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Review: 'Kung Fu Panda 3', fart jokes 0

Your rating: None Average: 3.6 (5 votes)

kungfupanda3_0.jpgThe word that best describes the Kung Fu Panda film series, in my opinion, is "classy."

Which is surprising, because DreamWorks Animation was not known as a classy studio. The studio got its start with Shrek (a movie studio founder Jeffrey Katzenberg consider's DreamWorks' "North Star," whatever that means), which didn't introduce the fart joke to mainstream animation, but certainly played a big part in popularizing it. It's not a classy movie, is what I'm saying, and it has no pretensions otherwise. And so, for seven years, that was DreamWorks, where the world of animated movies was you were either Disney or Pixar, or you were, at best, the angry rejects who could only hope to stand out by virtue of crassness.

Enter Kung Fu Panda, a movie that features Jack Black as an overweight anthropomorphic panda with a nervous eating habit. The fart jokes should have written themselves, right? I went into that movie expecting a fun "romp," an innocuous time waster with a couple friends. Even as a furry, a DreamWorks animation movie, even one about anthropomorphic animals, meant it was, at best, going to be okay. Instead, it felt like a lightning strike; this was a real movie. It respected its characters, its setting, its story, its audience. And then, somehow, the sequel was even better.

So, anyway, Kung Fu Panda 3 is also pretty good. And also way classier than my headline, which contains the word fart. I guess you could describe that headline as "gassy." And this review now contains more fart jokes than the entire Kung Fu Panda trilogy. Isn't that funny?

The Story

The movie begins in the spirit realm, where we find the kung fu turtle Master Oogway (voiced by Randall Duk Kim) meditating on inner peace, as kung fu masters in the spirit realm are naturally inclined to do. He is interrupted by Kai (voiced by J.K. Simmons), who is what the Kung Fu Panda wikia assures me is a yak, though I have my doubts, and also a master of defeating and collecting kung fu masters (just like Pokémon!). By collecting Oogway, he'll be able to return to the mortal realm, and destroy all of Master Oogway's students in a revenge scheme. Turns out, Oogway and Kai have a history.

Meanwhile, in the mortal realm, Master Shifu (voiced by Dustin Hoffman) gives Po the duty of becoming the new teacher at the dojo, despite the fact he's not very good at it. Po goes home to his adopted goose father, Mr. Ping (voiced by James Hong), only to find that he's not Po's only father at the noodle shop today. Po is reunited with his biological father, Li (voiced by Bryan Cranston), which turns out not to be entirely coincidental.

It also turns out Kai, who has been sending jade statues of long dead kung fu masters to attack various living kung fu masters, is a master of chi, which is what he uses to capture and enslave the masters. However, he learned about chi from a remote village of pandas, so Li can take Po to the village and teach him the technique he needs to defeat Kai. Right?

Just writing it out for this review, I'm realizing there is a lot of backstory in this movie, but I assure you, the movie handles it much more gracefully than, well, this review, for example.

The Characters

If there is one "original sin" with the Kung Fu Panda franchise, it's the Furious Five (Angelina Jolie voicing Master Tigress, Jackie Chan as Monkey, Seth Rogen as Mantis, Lucy Liu as Viper and David Cross as Crane). That is not to say that the Furious Five aren't awesome; they are completely awesome! It's just, from a storytelling point, there are about four too many of them, and the movies have continually struggled to give them something to do other than get beat up by the bad guy (they, seriously, have not won a fight without Po in any movie). Lucy Liu's Viper gets the shaft especially hard this time; she has the least screen time and lines of any of the five, including Jackie Chan's Monkey (I love Chan, but he's not an English voice actor, and the movies have known this from the beginning). Crane, however, does for once get a scene all to himself (in which he gets beat up), and Seth Rogen as Mantis is very obviously trying to steal every scene he's in, which is kind of impressive for an animated character. But, the truth is, this is a franchise called Kung Fu Panda, not The Furious Five, and they have always been a bit superfluous (I assume they get their own spotlight episodes in the TV series, a medium where a team dynamic is better suited, but I don't actually watch it, so I can't be sure).

Master Tigress, once again, is left as the only member of the Furious Five to get to do anything of note, or to have her own character arc (though it's a bit in the background). And, no, there still isn't direct acknowledgement of a relationship, or possibility of relationship, beyond "friends," between Po and Tigress. Somewhere in the spirit realm, Roger Ebert is disappointed. As far as "cross species pollination" is concerned, the ball is now in Zootopia's court.

But speaking of romance, there is a female panda, Mei Mei, and she does flirt with Po, but not in a way that feels like Po/Tigress shippers should despair for Kung Fu Panda 4. She's voiced by Kate Hudson, who is doing her gamest Rebel Wilson impression, due to fact that she replaced Wilson as the voice of the character fairly late in the process. J.K. Simmons also replaced Mads Mikkelsen as the voice of Kai; that was a bit earlier, and the role feels like it was changed more for the new actor (I have trouble hearing Mikkelsen's voice bantering with Po quite as much).

