Kung Fu Panda 4 Review: More Noodle-y Goodness with Po

kung fu panda 4

Eight years have passed since the epic tale of ‘Kung Fu Panda 3,’ and Po the Panda finds himself at a crossroads. He is confronted with the weighty decision of stepping down from his esteemed position as the Dragon Warrior to take on the mantle of Spiritual Leader in the Valley of Peace. However, Po hesitates to release his grip on the dream role that has defined him. Standing in opposition to his reluctance is his mentor, the wise Master Shifu (portrayed by the talented Dustin Hoffman), who urges Po to embrace this new path.

But as Po grapples with his inner turmoil, a sinister threat looms on the horizon. Enter the Chameleon, a cunning master sorceress and crime lord with nefarious ambitions to unlock the dormant powers of past Kung Fu masters, all with the goal of seizing control over the world itself. In the face of this danger, Po finds an unlikely ally in the form of Zhen, a skilled thief with a heart of gold. Together, they embark on a mission to thwart the Chameleon’s plans and safeguard the precious Staff of Wisdom.

Throughout the course of the film, Po is tested like never before, confronting formidable foes and challenging situations that force him to delve deep into themes of duty, sacrifice, and the discovery of one’s true potential.

In ‘Kung Fu Panda 4,’ while the storyline might follow a familiar trajectory, co-directors Mike Mitchell and Stephanie Ma Stine inject the narrative with an abundance of fun and adrenaline-pumping action sequences. One standout moment is the electrifying chase scene through the bustling streets of Juniper City, showcasing the filmmakers’ knack for delivering excitement.

Visually, the animation reaches new heights of brilliance, with vibrant colors that captivate the eye without overwhelming. The editing, skillfully executed, maintains a brisk pace, ensuring that the audience remains enthralled from start to finish.

However, the script, penned by Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger, and Darren Lemke, occasionally veers into the territory of heavy-handed moralizing. At times, it feels as though the film is guiding viewers a bit too forcefully through its themes of duty and sacrifice.

Returning to their beloved roles, Jack Black shines once again as the voice of Po, offering a performance filled with humor and heart. Dustin Hoffman brings his trademark wisdom and charm to the role of Master Shifu, while characters like Po’s adoptive father, Ping (voiced by Hong), and his biological panda father, Li Shan (portrayed by Cranston), add layers of depth to the adventure.

Viola Davis lends her talents to the role of the menacing Chameleon, infusing the character with a palpable sense of danger. The animation team works wonders, bringing the Chameleon to life in stunning detail.

Although Awkwafina’s voice may not seem a perfect fit for Zhen, the character itself is a refreshing addition to the ensemble, offering a unique perspective on the journey. And the unexpected return of Ian McShane as Tai Lung provides a satisfying sense of closure, his performance adding further richness to the story.

While ‘Kung Fu Panda 4’ may not soar to the same heights as its predecessors, it remains a delightful 94-minute escapade, blending humor, action, and heartfelt moments in a way that will surely please fans of the beloved franchise.