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Masand's Verdict: Kung Fu Panda


Rajeev Masand,CNN-IBN
Jul 12, 2008 at 09:28am IST

Cast: Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Jackie Chan, Angelina Jolie and Lucy Liu

Director: Mark Osborne, John Stevenson

It's hard not to like Kung Fu Panda even though there have been many smarter animation films recently. It tells the story of an overweight panda Po (voiced by Jack Black) who works for his father in a noodle shop, but secretly yearns to be a kung fu fighter.

Which is why he climbs up thousands of steps to the ancient temple where the Dragon Warrior will be chosen to face off against the dreaded villain Tai Lung who is believed to be planning his escape from an Alcatraz-like prison.

Dustin Hoffman lends his voice to Kung fu guru Master Shifu who lines up five of his best students before the temple master for his selection. Shifu's "Furious Five" comprise Monkey, Tigress, Mantis, Viper and Crane, all highly skilled fighters who could crack open your skull with one deadly move. Yet, as luck would have it, the temple master picks none of them, but roly-poly Po instead to be the Dragon Warrior.

Naturally what ensues are a series of laugh-out-loud moments as this hopeless panda with a total lack of skill is trained in the art of kung fu.

The film is an easy watch, enjoyable even, despite its formulaic 'against-all-odds' theme.

The real fun in Kung Fu Panda comes from the action scenes which are packed with energy and full of crazy little moments that'll have you in splits throughout. The all-star-cast voice talent also includes Jackie Chan, Angelina Jolie and Lucy Liu, but it's Dustin Hoffman doing his best gruff vocals as Master Shifu who is the finest talent on board.

It's also impossible not to lose your heart to Po, the klutzy, couch-potato panda who gets his attitude from Jack Black's amazing voice intonations. Kung Fu Panda is a visually stunning film whose animation is part-computer generated part-hand drawn, it's the kind of photorealistic 3-D animation that makes characters and locations come alive because they're so intricately detailed and fantastically executed.

I'm going with three out of five for Kung Fu Panda, if you're looking for a chance to let your hair down and to just have a good time this weekend, I doubt you'll find anything else that'll do the trick.

Rating: 3 / 5 (Good)

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