Prepare for the Year of Awesomeness!
Po is now living his dream as The Dragon Warrior, protecting the Valley of Peace alongside his friends and fellow kung fu masters, The Furious Five - Tigress, Crane, Mantis, Viper and Monkey. But Po’s new life of awesomeness is threatened by the emergence of a formidable villain, who plans to use a secret, unstoppable weapon to conquer China and destroy kung fu. It is up to Po and The Furious Five to journey across China to face this threat and vanquish it. But how can Po stop a weapon that can stop kung fu? He must look to his past and uncover the secrets of his mysterious origins; only then will he be able to unlock the strength he needs to succeed.
ActorsStarring: Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Dustin Hoffman, Gary Oldman, Jackie Chan, Lucy Liu, Seth Rogen, David Cross, Michelle Yeoh, James Hong, Danny McBride, Dennis Haysbert, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Victor Garber, Mike Bell, Jason Bertsch, Michael DeMaio, Shane Glick, Lena Golia, April Hong, Joseph Izzo, Alexandra Gold Jourden, Stephen Kearin, Liam Knight, Paul Mazursky, Dan O'Connor, Jeremy Shipp, Maury Sterling, Fred Tatasciore, Lauren Tom, Romy Rosemont, Conrad Vernon
Kung Fu Panda 2 is a fantastical film that perfectly follows up the first movie. Many aspects of the film are done just the right way, from character development to the hero vs. villain conflict to aesthetics and more. This film is equal to Dreamworks’ other epic sequel films, like Shrek 2 and How to Train Your Dragon 2. Despite being known as underdogs to Disney, Dreamworks continually puts out somewhat underacknowledged movies that are still pretty darn good. With a powerful blend of action, comedy, and storytelling, Kung Fu Panda 2 more than holds its own.
Being a sequel, we already know a bit about some of the characters here. Going in we already know a lot about Po so, while the film still focuses on him a lot, we have more time for side characters. The Furious Five all get more developed here (particularly Tigeress) as they accompany Po on this new adventure. Po/Jack Black’s arc focuses less on who he is and more on why he is that way. And extending from there, what kind of person he will grow into in his life as the Dragon Warrior. As is usually the case with heroes, Po is largely shaped by the villains he faces.
Shen gets a fair amount of screen time and was a much better villain than Tai Lung in the first film. That is not to say Tai Lung was a bad villain, there is just so much more to Shen. Audiences get to see more of Shen’s past, his goals are much grander, and the atrocities he commits are darker. The way his movements are animated are also very elegant; the animators took advantage of his peacock body and incorporated that into his fighting style. He sees himself as a poised gentleman while his temper and ruthlessness show his true self: an arrogant, merciless monster.
The creators of Kung Fu Panda 2 clearly did their research regarding China more ways than one. The land in the film is referred to as “China” by the characters, just with talking animal people here. The landscape, from farmlands to mountains, all resemble China’s actual geography. The architecture of the buildings, the food characters eat, everything is taken from Chinese culture. The villain Shen is even a white peacock (white symbolizes death in China). The Kung Fu Panda series even caused a stir in China regarding how accurate they are for American made films. While Disney still wins all the awards, Dreamworks shows its own films are on par (except Shrek 3 & 4).