Director: Jennifer Yuh
Writers: Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger
Stars: Jack Black, Angelica Jolie, Jackie Chan, Dustin Hoffman, Gary Oldman, Seth Rogen, Lucy Lui, David Cross
SYNOPSIS: As the Dragon Warrior, Po the Panda, along with the Furious Five, fights injustice. Now, Shen and a deadly weapon to end kung fu threaten Po and all of China.
A fuzzy, over-sized, squishy black-and-white panda with the power of kung fu returns in this sequel to the widely successful Kung Fu Panda. With over $630 million in worldwide box office (www.boxofficemojo.com), Kung Fu Panda 2 was a karate chop lock. And loaded with big voice talent and a bigger, more action-packed story line, Kung Fu Panda 2 pleases like a one-two punch.
Director Jennifer Yuh, no stranger to animation, gets promoted from being in charge of the story in the original Kung Fu Panda to being in charge of everything for the sequel. Po (Jack Black), Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Shifu (Dustin Hoffman), Monkey (Jackie Chan), Mantis (Seth Rogen), Viper (Lucy Lui), Crane (David Cross) and Mr. Ping (James Hong) return for more high kicking hi-jinks. Well, everyone but Mr. Ping - he is a simple noodle-making goose, you know. Joining the cast is the peacock weaponer Shen (Gary Oldman) out to conquer China and destroy a soothsayer prophecy that a Black-and-white kung fu master would destroy him. Rounding out the cast are Shen's wolf pack soldiers and the other kung fu masters Po idolizes.
Kung Fu Panda 2 brings a fast and furious action sequel to the masses. Sometimes the fighting sequences were so fast and so furious that the fists and the fury could barely be contained and seen onscreen. Layer on top of great fights a heartfelt story of an adopted Panda (wait, Mr. Ping wasn't his father?) looking for inner peace and for the secrets of his origins, great comic moments, and a finish worthy of Karate Kid 2 - yes, I recognized the parallels, Dreamworks! - and you have another animation enjoyable for both kids and their parents.
Gary Oldman's Shen is more formidable an opponent for Po and the Furious Five than Tai Lung was for the first film. Power hungry and looking toward total domination, he holds the key to Po's beginnings. Even though Po is now the Dragon Warrior, his focus needs more focus as he is distracted by visions of his past every time he encounters his peacock enemy.
The colors are deep, rich and vibrant. The story is accessible and legendary. You will laugh, you should cry a little, and you will come out of the theater with a smile and the impulse to show off your kung fu skills. Black Black has another hit on his hands. The real mystery is what a fuzzy, out of shape Dragon Warrior panda will have in store for us the next time!
WORTH: Matinee and DVD