This was probably a consequence of the movie's dance around the release calendar (it was at one point a 2015 release, but also danced around a March release for a while). There were also changes behind the camera; Alessandro Carloni joined Kung Fu Panda 2 director Jennifer Yuh as co-director, apparently at Yuh's request.

Conclusion

This is, hands down, the funniest Kung Fu Panda movie. Which is an accomplishment. I'm also going to say its the weakest, overall, of the three. However, don't construe that as a pan of the movie; this is still solidly a "go see this movie, like, right now" review. And I don't mean that like "if you're a furry," either. I mean this is a good movie, period. The fact that it's not as good as Kung Fu Panda and Kung Fu Panda 2 is not a slight, because those movies are also fantastic. The fact that they're furry is just icing on the cake.

Seriously, the movie started playing, and I just started smiling. Because it's just great to be watching it.

Comments

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

Good Work, you made me want to see Kung Fu Panda 2 & 3.

I am large grey draft horse of no pedigree whatsoever. There is no problem so large that a nice juicy red apple can't distract me from it. My first novella, THE GOAT: BUILDING THE PERFECT VICTIM won the 2016 Cóyotl Award for Best Novella.
https://www.we

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

Somewhere I read a comment that I think really fits with the KFP trilogy. Number 2 feels like Empire Strikes Back - and it really is the darkest of the movies. In that fashion, the third one also feels a bit like Jedi Returns - there is resolution to a number of things that arc'd over the series.

The three movies complement each other well, there is character growth of Po and I think to a lesser extent Shifu and Tigress over the series.

Your rating: None Average: 1 (1 vote)

People need to stop expecting something better when watching sequels. You cannot improve past a certain point. After that point, "better" stops, and "different" begins.

I literally wrote a wall of text, and then deleted it in favor of three sentences. I'll copy+paste the wall of text on my blog instead.

Well, I'll be...

Your rating: None Average: 2.3 (3 votes)

I don't think I ever saw the second one but I don't remember the first being that amazing. I can only recall a few scenes and I'm probably missing part of the plot. It evidently didn't make an impressions.

Although I do now I'm not a huge fan of movies in general. I often find them too long for casual watching and the short time-frame of the narrative makes any sort of believable character development difficult. It's usually, "These people like each other now, just accept it!"

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

Your rating: None Average: 1.9 (7 votes)

Although I do now I'm not a huge fan of movies in general.

Well, then, do us both a favor and never watch another one again. And if you backslide, feel free to keep it to yourself.

Your rating: None Average: 4.5 (2 votes)

Wow, that's unnecessarily mean. And I never said I don't enjoy any movies.

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

Your rating: None Average: 2 (2 votes)

You are both right. And wrong. And one is too mean, while the other is too nice.

Well, I'll be...

Your rating: None

It's a feminist. If it ain't dead, it's mean. And that's why the former are the only good ones.

They're a bit like rattlesnakes, except they don't taste as good once you grill'em. Nor as cute.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

I assumed from the posters that this was going to be a terrible babies-ever-after instalment (loved the first movie, haven't caught up with the second yet). But now I want to see it!

~ Huskyteer

Your rating: None Average: 1 (1 vote)

Reviewer's recommendation: resist the temptation to see 3 before 2. Not so much because of spoilers, plot wise, but a big, cathartic scene is replayed from 2 with a lot less context in 3 (and a conscious cinematic decision that is heartbreaking in context ends up looking like a glitch in the animation without it).

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

That was really a pleasant surprise, the trailers and advertisements made it feel like that was going to be a big thing in the movie and (thankfully) it was only a few short scenes :)

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

ALL of the Kung Fu Panda movie trailers have made the movies seem sillier than they actually are. In each case, watching them, the Feels have been a pleasant surprise. That full scene in 3 that Crossaffliction alluded to is wonderful. But I agree -- See 2 first. It's well worth it.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

Good review! :D

I'm kinda happy they shoved the female panda a bit into the background, I can only imagine what kind of dynamic she would've had if voiced by Rebel Wilson instead. I think that would've been kinda funny to give Po a female version of himself to joke with, and become friends with as opposed to a love interest. I was a bit upset that Tigress got the background treatment, but I liked her and Po's little spat when he's training.

The villain was definitely weaker, but I guess that was to be expected.

One thing I was kinda looking for was a loose end for a fourth film. The second one ended pretty well with big hints at the sequel but I didn't see a sequel hinted at here unless I missed something.

