Kung Fu Panda 4 – REVIEW

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Kung Fu Panda 4 - Does Po go pow in this fourth film?

2006 saw the arrival of the first  Kung Fu Panda with the trilogy ending on a $521m high in 2016. So of course we now have a fourth film with the arrival eight years later of Kung Fu Panda 4. The cuddly loveable and always hungry panda Po is now a Dragon Warrior, having vanquished his enemies from the Valley of Peace and has found his real biological dad and has the bond with his adoptive goose dad too. But now Po must step up and under instruction from his Shifu (Dustin Hoffman doing an oriental accent – surely that can’t be right in this day and age) must take over as the valleys leader and the mantle of Dragon Warrior must be passed on to another chosen by him. It’s never really made clear why he must do either.

Unable to make up his mind his martial art skills are needed to find and defeat a shapeshifting chameleon (Viola Davis) who wants Po’s Staff of Wisdom (a euphemism surely) in order to channel the powers of Po’s previously vanquished villains now in the spirit world – wasn’t this also the plot of Kung Fu Panda 3 also? So off he sets with Zhen, a street smart sidekick voiced by Awkwafina who seems to have cornered the market in animated street wise sidekicks over the past few years. And off the they go to Juniper City where one of the films best running gags is that no one has ever heard of Po’s Dragon Warrior moniker which is met with blank faced stares every time he mentions it. What follows is a series of chases and fight sequences until the eventual Panda v Chamaeleon smack down.

What made the Kung Fu Panda series so distinctive from other animated features was its heavily influenced nods to Eastern films and use of style but there’s very little of that here just the very occasional  moment and the films look is a little generic now. It’s strength does lie in the creature characters that are distinctive and  brilliantly realized ( a psychotic trio of tots are great) but like so many trilogies of late (Matrix, Indiana Jones, Die Hard) Kung Fu Panda 4 having come to a satisfactory conclusion are the third film seems like a cash grab.

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Here’s the Kung Fu Panda 4 trailer….

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