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Granite Bay Today

The Student News Site of Granite Bay High School

Granite Bay Today

Skadoosh! Kung Fu Panda 4 brings out a fun and familiar adventure

Universal Pictures
Kung Fu Panda 4’s poster, announced by Dreamworks in August of 2022.

   “Skadoosh!” Our giant, dumpling-loving panda, Po, returns for Kung Fu Panda 4, Dreamworks’s newest addition to the Kung Fu Panda franchise, earning over $58 million on opening weekend from 4,035 theaters.

   Although Kung Fu Panda 3 seemingly brought a conclusion to the trilogy with Po defeating his nemesis Kai and embracing his role as the Dragon Warrior, Kung Fu Panda 4 is a welcome addition to the series.

   In the new movie, Master Shifu, voiced by Dustin Hoffman, instructs Po to choose the next Dragon Warrior so he can become the Spiritual Leader of the Valley of Peace.

   Afraid of change, Po refuses to give up his role and instead seeks answers from the universe. When he tries to meditate, he chants “inner peace” and by the fourth time his prayer has morphed into “dinner please,” then “dinner peas”, then “peas with a sesame soy glaze.”

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   With a nod to the prior films, Kung Fu Panda 4 blends the old with the new characters. The Furious Five gang with Tigress, Viper, Monkey, Crane, and Mantis make an appearance.  The story introduces a new villain called the Chameleon, a shapeshifting lizard sorceress voiced by Viola Davis. Although small in stature, the Chameleon still intimidates larger-sized villains with her chilling voice and ability to morph into any figure. 

   Unlike the villains in previous installments, the Chameleon’s impressive kung-fu skills aren’t demonstrated until the final fight scene between her and Po. Motivated by bullying, her desire for power originated from teasing by other children for her small stature. She wants revenge and plans to steal the chi of Po’s past opponents and control every city. 

   Looking for a new Dragon Warrior, Po meets Zhen, voiced by Awkwafina, a thieving gray fox that broke into the Jade Palace. Po teams up with Zhen to stop the Chameleon, but the sorceress accesses the spirit realm to bring back Po’s former defeated enemies, including the snow leopard Tai Lung, whom many fans of the series recognize as the main villain from Kung Fu Panda 1. 

   Awkafina takes on another sidekick role bringing yet another funny performance with her animated voice and snarky punchlines. When she tries to recruit the Den of Thieves to help Po defeat the Chameleon, she says “Now, who wants to do the right thing for the wrong reasons?”

   Po and Zhen make a great buddy team. They are both kind-hearted individuals even if Zhen is reluctant to show her heart. As underdogs, they both struggle to find their place and gain respect.

   Po along with Zhen and his worried dads, Li Shan and Ping, travel to Juniper City. The last three movies are set in the Valley of Peace, but Kung Fu Panda 4 adds a change in scenery. Juniper City is a fast-paced metropolis filled with crime. Guarded by her terrifying Komodo dragons, the Chameleon rules Juniper City.


Po and Zhen work together to stop the Chameleon using the “Green Staff of Wisdom”


   The animation in Kung Fu Panda 4 shines. The furry pandas, sail ships, falling stones, smashed roofs and falling cherry petals create a visual spectacle. The animators introduced new styles using AI. For example, the Chameleon’s shapeshifting scenes of turning from a tiny lizard into an elephant utilize AI. 

   The use of funny puns makes the movie an entertaining laugh.  Po’s two dads, small duck Ping, voiced by James Hong, and relaxed giant panda Li Shan, voiced by Bryan Cranston, make an excellent pair. The two are opposites: a giant goofy panda bear versus a small motivated bird. On their journey to save Po, the two’s constant bickering was hilarious, and made a great addition of comedic relief to the movie.

   The fight scenes stand out. Po and Zhen’s fight at Happy Bunny Tavern, a restaurant built on a cliff right above the water, was filled with suspense. The house kept rocking back and forth during the fight bringing them close to death from the house falling into the water. 

   Kung Fu Panda 4 runs at a breakneck fast pace at just over 90 minutes. The film spends a lot of time fleshing out mediocre jokes, like the Pelican with a talking fish in the mouth, then developing the main villain. The fight scenes between the Chameleon and Po felt so short because she was so easily defeated. 

   In the trailer, it was expected that Po would fight all of his previous foes with the Chameleon, but we don’t get that in the movie. The Chameleon uses the Staff of Wisdom to access the Spirit Realm to steal the chi of Po’s former defeated enemies, which feels unearned or weightless. Most of Po’s previous enemies don’t even talk so it doesn’t even feel like they’re even there. 

   In the end, Po realizes that he doesn’t have to be the Dragon Warrior to fight crime and takes on his role as the Spiritual Leader of the Valley of Peace. 

   Kung Fu Panda 4 is an excellent movie that is underrated compared to the other Kung Fu Panda films. Many critics argue that Kung Fu Panda 4 is a mediocre film but Kung Fu Panda 4 is a satisfactory sequel to the franchise. Overall,  I really enjoyed this movie and would rate it a solid eight out of ten.

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    JogeezyApr 12, 2024 at 4:33 pm


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      Donovan B.Apr 17, 2024 at 11:28 am