The callbacks were great, the jokes were great, the animation was great, I hope this movie kills it at the box office, DreamWorks not only needs it, but they're seriously gonna have to make a large profit so they don't get hit too hard when Trolls bombs at the box office later in the year. And trust me, if you heard the groan in the audience when the teaser came on, you'd have been stifling a laugh like I was. XD

Also, no Zootopia trailer when I saw it. But I did see the new Angry Birds trailer with the infamous 'pee' joke that people were getting upset about. Honestly it was pretty hilarious. It's one thing to have characters act stupid just cause, but to actually have untold consequences for their stupidity just makes the cause and effect humor more punchy. I'm really excited to see it now.

Great movie, pretty much awesome, but my favorite is still #2. :3

I'm a different furry with different opinions.

Proud Staffer of VancouFur 2017~

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

My brother liked the part of the Troll trailer where one died horribly.

Your rating: None

If there's no obvious sequel links, it might be they intend for the next one to start a new "trilogy"

Also the Birds movie isn't made by Hollyweird, the game's studio has more control than normal in adaptions, so that's probably why the humour's a higher calibre. No risk-averse culture across the pond.

(Most likely reason being with such a hot property they could drop and accept any other partnerships at will)

Also quite a bit of unstated "adult bonus" material it looks like.

Your rating: None Average: 3 (1 vote)

Honestly I was a bit disappointed with KFP3. So many of the jokes felt... stale, especially the beginning with the "I'm looking for my father, well I'm looking for my son!" There might not have been as much crude humor in this one but I never felt that was really an issue with the KFP series though my memories of the earlier films are not fresh. And yeah, kept waiting for the Po/Tigress relationship to get some attention but even during obvious opportunities they let it slide.

Although it was enjoyable, I would not put it in the same category as the first two and I'll put two big disappointing items below: warning of course that they contain some Spoilers.

1. The Villain Kai. The introduction of this character had immense potential, I really liked the epic battle scenes and especially how it started off between him vs Oogway. But then didn't you start to feel that this character was a tad bland? What was really his motivation? Forget the timing issues which I thought didn't quite make sense - Oogway has been around for five hundred+ years? Why did Kai suddenly decide to go on a killing spree even against a friend he risked his life to save, and why/how did he also learn the chi technique and why did he need to go after the Pandas? Some of the nicknames he went by gave him a more sinister sounding feel but up until he betrayed Oogway and was killed shortly after, he was a brother in arms to the turtle so would he have been evil? The sudden switch from love to hate didn't feel well thought out as more than a cheap plot device.

Both Tai Lung and Lord Shen had very relateable motivations - they sought approval from their parents and were ultimately rejected. So there's a very easy to understand motivation for them to become the villain. You get the feeling Kai has a similar motivation (at one point he rants about his "brother" betraying him) but it's not well laid out or given more than a passing comment.

In hindsight there wasn't much to Kai's technique either, it was mainly his weapons which defined him. And is anyone else disappointed he didn't activate Jade Oogway? I kept waiting for it but... didn't happen.

2. The ending. Oh gawd the end of every single KFP movie is exactly the same - Po gets a brief view of an ancient technique and ultimately figures it out on his own and uses it. How boring! Could they not have come up with something different this time? Maybe... actually use the Furious Five with their wealth of kung fu training and knowledge over Po's gut instinct (pardon the pun)?

A third missed opportunity I'll point out - wouldn't it have been fantastic if Kai had brought up the captured spirits of Tai Lung and Shen also? Shen especially, I loved the brief scenes where he actually fought - he had such an elegant technique. Considering it's a kids movie, I felt like they should have made it more obvious that using the spirits did exactly what Oogway hinted at - it divided Kai's attention and ultimately split his ability over multiple fights, taking more than it added. I would have liked to learn more about the masters he used -the porcupine using his own quills as arrows was more interesting than Mantis I think :)

This movie seemed to wrap things up nicely for the series, I sorta hope there isn't another sequel.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (2 votes)

Geez Freaky Lynx, you've gotta get an account on this site soon. You've got some great things to say. I agree with all your points. The villain did feel kinda weak and just there for the plot. It felt less like a movie and more like an extended TV episode. XP
The parent comment is actually a good one. Man I wish you had an account. x3

I THOUGHT I WAS THE ONLY ONE THAT THOUGHT THIS. I was holding my breath during the movie hoping for a return from Shen or Tai Lung, that would've been great! But I guess not. And the Furious Five really got shafted this time. XP

They plan to make 3 more so I guess we'll see what happens. x3

I'm a different furry with different opinions.

Proud Staffer of VancouFur 2017~

Your rating: None Average: 5 (2 votes)

I was half expecting Shen and Tai Lung to show up also, I'll admit. At least now we know precisely what HAPPENED to Tai Lung.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

Yeah, at least this movie answered that one :)

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

Wait, they said?! I just saw it for a second time! Did I miss that?!

I'm a different furry with different opinions.

Proud Staffer of VancouFur 2017~

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

They didn't say that. They SHOWED that.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

What did they show?! ;w;

I'm a different furry with different opinions.

