‘Kung Fu Panda 2′ - double the delight (IANS Movie Review - Rating: ****)

May 27th, 2011 - 6:15 pm ICT by IANS  

Angelina Jolie Film: “Kung Fu Panda 2″; Director: Jennifer Yuh; Voiceovers: Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Gary Oldman, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, Jean-Claude Van Damme; Rating: ****

The trailer of “Kung Fu Panda 2″ claimed that the film comes with ‘double the awesomeness’. For a change, the final product indeed lives up to the tall claims of its trailer with a film that is both funnier and darker than its prequel.

Our fat, lovable and perennially hungry Panda Po (Jack Black), though accepted by his dragon warrior mates is not accepted by master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman). Meanwhile, China has to contend with the rise of Lord Shen (Gary Oldman) who has a master weapon with which he is bent upon destroying Kung Fu and bringing China under his power. The only ones who can stop him is our motley gang of warriors. But the secrets to Po’s quest for his parents will threaten their mission.

“Kung Fu Panda” took upon the well-known concept of the different fighting styles known in Kung Fu and instead of humans doing the different animals’ styles, had the animals do their own styles.

It invented gags and situations that left the audiences laughing. This part not only takes the elements from the first that made it so popular, but builds upon it to humorous consequences.

The film is also an example of how despite being limited by the idiosyncrasies of the characters and situations set in the first part, the modifications and adaptations can be simply wonderful and original under the careful pen of imaginative writers and the camera of a skilled director.

The film is funnier, yet the emotional search of the Panda’s roots and an evil, power-hungry villain makes it much darker than the original while also making it engaging for serious adults as well. Also, the metaphor of the film, against modernity and destructive science, is extremely serious and ‘adult’.

History tells us that the genesis of gunpowder, that changed the world, its politics and science, was in China. However, while the Chinese never went beyond using it for fun and fire works, it reached Europe through the Arabian traders.

Europe, and Christianity, was going through its dark age then and was engaged in a prolonged religious and economic war with Islam. What interestingly turned the tide in their favour was when the Europeans figured how to use gunpowder in guns. The rest as they say is history which saw Europe colonise most of the remaining world, including China.

“Kung Fu Panda 2″ makes an allegory of the same in the form of Lord Shen (Gary Oldman) who, like the Europeans, figures out the use of gun powder in canons and sets out to destroy China itself. However, while unarmed Kung Fu fighters are able to prevent him in the film, the reality of what Europe did to the world with their new found power is much more destructive.

Besides your usual voiceover, the film also features the voices of some other martial arts favourites, include Jean-Claude Van Damme and Jackie Chan to the delight of martial arts fans.

The force is definitely stronger with this sequel that expands upon the vistas of the original and whose end foretells another instalment. In itself, it is a film not to be missed by young and old alike.

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