I just got done watching Kung Fu Panda 3 on cross country flight. Here’s my review.
Two Thumbs Up
I’ve really appreciated the Kung Fu Panda series mainly because they are an amazing media to get the virtues of martial arts (read…kung fu) into the mainstream and in front of our youth. They are always very age appropriate and sophisticated enough (although I’m not saying they are sophisticated per se; it’s Hollywood) to keep adults focused as well. To this sap, the underlying messages are sincere and thought provoking. All this applies to Kung Fu Panda 3.
The theme of Kung Fu Panda 3 emphasized the power of being yourself; recognizing who you are and being the best you that you can be. Matter of fact, one of my quotable quotes from the movie is when Po said “Your real strength comes from being the best you you can be.” One needs to be open-minded in these movies or you risk perceiving them as cheesy. If this fits your personality, then stay away from Kung Fu Panda 3. But then again, if this is you, then you’re probably not a martial artist and are therefore not reading this.
The only criticism that I have is about the typical inconsistency in trying to depict Po as a slovenly out-of-shape overweight panda who can’t climb a flight of stairs without being winded, yet when it comes to fight scenes he becomes the epitome of physical fitness. That’s a silly position, given that I can suspend my disbelief on everything else…I’m just venting. Beyond that it’s essentially a cartoon that is allowed to do anything, and does so well.
The movie does well on the treatment and importance and respect for chi. Kai, the antagonist of the movie, is determined to collect the chi from all the great masters, and Po is the last one he needs. So he travels from the spiritual world to the mortal world to get Po. Kai uses these really cool pair of knives at the end of chains that he uses effectively to skewer things like mountaintops to smash his opponents. Good stuff. As a matter of fact, when I asked my youth students this morning who their favorite character was, it was Kai, mainly because of his weapons. Out of the mouth of babes...
Po ends up with the secret tribe of Pandas (I won’t say how to avoid the spoiler). They are the stereotypical slovenly pandas. But when they find out that Kai and his Jombies (zombies made out of jade) are coming, Po figures out the secret to teaching: "I don’t need to teach you (pandas) how to be me, I need to teach you how to be you.” The cool, entertaining, and appropriately humorous training montage ensued…and the rest you will have to see for yourself.
Master Sifu plays a bit part. Master Oogway shows up just long enough to be defeated (maybe intentionally?) by Kai. The team plays a bit part.
If you are a martial artist, watch KP3 when you have some time. If you are the parent of a young martial artist, watch KP3 with your chils. Be sure and take advantage of the opportunity to talk to them afterwards about the cool parts.
PO: “You set me up to fail, why?”
MASTER SIFU: “If you only do what you can do you, you will never be more than you are now.”
“I don’t need to teach you about who to be but about who you are.”
“Are you done teaching or are you done being humiliated?”
“Punching and kicking? You think that is what the great Master Oogway saw for you? A 500 year prophesy fulfilled so you could spend your
days kicking butt and running through town high-fiving buddies? Oogway saw greatness in you against my better judgement. Incredible power lies in front of you…power beyond anything that you can imagine.”
“Chi is the energy that flows through all living things…mastery of chi requires mastery of self.”
PO: “Oh man?!?! You mean I have to sit alone in a cave for 30-years?”
MASTER SIFU: “Eventually. After you master teaching.”
PO: “Theres’s no way I’m going to be like you!”
MASTER SIFU: “I’m not trying to turn you into me. I am trying to turn you into you.”
PO’s FATHER: “Sometimes we have to do the wrong thing for the right reason.”
“You gotta let the hill tell you where to roll.” --I’m hoping that I’m not giving to much credit to the writers by thinking that this was their credit to Bruce Lee’s discussion of letting the mind flow like water in a river.
PO’S PANDA DAD: “It’s going to take a lot more than the end of the world to keep us apart.”
“That doesn’t make any sense.” “I KNOW” (Meaning beyond words)
“Having you in Po’s life doesn’t mean less for me, it means more for Po.” (Unselfishness)