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Film REVIEW: Kung Fu Panda 4 (2024) - ★★★★★

Updated: May 1


Set your skadoosh loose with the much-anticipated DreamWorks sequel.


From plot, trailer and cast of Kung Fu Panda 4 – including Viola Davis as a lizard with attitude – to the secret of recording a convincing panda fart, here’s our movie guide.


Director: Mike Mitchell


Writer: Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger, Darren Lemke


Stars: Jack Black, Awkwafina, Bryan Cranston, James Hong, Ian McShane, Ke Huy Quan, Dustin Hoffman, Viola Davis.


Genre: Animation, Action, Adventure

Themes: Kung Fu, Panda, Sequel


After Po is tapped to become the Spiritual Leader of the Valley of Peace, he needs to find and train a new Dragon Warrior, while a wicked sorceress plans to re-summon all the master villains whom Po has vanquished to the spirit realm.

It is the fourth installment in the Kung Fu Panda franchise and the sequel to Kung Fu Panda 3 (2016).

The film received generally positive reviews from critics.


In Cinemas Now



MIX UP REVIEWS:


Jan (Age 12) - ★★★★

"This film was mediocre. I liked the story of Po, now that he is choosing the next dragon warrior. Po's journey from a noodle shop to dragon warrior still entertains me. I think that Zhen was awesome and the whole family of criminals were pretty cool. I didn't really like the Chameleon though.

The main problem with this film is that it is so predictable; 'Po goes to fight the worst villain he has faced so far, then he loses the fight, then he wins the fight'. That is pretty much what happens in Kung Fu Panda movies.

The storyline and the way Po has to move on from being dragon warrior is what highlights this film for me.

Overall, an okay film, with some good and bad qualities."


Nina (Age 11) - ★★★★★

"It was a really funny and adventurous movie. Jack Black voices the role of Po really well. And there's brand new characters to look forward to. Expect the fun of the first three films in this movie. It's a barrel of emotions. 5 stars - brilliant movie highly recommended."


Have you seen it yet?



 


Kung Fu Panda 4 buzz - Why is everyone talking about the new DreamWorks movie?


Trust Po to come back for a fourth helping. Sixteen years have passed since DreamWorks’ original Kung Fu Panda hit the animation scene, saluting vintage martial arts flicks and introducing Jack Black’s (Ice Age, The Holiday) loveable giant panda as the action hero whose black belt is about to burst.


Since then, the saga has kept rolling like a runaway dumpling, making unfeasible amounts of box-office loot, earning two Oscar nominations and being praised by The New York Times as “high concept with a heart”.


True, it’s been a long eight years since 2016’s Kung Fu Panda 3, with DreamWorks parking its plus-size panda to focus on the Trolls and Boss Baby universes. But the animation studio always promised a fourth Kung Fu Panda movie “if a fantastic story presents itself” – and now, with a slippery new baddie called The Chameleon channelling classic villains from across the franchise, Po will need to serve up a whole platter of knuckle sandwiches.


So twang your elasticated waistband, load up at our snack counter and settle in for an all-you-can-beat buffet as Kung Fu Panda 4 hits cinemas.


 

Kung Fu Panda 4 plot - What happens in the new DreamWorks movie?



Having held the title of Dragon Warrior for the past three movies, Po has taken a new role from Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman).


Trouble is, being Spiritual Leader of the Valley of Peace involves a whole lot of meditating under blossom trees, and the hungry panda can’t stop his mind from wandering (his mantra of ‘inner peace’ soon becomes ‘dinner with peas’).

But there’s a bigger problem: a shapeshifting sorceress called The Chameleon has risen from the shadows, resurrecting all of Po’s former foes – including the ferocious Tai Lung (Ian McShane - Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides) – before slurping up their kung fu skills to make herself the ultimate warrior.


With the Furious Five missing in action, Po’s going to need an army – and that’s where Zhen the corsac fox (Awkwafina - Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Jumanji: The Next Level) could come in handy.


Trouble is, this career thief only associates with fellow crooks – and can they really be trusted to get behind his cause?


Po and Zhen have this contentious journey together,” director Mike Mitchell (Shrek Forever After, Sky High) told Off Screen With Jillian.


“We get to see Po challenged by this sassy thief. Po sees things in black and white as there are heroes and villains. This new character is kind of a thief and villain, but she's also a friend and helping Po do this one last epic adventure and take down the villain.”


 

Cast of Kung Fu Panda 4 - Who is in the voice cast of the new Kung Fu Panda movie?



At this point, Jack Black’s pendulous panda is the non-negotiable MVP. “He is so invested in and so passionate about this character,” Mike Mitchell told The Hindustan Times.


“In fact, there's not a lot of difference between Kung Fu Panda and Jack Black. He's action-packed, he's enthusiastic and he's a fanboy!”


As for the trusty Furious Five – voiced by Angelina Jolie, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen (Shrek the Third) et al – Mitchell says they’re “off on their own individual missions”, but will appear in one pivotal scene. Elsewhere, as the director told The AU Review: “Everybody is back!”


That means Dustin Hoffman as exasperated Master Shifu, Ian McShane as velvet-voiced snow leopard Tai Lung, Bryan Cranston (Godzilla, Contagion) as Po’s biological father Li Shan and veteran character actor James Hong as the panda’s hysterical adoptive dad, Mr Ping the goose. “He’s 94 years old, this guy,” says Mitchell. “He’s the heart and comedy of all these films.”


There’s also a stack of new animals, the director told interviewer Devansh Sharma. “We've got a penguin. We've got a granny boar. We've got these three really cute bunnies that are able to become super-evil and attack people. The list goes on and on.”

 

Who is the villain for Kung Fu Panda 4?



Fast shaping up as Hollywood’s favourite villainess, Viola Davis’s (Ocean's Eleven, The Help) Chameleon is as cold-blooded as the serpents she wrangled in last year’s The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes.


She’s more smart and supernatural than any of the previous villains in Kung Fu Panda,” Mike Mitchell told Novastream.


She’s got weird, witchy skills that she uses. Viola does have some funny moments, but mostly she’s terrifying. She’s, like, a really scary and freaky villain!”


 

Kung Fu Pand 4 trivia - What's a fun fact about the new Kung Fu Panda film?



If you’ve watched the Kung Fu Panda 4 trailer with your kids, they probably roared with laughter at the moment when Po tries to suppress a sneeze while tiptoeing between sleeping enemies – and drops a squeaky trump instead.


As Mike Mitchell revealed in an interview with Nick L’Barrow, choosing the exact flavour of flatulence was the job of a dedicated team known as the Art Of The Fart Department.


“They were presented with no less than, like, 23 different farts to choose from, with all these different designs. It was ridiculous. You have no idea!”

 

Is Kung Fu Panda 4 the last movie?



Nothing’s confirmed – but there’s still plenty of juice in the Kung Fu Panda saga and Mike Mitchell dropped a heavy hint of future movies in a recent interview with Next Best Picture.


“It’s very possible. Like, I don’t think anyone will ever get tired of seeing Jack Black as this panda. I mean, he just is this panda.”

 

In cinema's now, and the big screen and surround sound can give the Dragon Warrior the hero’s return he deserves.


“We’re not a streaming service,” director Mike Mitchell told Next Best Picture. “Our focus was making just the greatest film possible to be seen in the movie theatre. And we’ve made the most epic chapter of the Kung Fu Panda franchise here.”


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