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'Kung-Fu Panda 4' movie review: A mildly entertaining cash-grab

Updated on: 15 March,2024 04:43 PM IST  |  Mumbai
Johnson Thomas | mailbag@mid-day.com

'Kung-Fu Panda 4' movie review: There’s not much of a story here other than a threadbare formulaic plot put together to keep the action and comedy going

'Kung-Fu Panda 4' movie review: A mildly entertaining cash-grab

Kung-Fu Panda 4 still

Film: Kung-Fu Panda 4
Cast (voice): Jack Black, Awkwafina, Viola Davis, Dustin Hoffman, James Hong, Bryan Cranston
Director:  Mike Mitchell
Rating: 2.5/5
Runtime: 94 min


It’s been 8 years since the last in the Kung-Fu Panda series came and went so this one feels lie a brand reawakening with Gen Z in mind.


Shifu believes that it’s time for Po (Jack Black) to go on to bigger things. By that he means Po must assume the role of a spiritual leader now and leave the fighting of evil to his successor. He tasks Po with finding a successor to be the next Dragon Warrior but Po just doesn’t believe he is ready to give up the post which he has made his own.  In the meantime he crosses path with a bandit fox Zhen (Awkwafina) who he must team up with to defeat The Chameleon (Viola Davis)a wicked sorceress, who has plans to re-summon all the master villains whom Po has vanquished to the spirit realm, using their accumulated power to rule over the cities all the way to the valley of Peace.


Written by “Kung Fu Panda” regulars Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger with Darren Lemke (“Shrek Forever After” ), the film does have a lesson for kids. It pits humility as a virtue equal to glory. But the lesson is lost in the telling. There’s not much of a story here other than a threadbare formulaic plot put together to keep the action and comedy going. The villain was rather typical of franchise extensions, humor was flippant at best and action not quite up there with the earlier entrants in this franchise. Even with the less than two hour runtime, the film appeared to be  running out of ideas and overreaching rather than providing unsullied entertainment. The entire run seemed toonish and forgettable.

The trilogy had a fairly satisfactory ending- at least that’s what we were given to understand. The cuddly, constantly hungry, bumbling super-fighter Po had finally come into his own as the Dragon Warrior. He managed to banish the Furious Five into the spirit world and even gain his mentor’s approval. He also enjoyed a loving and supportive bond with both of his dads: the restaurateur goose Mr. Ping and his biological panda father, Li.

But this latest entrant has little of the past to lend it weight. The light-handed artistry, sense of spirituality and ticklish wit are missing. This one operates on a much lower, less challenging level. Jack Black as the Giant Panda Po continues to deliver with great comedic timing and voice acuity.  Awkwafina and Viola Davis use their impressionable voices to cast their own little spells but its not enough to make this unnecessary sequel, memorable. The kids will still enjoy it but the adults are more likely to find it tiresome!

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