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I watched this computer generated animation film hoping to find something original and fresh, as I had heard that the Chinese people wasn't so happy to see their rich kung fu history made into an "overseas" comedy in the "Kung Fu Panda" franchise. I thought that it would be good to see how the Chinese would tell a kung fu story, then. Unfortunately, they didn't do it so well in this production.
The story is confusing. The main character, despite not being a fighter, knows a hell lot of kung fu, apparently for no reason. How good, one could ask. Well enough to deliver a double Kame Hame Ha (see "Dragon Ball" anime series, just in case you don't know what that is) right on the beginning of the film (though not as devastating as Songoku's one, actually, the resulting effect is very "lame", a total waste of a "cool" hands imposition strike). Why such a powerful character needs to learn and train kung fu (if not for fighting exponentially power-enhancing aliens) is beyond reason. Lesser things, like sneakingly invading the "doujyou" (or whatever the training centre is called in Chinese) to ask the master to be trained becomes fully negligible under that story line.
There are two twists at the end of the film, both are, again, "lame". The first is only possible because not a single character bothered to talk to anyone instead of attacking anything that moved (like, people see a man being attacked by a dog and immediately assume that the dog is mad and must be killed, never imagining that the dog could be just trying to protect a victim from the man, a murderous rapist - true story!) The second makes no sense at all, making all the heroes look useless to the whole plot (the villain should have listened to the Oompa Loompas, if he was not greedy, he would have gone farther).
Clichés are used and abused, as are the plagiarisms. The Kame Hame Ha at the beginning was just a sample. When a close character dies, expect to see people sparkling and turning into "golden warriors" (yes, that much!), even if the dead character was completely useless to the plot (not to mention annoying), except, of course, for dying in the end (and although one could argue that they could have killed a more important character, after a short while, it becomes clear that they were all very useless, including the main character, as the fall of the villain is, ultimately, his fault alone). Every time someone tells a story, the film turns to a 2D animated feature, just like in "Kung Fu Panda", with exactly the same kind of cinematic direction, feel and look.
The use of puns and gags in dramatic scenes is annoying (like the eyes rolling down to the sewer on "Minority Report"). The comic lines failed completely to extract even a smirk from me or from my family. At some point, we can stop worrying about the characters, because it becomes clear that nothing can kill them, any deadly strike is used as an excuse for a gag.
The visuals are cheap, despite the good objects' designs (beautiful buildings and landscapes). All secondary characters look the same (all rabbits look the same, all tigers look the same and so on). The fighting sequences are short, unrealistic (even in a "cartoonish" way) and, too many times, leave a dejà vú of "Kung Fu Panda".
After the ending, there is an "extra", an embarrassing musical with the characters dancing to a Chinese pop song...
I can only recommend watching this film if you want a good reason to NEVER watch another Chinese animated production, at least, regarding kung fu.
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