Building on the epilogue of Kung Fu Panda 2, the latest sequel introduces Po (Jack Black) to his father Li (Bryan Cranston) and an entire tribe of Pandas hidden away in a secret valley deep in the mountains. Along the way Po will also struggle with passing on his knowledge of Kung Fu in the role of teacher, first to the Furious Five and later to his Panda students, when an old threat returns and begins stealing the chi of Kung Fu masters across China.
While not as good as the first film, Kung Fu Panda 3 stands up pretty well against Kung Fu Panda 2 – even if it ignores the most intriguing subplot of the first sequel involving Po’s evolving relationship with Tigress (Angelina Jolie). J.K. Simmons proves to be a good choice for the film’s villain Kai: Oogway‘s (Randall Duk Kim) one-time friend who escapes the spirit realm in his search of ultimate power.
And the film introduces us to an entire village of thinly drawn but (mostly) entertaining Panda characters while still finding time to deal with Mr. Ping‘s (James Hong) jealousy and insecurity at Po exploring a relationship with his “real” father.
Po (Mick Wingert) senses his friends pulling back from him as his mastery of Kung Fu grows to include the Dragon Warrior performing an ancient attack known as Thundering Wind Hammer not seen successfully performed in a generation. To explain the concern of his friends, Shifu (Fred Tatasciore) shares the harsh truth about previous incarnations of the Furious Five whose most powerful members have all turned evil including Shifu’s former teammate Fenghuang (Wendie Malick).