Proud Staffer of VancouFur 2017~

Your rating: None Average: 1 (1 vote)

What happens to a person after they get Wushi-finger-holded.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

Oh. Didn't really answer it, though. I mean yeah we saw but there was no mention of Tai Lung. XP

I'm a different furry with different opinions.

Proud Staffer of VancouFur 2017~

Your rating: None Average: 1 (1 vote)

There didn't need to be.

Tai Lung was Wushi-ed. This is what happens to people who get Wushi-ed. Therefore, this is what happened to Tai Lung.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

Po didn't die so that means Tai didn't die, doesn't it?

I'm a different furry with different opinions.

Proud Staffer of VancouFur 2017~

Your rating: None Average: 4.7 (3 votes)

It wasn't specific on that point but a case could be made that only spirits exist in the spirit realm - so getting there through death or other means doesn't matter because if you weren't dead when you got there then you were dead on arrival. It's possible though that Kai wasn't killed five hundred years earlier either but instead had the Wushi hold used on him as well.

It's interesting that we see only three people in the spirit realm - Po, Kai, and Oolong. Po went there using the wushi-hold, Oolong kinda-sorta died? He disappeared from the moral plane almost like Obi-Wan (see my other comment on how some of the KFP films have similar flavors to Star Wars Episodes 4 through 6 :) ). So did Oolong die or did he do some sort of technique similar to the wushi-hold when he'd had enough of living? So Kai is the only one who may or may not have died in a more normal fashion.

In any case, Tai Lung would be trapped in the spirit realm just like Kai and Po were - it was only Oolong with some mystical powers (or the capturing of chi like Kai) that released him back into the mortal realm. Actually we could make a case that Po had extra chi to escape the spirit realm similar to Kai from all the chi the pandas were sending his way and maybe Oolong just used a technique to release that power and Po from the spirit realm.

eh... it's all guessing unless we hear from the director or writers on this point but I'd say it's pretty safe to assume Tai Lung is no longer alive and can't return to the land of the living without some major hoodoo.

On a sorta side-note, we also don't know if there's anything other than that spirit realm we saw - because it did seem pretty devoid of spirits. Kai had maybe a dozen captured spirits on his belt so he can't be the sole reason for that. Maybe the spirit realm we saw was more of a limbo between heaven and hell, or some sort of place of meditation rather than a final destination for the deceased. It would have made the case further that the spirit realm was more a way-station if Tai Lung was there (because of the wushi-hold), then maybe we could assume the other masters didn't really die normally but departed through weird techniques that released their spirits from the world.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

Hitting the non-existent "Like" button. But just to mention it: It's Oogway, not Oolong ^^

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If you like a comment, you may wish to rate it highly using the stars.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

Ack, you are correct ^.^'''

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"Geez Freaky Lynx, you've gotta get an account on this site soon."

I know!
*facepaws*

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

Yeah please do! :D

I'm a different furry with different opinions.

Proud Staffer of VancouFur 2017~

Your rating: None Average: 2 (1 vote)

I didn't see KFP 1 or 2... I would prefer to avoid this one but gotta love going out with nephews. It made for a bad movie experience. I'd love to judge it on it's own merits as a story. Some sequels stand up like that, but not this one.

The weak first act left no impression beyond what you get from 'tude poses on the posters. It got going in the second act when Po's two fathers had conflict and resolved it. That was the high point of the movie. The rest of the hero wish fulfillment story was completely by the numbers. It made me roll my eyes because I want villains with motivation to be on screen besides just deserving an ass kicking.

I've seen some great kung fu movies full of inventive physical choreography and editing. Animation made that feel like no challenge. Everyone has magic strength while they fly around super-busy overcooked visuals. I didn't see much reason to anthropomorphize. The best use I saw was extra cartoony expression of the various bird characters and their designs. A lot of the background art felt too busy and overdesigned, I most liked some of the quieter exterior scenes.

I went in with low expectation and it didn't beat them or make me want to see the first two. I felt like this was for fans who love the previous ones enough to wear the shirt. That's probably a decent chunk of kids so whatever.

Your rating: None Average: 1 (1 vote)

Well, there you go: A one and a two.

"The dynamite would've exploded by now."

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

For the record, my sister Sherry took me in my wheelchair to see "Kung Fu Panda 3" this morning. I liked it better than 1 or 2. It was preceded by the teaser trailer for "Trolls". I agree with Cassidy; it's fortunate that DreamWorks Animation has "KFP 3" this year because "Trolls" looks like a bomb. Sherry liked it, though.

Fred Patten

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About the author

crossaffliction (Brendan Kachel)read storiescontact (login required)

a reporter and Red Fox from Hooker, Oklahoma, interested in movies, horror, stand up comedy

Formerly Wichita's only furry comic.