Master warrior, Kai, gathers his strength from stealing the chi (life force) of powerful fighters. When he sets his sights on Po and his friends, they discover that the only way to stop him is with more powerful chi that can be found in a secret land of Pandas. Luckily, Po’s real father, Li, has turned up and tells Po that he can help him but he must return home with him to learn the secrets of chi mastery. With Kai stealing more and more chi, can Po learn everything he needs to know in time?

Kung Fu Panda 3 (2016) – Director: Alessandro Carloni, Jennifer Yuh

Is Kung Fu Panda 3 appropriate for kids

Rating: PG

Running Length: 95 mins

Starring: Jack Black, Bryan Cranston, J. K. Simmons

Genre: Animated, Comedy, Martial Arts

REVIEW

Once again following the exploits of Po ‘The Dragon Master’ and his gifted martial artist friends, Po now has two new challenges to face. The evil Kai wishes to steal his life force, but possibly more life-changing is the sudden appearance of his real father, Li (played by Bryan Cranston), affirming his place in the world and giving him the assurance he needs that his unusual behaviour is actually perfectly normal for his kind.

Being the third movie in the franchise, it is easy to assume that this would be the inferior story and that ideas would be running thin but this couldn’t be further away from the truth. The quality of the comedy remains top-notch and the plot is equally as good; the pacing is great and the depth of character from Po and both of his fathers (adoptive and biological) adds extra realism to an otherwise fun but far-fetched premise.

With a wealth of ideas to keep ‘Kung Fu Panda 3’ fresh and funny, this is a movie that will no doubt be enjoyed by adults as much as it is children and is a second sequel that certainly packs a punch!

IS ‘KUNG FU PANDA 3’ SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN?

There are numerous martial arts fights throughout the movie, some are light-hearted and comedic in nature, however some are more serious and are often ‘life or death’. One of the ‘bad’ characters’ weapons is two large blades attached by a long chain which he throws at his adversaries.

Antagonist, Kai, steals the chi, or life force, from other strong warriors. He does this by turning them into small stones of Jade which he then wears on his belt. He uses these stones to create zombie-like fighters who take on the form of the warrior that the stone has been created from. As some of Po’s allies are turned into jade, he then has to fight them; these creatures are relentless and aggressive, causing Po and the others to struggle to fight them off.

Po’s adoptive father, Mr Ping, becomes jealous of Po’s biological father, Li, as he feels pushed out of his son’s life. While some of this jealousy manifests itself in anger and possessiveness, it is also realistically emotional because Ping genuinely feels as though he could lose his son. This could confuse some children and be upsetting, especially for children who are adopted.

Po sees a picture of his mother and asks his father about her, Li tells him that ‘she was the love of my life until that one moment where I lost everything’. This scene is quite emotional.

Several established characters are defeated by Kai and turned into jade stones. Their fate is unclear although Kai does turn them into the aforementioned fighting zombies where none of their former personalities remain. This causes Po some upset when he realises that he left them alone and unprotected and ‘now they’re all …’ his train of thought trails off but this could be distressing for kids who may already be thinking that these characters have been killed.

A character sacrifices themself for the greater good of their friends. This is unexpected and could be upsetting for some kids although it should be relatively short-lived.

CAN I SEE A CLIP?

VERDICT

‘Kung Fu Panda 3’ is an excellent comedy movie that has plenty of silliness and slapstick but also a lot of character depth and plot. Although there are some action sequences involving martial arts and fighting, we feel that this movie should be appropriate for kids of all ages.

  • Violence: 1/5 (mild martial arts action scenes)
  • Emotional Distress: 2/5 (a mother places her crying baby in the snow and runs away; seen from the baby’s point of view, she attracts the attention of some following wolves, runs away from the baby and the wolves chase her. Nothing is shown on-screen but it is made clear that the wolves kill her)
  • Fear Factor: 2/5 (Po becomes aware that Kai is on his way to the Panda’s home and when he is close, the first thing that alerts Po and the others is the sound of Kai’s blades scraping along the ground. This continues for around a minute and the noise increases in volume)
  • Sexual Content: 0/5       
  • Bad Language: 1/5 (some mild words such as ‘butt’. Po calls his private parts ‘my tenders’)
  • Dialogue: 2/5 (a character describes themselves as ‘master of pain’ and ‘maker of widows’ and asks two cowering farmers ‘if I stepped on you, would you die?’)
  • Other notes: Deals with themes of understanding your strengths and honing them to your advantage, self-sacrifice, fighting evil even when the odds are against you, believing in yourself, and trusting the power of one’s inner strength.

Words by Laura Record

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