Kung Fu Panda 3 full movie review - Great film
I think this film is as good as the first but not quite as good as the second. Nonetheless, it's still a great addition to the franchise and tied up the loose ends left by the previous movies.
It feels like a good end to the Kung Fu Panda movies. A fourth movie would be nice, as long as the script is good, but if the writers can't come up with anything, they should still be proud to have ended the franchise on a high note.
I liked Kai, although he wasn't as good as Shen. While Shen was unique to the Kung Fu Panda franchise, oozing a deranged yet elegant intimidation with just the right sprinkling of humour, Kai shares similarities with Tai Lung, such as a degree of intimidation but just a little too much humour and a back-story with one of the franchise's mentors, in this case, Oogway. However, that doesn't make Kai a badly written character. His back-story with Oogway was good and he was portrayed as a guy who was previously brave and loyal but became twisted by his own greed. Furthermore, Kai is somewhat sympathetic because Oogway erased every trace of him apart from his own personal scroll about their relationship after sending him to the Spirit World, so it's understandable that he would be ticked off for having his legacy destroyed. He was too similar to Tai Lung to be a brilliant villain like Shen was but I think the writers and voice actor J.K. Simmons handled him pretty well despite that.
What I like about this film is that it touches on possibilities about what happens after we die. Not many films do that due to people's understandable fear of death. I originally interpreted the Spirit World as being the afterlife, which led to confusion about Kai's apparent destruction - if he's already dead, how could he die again? - until my mother mentioned the possibility that the Spirit World was actually Purgatory, in other words the place between life and death. It was shown to be possible to return from the Spirit World so it could be argued that anyone residing there isn't truly dead. Oogway's line "I live here" rather than "I reside here" lends weight to that theory as it implies that he's still attached to the mortal world. Like Po, Oogway could probably return to life if he wanted to but he was clearly content to stay in the Spirit World. However, when Kai exploded from the force of Po's chi, he was pushed beyond the boundary between life and death, ensuring he could never return to the mortal realm again.
I liked Oogway's scenes, although I wish he had a bit more screen time. I think he's a great character and his connection to Kai explains more about his long life. I also liked that both Oogway and Kai were connected to the very same Panda village where Li lived. One complaint I have is how did Tigress find the supposedly secret village? Li said that no non-Panda's were supposed to know where it was but Tigress got there before Kai, who visited the same village five hundred years ago. To be fair, Kai found the village by accident in a snowstorm five centuries earlier, so he may have had trouble remembering the way but even so, at least he had some idea of where he was going. I suppose Tigress could have tracked Po but I don't remember the previous films establishing her as a tracker, although maybe the writers assumed we would guess that from the fact that she's a feline.
Po, Shifu and the Furious Five were also done well, with Mantis and Crane even getting a scene to themselves. I liked the scene where Shifu, Tigress, Monkey and Viper fought Kai and the possessed Mantis and Crane. My favourite member of the Furious Five is Tigress, partially because she's voiced by the fantastic and beautiful Angelina Jolie, one of the greatest actresses alive. I liked seeing Tigress' maternal side, which is shown in the television series but hasn't been seen before in the movies. I'm glad that they maintained her friendship with Po without giving any indication that it could go further. If this were another franchise, chances are the writers would probably have the male main character and the powerful female character get together but here, Po and Tigress are more like brother and sister. Although Tigress is my favourite member of the Furious Five, I wish that Viper was given more screen time, as I think she's the most underrated of the group. Lucy Lui is also a great actress who wasn't given enough lines in this movie.
Po's dad Li is a likable character. I guessed that he was lying about knowing the chi practices used by his ancestors but unlike many "liar revealed" story lines, it's not too obvious that he's lying until the revelation scene. There are hints from his behavior but it's subtle and I like that. And of course, Li's just being a protective father. I like how he and Mr Ping bonded over the course of the movie and realized that they could both be father figures to Po. Mr Ping's concern that he might steal Po away from him was understandable since Li was Po's biological dad, but the two of them actually worked well together once Mr Ping got over his jealousy.
I wouldn't call it perfect but this is still a great movie and a worthy addition to the franchise. I don't feel that it's essential to add a fourth movie. The second movie basically confirmed that this movie was coming due to the cliffhanger with Li but in this film, everything has been brought to a satisfactory conclusion. If they do make another film, they had better do it right because I don't want this franchise to get ruined just to make the people involved richer.