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With Po's status as the Dragon Warrior proven to all, Master Shifu has a new challenge for him; teaching Introduction to Kung Fu class to a bunch of a rambunctious bunny children. After getting the class to come to order, Po teaches them that fighting is only part of kung fu, while its true meaning is "Excellence of Self." To explain this philosophy, Po tells stories of each of his comrades, The Furious Five, and how they faced formative challenges in their youth that helped define them as true masters of kung fu. Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (email@example.com)
A bit obvious and not the most inspired short but still solidly entertaining for what it is
As Dragon Warrior, Po has had to face many challenges but on this day he must face one that would intimidate any great warrior training the newest recruit of bunnies in the way of kung-fu. Left alone to fend for himself by Shifu, Po finds his class are only interested in the fighting part of the art and are keen to get down to kicking one another as soon as possible. In order to educate them in the true ways of the art, Po tells them of the Furious Five and how they became masters by learning life lessons of patience, courage, confidence, self-control and compassion.
As with the animated films from Pixar, Dreamworks included this short film on the Kung-Fu Panda DVD and I decided to give it a try. In a way it is a fitting inclusion to the main film because to my mind both the film and the short are enjoyable for what they are but at the same time are not quite up to the quality of the products produced by Pixar. With this film its main problem is that the plot is just too obvious in the moralising compared to some of the brilliant shorts from Pixar that can deliver the same message but are generally very inventive and clever. I didn't really get this here but, if you ignore this weakness of comparison then the short is still quite entertaining.
It is not really ever hilarious but it does consistently amuse across the twenty minutes and it doesn't really ram the moral down your throat (although it does push it into your mouth). The animation is mixed perhaps for financial reasons but it does work within the context of the short. The bits with Po and his class are of the same quality as in the main film but the stories that make up the majority of the running time are delivered in a more hand-drawn style that looks cheaper (because, by comparison, it is). However don't let this take away from how good it looks because it is still stylish sort of like the animation that opens the main film albeit it not as striking or as well done as that. Each story is relatively straight forward with a moral at the end of each one but they do more or less work.
The voice work is a little distracting though not so much for what they do but more the obvious absences. Black and Hoffman are good, each reprising their voices in the main part of the short film Black in particular puts a lot of energy into it, but the Furious Fives themselves not so much. Cross is good as Crane (probably having as many words as in the main film) but the others are mostly absent. Some of the characters are children in their stories so therefore it would not have been sensible to use adult voices but it is a bit strange why Chan or Rogen couldn't have found a bit of time to record the couple of lines needed for this especially considering how few lines they had in the main film.
Either way the short is solid and entertaining with a solid if obvious moral message for the kids (and bunnies). That said it does feel a bit lacking in inspiration and does give the impression that it was made because it had to be rather than made out of a good idea or passion for the project a cynical view perhaps but it is hard not to feel that at points, not due to something the film does but things that similar films do so much better.
3 of 8 people found this review helpful.
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