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RETURN OF THE DRAGON WARRIOR. Po (top photo, center, with his father, Mr. Ping) and the Furious Five (bottom photo, with Master Shifu, right center) return to the big screen this summer in Kung Fu Panda 2. (Photos courtesy of DreamWorks Animation)

From The Asian Reporter, V21, #11 (June 6, 2011), page 15.

Kung Fu Panda 2 boasts badder villain and even more awesome

Kung Fu Panda 2

Directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson

Produced by Melissa Cobb, Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger, and Suzanne Buirgy

Distributed by DreamWorks Animation

Now playing at area theaters

By Sarah Eadie

The Asian Reporter

Three years after the wildly successful summer debut of Kung Fu Panda, Po and the Furious Five are back in a sequel that explores themes of pride, kinship, and inner peace.

Time has passed since Po (Jack Black) harnessed the power of the Dragon Scroll to become the leader of the Furious Five — Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Monkey (Jackie Chan), Viper (Lucy Liu), Crane (David Cross), and Mantis (Seth Rogen) — and the lovably clueless panda is excited for his next adventure. What he doesn’t know is that a scuffle with some unruly wolves will eventually lead to the group’s quest to save China and kung fu — and force Po to confront his past.

During the film’s first fight between a pack of snarling wolves stealing metal from the Musicians Village, Po is distracted by a badge on the arm of the Wolf Boss (Danny McBride). The symbol triggers a memory of him as a baby panda with his long lost mother.

Intrigued by the patchy, unsettling vision, Po confronts his goose father Mr. Ping (James Hong) while preparing to travel to Gongmen City with the Furious Five on his next assignment. Ping, distraught by his son’s questioning and the fact that Po is leaving on a dangerous mission, reluctantly reveals — to no one’s surprise — that Po is adopted. Despite Mr. Ping’s begging, Po leaves to begin his next task — confronting those who have taken over Gongmen City — not realizing he will soon face his past.

Po and the Furious Five soon find themselves in the courts of the villainous Lord Shen (Gary Oldman), dispatcher of the wolf warriors. Lord Shen is a maniacal albino peacock whose desire for power and conquest long ago destroyed his relationship with his parents and intertwined his fate with Po’s.

Lord Shen has harnessed the explosive power of fireworks — originally created for beauty and celebration — to make a cannon. When the court Soothsayer (Michelle Yeoh) predicts his demise at the hands of a "warrior of black and white," Shen dismisses her.

As Po battles Shen and the wolf pack, he moves closer to discovering the truth about his mother and father. Meanwhile, the fate of China and kung fu hang tenuously in the balance.

The ancient Chinese landscapes and characters in Kung Fu Panda 2 are a marvellous, 3-D spectacle. The characters’ animal bodies lend themselves to creative fight sequences with swinging tails and slicing feathers. The animated environments — Gongmen City, the Valley of Peace, the Tower of Sacred Flame, and more — are incredibly detailed and visually stunning.

Kids and adults alike are bound to fall in love with the second installment of the series. Younger fans will love the bun eating contest, adorable bunny rabbit villagers, and 3-D shenanigans, and parents will enjoy the witty humor while trying to match character voices to names of the star-studded cast.

Kung Fu Panda 2 — playing at theaters nationwide — is poised to be a summer hit with more heart, and just as much awesome, as the first film. For more information, including locations and showtimes, call 1-800-326-3264 or visit <>. To learn more, visit <>.