Kung Fu Panda 4 Movie Review

KUNG FU PANDA 4 is the story of a protagonist wanting the status quo while trying to fight an evil villain. All is well in the Valley of Peace under Po, the Dragon Warrior (voiced by Jack Black). Mr Ping (James Hong), Po’s adopted father and Li Shan (Bryan Cranston), Po’s biological father, have adjusted to each other and they open a restaurant. Suddenly, Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) orders Po to find his next successor. Shifu further tells Po that once he does so, the latter will become the Spiritual Leader of the Valley. Po is reluctant as he’s enjoying being the Dragon Warrior. Meanwhile, some villagers alert Po that Tai Lung (Ian McShane; antagonist in the first part) has returned. Po decides to defeat him. This is when he catches Zhen (Awkwafina), a thief, stealing ancient weapons from the Jade Palace. Zhen happens to hear about Tai Lung’s return during her arrest and informs Po that Tai Lung is none other than The Chameleon (Viola Davis), a powerful sorceress who can shape-shift into any animal she wants. Zhen also claims to know about The Chameleon’s whereabouts. Po decides to go to The Chameleon’s lair and defeat her, against the advice of Master Shifu. What happens next forms the rest of the film.

The story is decent but also convenient. The screenplay is engaging and like the previous parts, the writers pack in a lot in less than 95 minutes. Hence, the audience gets the feeling that they have got their money’s worth despite the short run time. The dialogues are terrific, be it funny or the philosophical one-liners.

Mike Mitchell’s direction is neat. The fourth part introduces new characters and thanks to his execution, the audience will instantly form a bond with them. The series is known for cuteness and this film is no exception. At the same time, like always, the makers raise some important points about life without getting preachy. Some of the scenes that stand out are Tai Lung entry in the start of the movie, Zhen and The Chameleon’s entry, madness at the Happy Bunny Tavern, Po being betrayed and the pre-climax. The animation and the various effects match global standards. On the flipside, Po’s squad is surely missed. The climax fight begins well but to see the antagonist, who’s so powerful, being defeated rather easily, is a downer.