Review: What parents should know about 'Kung Fu Panda 3'
Do your children take martial arts lessons? Perhaps they take lessons after school, and are working towards their black belt. If so, they will probably like “Kung Fu Panda 3.”
You may be wondering if “Kung Fu Panda 3” is a suitable movie for your children. Of course, this is animated martial arts, so expect lots of fast-paced battle scenes with kicking, punching, and chopping. Some martial arts weapons are used, such as swords, nun chucks, and poles.
Each “Kung Fu Panda” movie introduces a new villain, and this time it’s an evil bull named Kai. He has horns, glowing green eyes, and his breath comes out like smoke and multicolored laser beams of light. It’s a toss-up whether or not Kai will frighten toddlers and kindergarteners. Some children may think he’s cool, while some will look away or cover their eyes when Kai appears on the screen. There are intense battle scenes with peril and impending doom. The main characters find themselves in dangerous situations, such as being suspended from a cliff with a fiery pit below. There are also brief flashback scenes of parent-child separation. The film also presents the eastern philosophy of chi, which they consider to be a life force that’s similar to electricity. Otherwise, there's not much to worry about with “Kung Fu Panda 3.”
On the positive side, this is an entertaining story about family, with Po the Panda reuniting with his long-lost father. Now, Po has two fathers. His biological father is a panda, and there’s Mr. Ping the Crane, who adopted Po as a baby, after finding him in a radish crate. Mr. Ping is a funny character who owns a noodle restaurant and teaches Po how to make noodles, in hopes that Po would eventually take over the family business. Of course, Po’s dream and destiny is to become a Dragon Warrior. If you have a “blended” family, then you will probably like the way that Po's two-dad situation is handled.
The plot reunites the “Furious Five” characters: Po, Tigress, Viper, Monkey, and Mantis. After Po meets his biological father, they visit a secret sanctuary of pandas. Po is amazed and delighted, because he’s never been around other pandas. Po discovers that his parents arranged for him to marry Mei Mei, a flirty girl panda, who does ribbon dancing. Evidently, Mei Mei likes Po a lot more than he likes her. For some reason, Po does not fit in with the other pandas, but when disaster strikes, they must learn to work together as a team. The pandas need Po to teach them kung fu so they can defend themselves against the menacing Kai. In a bizarre twist of fate, Kai steals the powers of defeated kung fu masters and threatens to take over the world. Now the pandas must learn kung fu and embrace their chi energy, so that they can defeat their enemy.
It’s funny when Po trains the fun-loving, clumsy pandas to work together as a team. Po leaves his comfort zone as a martial arts student and becomes a teacher. He’s got a lot to learn, but Po is on his way towards making his dreams a reality.
Overall, this is a fun film with a positive message that you’re not alone in this world. Po finds support, love and nurturing from his friends and family, especially in times of trouble. Like Po, we may come from a biological or an adopted family. Either way, family is where the heart is.
Rated PG for martial arts action and some mild rude humor, “Kung Fu Panda 3” opens in theaters Jan. 29.