Kung Fu Panda 2 is better than the first. And that is saying a lot. The first had a great story, humor in appropriate spots, a sympathetic antagonist and amazing fights. I remember finishing Kung Fu Panda for the first time and thinking I could not wait for the next one. Well, I finally got my wish.
Let me explain one of the reasons that I love these movies so much. I love fight scenes. I love watching beautifully choreographed fights that are fantastical and intense. Many movies in the past decade have rubbed me the wrong way with their fight scenes. Apparently, directors/editors think that choppy, shaky-cam bullshit makes for an enthralling fight scene. They are wrong.
When I watch a movie, I want to be able to watch it. That doesn’t seem like such a difficult concept. But for some reason, so many directors nowadays are filming their fights scenes as if the audience is really in the fight. Hits come out of nowhere. You often have no idea who is winning. The camera is thrown around violently and you simply cannot follow what is going on.
I want my fights to be beautiful. I want to watch a beautifully executed, impossible kung fu move that throws the recipient across a football field once it connects. I loved fight scenes from the Matrix Trilogy, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon and the Bourne Identity. You could see every single thing that happened. But then the second and third Bourne’s happened and you had no idea if a punch was coming from Bourne or his enemy. And for some reason, every other film followed suit.
With both of the Kung Fu Panda movies you have beautifully choreographed fights where you can see every single little nuance. You can see how Crane helps out Po (the panda) by making his landings softer. You can see how Snake swirls around Po and the attackers with such precision. These fight scenes are truly works of art.
But if that was the only thing I liked about this movie, I wouldn’t be recommending it so highly. The story builds on the foundations that 1 built and even leads into what 3 will be. Po is adopted. He does not realize this, even though his father is a bird. This is the story of Po finding out about where he came from and why he is where he is today.
This leads us to the villian, Lord Shen (voiced wonderfully by Gary Oldman). Lord Shen’s army attacks Po’s village which triggers a memory for Po of his distant past. This leads Po down the dark path of finding out what happened to his birth parents and how Lord Shen was involved. But we also learn about how Lord Shen became the way that he is, and that he has parent issues as well.
It is an intricately crafted story that leads to true character development and one heck of a final fight scene. I would absolutely recommend Kung Fu Panda 2 to pretty much anyone. It is not too dark for the kids, but it is not too light for adults. You get a strong story with amazing fight scenes and you even get to laugh along the way. Go see Kung Fu Panda 2!
Have you seen Kung Fu Panda 2? What did you think of it? Let us know in the comments below.