Among the Kung Fu Panda movies, the first remains my favorite. Not only did it have a more interesting character arc for Po (one of my favorite martial artists in fiction) but it’s by far with the most depth. Master Oogway’s “present” quote is one of the most memorably profound movie lines I’ve ever encountered (I find its powerful truth resonating with relevance in my life till this day). Nevertheless, I enjoyed Kung Fu Panda 3 as much as its predecessors.
In Kung Panda 3, Po is reunited with his biological father – something foreshadowed at the end of the second movie. Meanwhile, a powerful immortal named Kai – who is capable of turning warriors into jade amulets, stealing their chi, and putting them under his control – arrives from the spirit world. Kai used to be Master Oogway’s friend, but his greed for power left Oogway no choice but to banish him to the spirit world. Now that he’s back in the mortal world, he’s keen of destroying Oogway’s legacy – by demolishing the Jade Palace and enslaving his students. Learning that only a master of true chi can defeat Kai, Po goes with his father to the secret panda village so that he can learn it since chi is supposedly an inherent ability of pandas. As Po learns more of his kind’s fun-loving ways and undergoes “training”, Master Shifu and the Furious Five are left at the Jade Palace to slow Kai down.
Watching Kung Fu Panda 3, I noticed that it has a similar core plot line with the first two movies: a powerful villain arrives, and in order to defeat him, Po has to learn a new kung fu technique, which he only learns after experiencing a resounding defeat in battle. Still, the sequels execute this template extremely well and wrap interesting subplots around it that they still achieve being endearing and fresh.
The all-star cast’s voice acting is engaging, especially Jack Black, whose performance as Po is as adorable, hilarious, and vibrant as the overall movie. The action sequences are great, though the previous movie’s was better, in my opinion. And the narrative is satisfyingly well-paced.
Kung Fu Panda 3 is an energetic, cute, funny, and visually pleasing animated movie that can be unanimously enjoyed by every member of the family.
It’s not in the same level as Toy Story, but Kung Fu Panda can now also boast of succeeding as a quality trilogy (which very few animated movie franchises can do). There’s no need to follow up with another movie, but if the studio chooses to do so, I would welcome it – even if it adapts that uniform story structure once again.