Jack Black as Po (voice)
Angelina Jolie as Tigress (voice)
Gary Oldman as Lord Shen (voice)
Seth Rogen as Mantis (voice)
Jean-Claude Van Damme as Master Croc (voice)
Jackie Chan as Monkey (voice)
Dustin Hoffman as Shifu (voice)
David Cross as Crane (voice)
Lucy Liu as Viper (voice)
Michelle Yeoh as The Soothsayer (voice)
Dennis Haysbert as Master Oxen (voice)
Victor Garber as Master Thundering Rhino (voice)
James Hong as Mr. Ping (voice)
Directed by Jennifer Yuh
“Kung Fu Panda 2” is one of those rare sequels that are as good as the original. It’s also a film that both adults and children can enjoy. Check it out in theaters as the 3D on the big screen enhances the animation.
Since the first “Kung Fu Panda,” Po has fully embraced his role as the Dragon Warrior. He now fights alongside the Furious Five defending China and he enjoys every minute of it.
But when Po faces off with a gang of mysterious bandits, he unexpectedly experiences a flashback from his childhood. He realizes that the bandits and an evil peacock named Lord Shen were somehow involved in him being separated from his biological parents as an infant. Unsure what his flashbacks mean, Po finds his inner peace out of balance.
As Lord Chen unleashes his plan to rule China with a new ultimate weapon, Po and the Furious Five are called upon to stop him. But Po will have to face his dark past and restore his inner peace in order to save the day.
“Kung Fu Panda 2” is rated PG for sequences of martial arts action and mild violence.
“Kung Fu Panda 2” is one of those rare sequels that live up to the original. Everything that made the first film so much fun is still here and done in a way that doesn’t feel like a simple rehash of the first movie.
Po is still his lovable, fat self and he’s perfectly voiced by Jack Black. One of the things that make Po so much fun is how much he loves his role as a hero. He loves kung fu, he loves his friends, and he loves being the Dragon Warrior. It’s a refreshing change from the tortured hero we so often see. There’s a hilarious moment where Po and the Furious Five are flying into battle and Po takes a brief second to enjoy the moment and yell out, “I love you guys!” It’s a funny bit that perfectly captures the essence of Po. Jack Black is again supported by the excellent voice cast from the first movie. Angelina Jolie, Seth Rogen, Jackie Chan, Dustin Hoffman, David Cross, and Lucy Liu are all overshadowed by Black, but they are also all given moments to shine and generate laughs. James Hong also really stands out as Mr. Ping, Po’s adopted father. He provides some of the more touching moments of the story while still providing laughs as the silly looking goose.
The new villain for the movie is Gary Oldman as Lord Shen. On paper a villainous peacock is kind of a hard sell, but between Oldman’s voice and the brilliant character animation, Shen becomes a formidable baddie. Also look for brief appearances by Jean-Claude Van Damme as Master Croc, Michelle Yeoh as The Soothsayer, Dennis Haysbert as Master Oxen, Victor Garber as Master Thundering Rhino, and Danny McBride as the wold bandit.
3D is often hit or miss in movies. Sometimes it’s almost unnoticeable while other times it really enhances the moviegoing experience. In “Kung Fu Panda 2” it really enhances the animation. As Po and the Furious Five fly through the air, they literally fly out of the screen at you. As Lord Shen points his blade at the camera, it comes out of the screen. You see every hair on Shifu’s head, every ripple on a pond, and every chain hanging in a munitions factory. The 3D really helps you appreciate the animation on another level.
I also have to mention that the fight scenes are quite spectacular. They’re a great mix of true action-adventure and cartoon violence. Tigress and Po gracefully fly through the air battling bad guys in a spectacular display of martial arts, but they also do so by bouncing the villains off of Po’s belly, throwing him around comically, and dispatching bad guys in a manner worthy of Wyle E. Coyote… or possibly even Jackie Chan. The end result is a fun sight to behold.
On a final positive note, the movie ends on a great cliffhanger that shows what we can expect in a “Kung Fu Panda 3.” You’ll want to see more once you see it. (Also note that there’s no bonus scene after the credits like there was in the first movie. Take your kids out to pee instead.)
What Didn’t Work:
The only criticism I can really give “Kung Fu Panda 2” is that it is somewhat predictable. Even before you watch the movie you know that Po is going to defeat Lord Shen and save the day. And even in the first 5 minutes you can tell how he’s going to defeat him. All that remains is how the movie will unfold in-between. But, honestly, that’s a minor gripe. We know Thor, Green Lantern, and Captain America are going to save the day, too, and that doesn’t make them any less enjoyable.
The Bottom Line:
“Kung Fu Panda 2” is a movie that is fun for both adults and children. It’s one of those rare family films that are truly enjoyable for the whole family. And even if you don’t have kids it is worth checking out, especially in 3D on the big screen.