretching the use of the Idiot Ball to such an extent that it's impossible to laugh or suspend your disbelief. The rest of the film... do I have to write about this?

Tu gets tricked into becoming kitchen staff at the Academy, but his clumsiness gets him banned from the kitchen, leaving him to deliver and wash dishes. Peony and Biggie sneak in to gather intel and confront Slash, who injures Peony, so she hides in an old temple while Tu brings her food and water and helps her recover. Slash's minions follow Tu and capture him, while Peony gets away.

Finally, Slash holds a martial arts competition to prove how great he is to all the other masters, which he thinks will help him take over the world or something, but gets his ass handed to him by Peony and Tu. Tu returns to his humble life making fried cakes.

So much of this film relies on Tu being an idiot that it's really impossible to enjoy. Shifu has to show up in his dreams twice to make him understand that he's got kung fu powers, even after they've belatedly begun to subconsciously manifest. Then there's Biggie, an ugly little braggart and smart-ass with less appeal than the Asian kid in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Slash is an intimidating bad guy – obviously just a big bully, but a dangerous one who's quite willing to instantly poison or kill any opposition. And what a coincidence, the antagonist is a panda! Well, a polar bear who's painted himself to look like a panda. Several people point out how silly it looks over the course of the film.

Peony is the only sympathetic character. She's skilled and smart, and in the tradition of wuxia films, her martial arts powers allow her to jump and fly incredible distances. Peony is... either a fox or a cat? Her tail is never seen, so I'm guessing a cat, based solely on her nose being pink. Given that Shifu is a monkey, I'm wondering if the father-daughter thing is something symbolic that got lost in translation.

The animation, visual design, and secondary characters leave much to be desired. China is a long way away from producing anything as good as DreamWorks' animation, and the contrived plot didn't help.

Writing more about this film would really be a waste of my time, so I'm not going to. Let's move on!

Comments

Your rating: None Average: 5 (2 votes)

So basically, they ripped off Kung-Fu Panda and removed all of the aspects that made it good. Sadly, Chinese bootleg film production does that quite a lot.

Your rating: None

It sounds like Japanese anime, South Korean, and GOOD Indian animation does not have anything to worry about.

Now, do you want to review "Sons of Rama" for us? Inquiring minds want to know if it can be worse than "Legend of a Rabbit".

Fred Patten

Your rating: None

Dammit Fred, I'm a reviewer, not a masochist! :-) 'Cause that trailer looks horrid. And anyway, it's got what - the Monkey King and a few assorted demons? Bah! Needs more mythological animals! If you're really really curious, I could, but to be honest I'd rather not.

Your rating: None

No; I think that the trailer for "Sons of Rama" is enough to make it clear that this is a Very Bad Movie; to be avoided at all costs. Also, that it follows Hindu scriptures so closely that it is a Sunday School equivalent of Hindu teachings, and you can get immeasureably better versions (and better drawn versions) in almost any of dozens of Indian comic books and live-action movies. I am mildly curious to learn how much of "Sons of Rama" is duplicated in "Krishna aur Kans", but not enough to want to make anyone sit through the former.

Fred Patten

Your rating: None

Is there a Monkey-style character in this movie voiced by a major, long-running Chinese star who has more than 2 or 3 lines of dialogue? Because that alone would at least be one massive improvement over 'Kung Fu Panda'.

Your rating: None

Shifu is a monkey and a kung fu master, but I don't know who does his voice-acting. He's got several lines at the beginning during a training session, then his dying words as he gives Tu his quest, then shows up late in the film in two dream sequences - so it's more than 3 lines of dialogue, but still a lot less in comparison to the other main characters.

Your rating: None

I want to see a film featuring Monkey in the Gorillaz style.

Edit: Well hey, at least there's a stage adaption.

Your rating: None

There is also a good BBC report on how the Gorillaz/Jamie Hewlett version of "Monkey" was made: http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/olympics/monkey/7514376.stm

Fred Patten

Your rating: None

When your state sniffles free speech it inevitably stifles artistic creativity.

Not saying, just saying...

Your rating: None

Uh...

Sniffles?

Your rating: None

You read that wrong, "Stifles" not "Sniffles"...

You know, that word Archie Bunker liked using on all in the family?

Your rating: None

Both words appear in the sentence I'm reading.

Unless the sniffles/stifles confusion is an All in the Family reference I missed.

Your rating: None

Oh, nope didn't see that, fixed now.

Or well, would be fixed except now it it seems you can't edit what has been replied to, which is something new.

Your rating: None

Funny, I still have an edit button on there . . . ;-)

Pretty sure it's always been that way.

Your rating: None

The Chinese animation industry has made some excellent films, even under the Communist government. But that was when it just ordered the filmmakers to, "Make a good movie!", and let them do their own thing -- a very Chinese feature. Not when it ordered them to make an imitation DreamWorks feature in an animation process that they're not really familiar with yet.

http://vimeo.com/3675925

Fred Patten

Your rating: None

Is it just me, or are there a lot of elements of this that are ripped straight off of Kung Fu Panda?

Plot aside, Tu looks a lot like Po, and Slash looks a lot like Tai Lung...

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

Er, did you really read this review?

Fred Patten

Your rating: None

... yes, I read the review. I'm talking visually, the frames resemble multiple scenes.

Your rating: None

Honestly it wasn't that bad. I think it was cute! I liked Peony ^.^ they're gonna have a sequel though, like it or not - and there is going to be a magician that captures animal's souls apparently! XD

Your rating: None

You wouldn't believe the amount of stuff in China that's named "The Legend of...". It's basically the most unoriginal title one could ever imagine :) Hilarious...

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