Kung Fu Panda 4: The Last of the Dragon Warrior

  8 years after the release of Kung Fu Panda 3 and almost two decades after the original, Kung Fu Panda 4 graced theaters on March 8th and pleasantly surprised me. 

  The film was produced by Dreamworks and follows the kung fu panda himself, Po, as he finally feels content and ready with his role as the Dragon Warrior that he worked for in previous films. However, as a new villain emerges from the shadows and Po’s time as the Dragon Warrior comes to an end, he must embark on his final mission against Master Shifu’s wishes while also seeking out a successor to his helm. 

  I found the movie to be quite enjoyable, with a particular high point being the characterization of the villain. The main enemy in this film is The Chameleon, a shapeshifter who wanted to learn kung fu but was laughed at for being too small to learn it. Her story mirrors the journey that Po took in the beginning of the franchise. Additionally, Zhen, a new character that Po comes across on his journey, struck me as a great building block to truly show Po’s evolving emotions and his maturity as he learns how to trust someone he once saw as bad.

  There is, however, a difference in plot that is noticeable to Kung Fu Panda fans—the absence of the Furious Five. Po’s co-stars are all not heard from for the entire film, only mentioned in passing and showing up in the credits scene with no voice acting. This comes as a result of the high cost for many of the original actors, leaving only a few mainstays like Jack Black as Po and Dustin Hoffman as Master Shifu. 

  Despite this, the movie still looks great as all the others have. The animation feels like it had a lot of love put into it, and fight scenes (being integral to a movie with kung fu in the name) flow incredibly. Without giving too much away, I found myself drawn into the final battle of the film, with how gorgeous and on point the movements of every character was. The designs of every character, from background to main, all perfectly illustrate character traits without having to explain to the audience outright someone’s background and life.

  Overall, Kung Fu Panda 4 ends Po’s story off very well and sets itself up nicely for a future sequel with Po’s appointed apprentice. The creators of the movie have voiced their wishes for an installment down the line to tell more stories in the Kung Fu Panda world, so do not expect this to be the last you hear of this series. Even if this is, it’s a high note to go out on.

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