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Directors: Jennifer Yuh Nelson and Alessandro Carloni
Kung Fu Panda 3’s tongue in cheek opening scene carries a tone that’s maintained throughout the film, especially when stereotypical narrative devices such as dramatic entrances and expository monologuing are brought to viewers’ attention and gently made fun of.
Jonathan Aibel and Glen Berger, the seasoned writing team, are evidently returning to the tried-and-true, which quickly manifests in a disastrous first training session that harks back to Kung Fu Panda 1, right down to Po overhearing negative things about himself. That’s not the only thing that crops up; from supposedly blank scrolls to more stair jokes, to Po’s delightful naivety in regards to his parentage, this third instalment does not hesitate to remind viewers of its origins. Oddly, I also detected a few Harry Potter elements, with Oogway playing the part of Dumbledore.
A journey of Po’s continued self-discovery couched in kung fu, Kung Fu Panda 3 features yet another good-until-greed-for-power-corrupted-them villain with personal ties to one of the good guys. Kai makes his way out of the spirit world using chi, incapacitating the energies of kung fu masters and turning them into jade. Only a Master of Chi can stop him… we know how that ends, right?
For all its predictability and bluntness, the film delivers some important messages: the legitimacy of multiplicity and the importance of teamwork; the importance of family in all its forms; and the philosophy of bettering oneself. Additionally, I liked the accuracy in regards to what kung fu is about, because while self-defence and physical fighting skills are important, there is a very big component of self-discipline and mental strength in all of the martial arts.
To conclude: Kung Fu Panda 3 has a solid delivery of familiar content. It’s good.