Now showing in Hong Kong

Film review: Kung Fu Panda 3 – Po discovers his inner bear in enjoyably chaotic sequel

Great backdrops and smooth animation mix with fun action sequences, even if the plot never adds up

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 15 March, 2016, 10:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 15 March, 2016, 10:00am

A plot as patchy as a panda doesn’t mar the enjoyment of this third look at the animated high-kicking bear and his fighting animal friends. Although the story never adds up, the animation – which is mainly CGI, with some cool hand-drawn 2D scenes during the action – is super-smooth. An enthusiastic voice-over cast – including Angelina Jolie, Dustin Hoffman and Jack Black as the panda – injects sufficient brio to keep spirits high.

In part two, our heroic panda Po had to come to terms with his past. This time, he has to go one step further and find out who he really is. That’s because such self-knowledge will give him the qi force needed to defeat Kai, a marauding martial arts master from the spirit world. Po decides that he needs to focus on his inner panda to increase his powers – but will that tactic be enough?

READ MORE: ‘It’s an embarrassment of pandas’: Jack Black and cast talk Kung Fu Panda 3

The backdrops are an imaginative blend of chinoiserie, scroll paintings and, impressively, the bright reds of socialist poster art of the 1950s and 1960s. The action scenes are inventive, although they’re played for laughs, and don’t have much to do with kung fu, or even its anime variant.

Chinese concepts like yin and yang get a lot of lip service, but it’s really a chaotic mash-up of contradictory ideas. Western themes of individuality and existentialism bash headlong into Chinese concepts of communalism and fate, and nothing makes any sense. Having more Chinese on the team might have helped – but as we know, that’s not the Hollywood way.

Kung Fu Panda 3 opens on March 17

Want more articles like this? Follow SCMP Film on Facebook