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Kung Fu Panda


Stars: Voices: Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Ian McShane, Angelina Jolie, Lucy Liu, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, Michael Clarke Duncan, James Hong, Dan Fogler

Director: Mark Osborne, John Stevenson

Ancient China. Tai Lung, the snow leopard, evil kung fu master, is about to escape from prison, and only the holder of the Dragon Emperor's Scroll can prevent him laying waste to the land. Tigress, Monkey, Crane, Locust and Viper have all been trained by the tiny master Shi Fu (Hoffman), a red panda, but none is a match for Tai Lung.

So a champion must be chosen - and the mantle falls on a noodle-serving giant panda, Po (Black), secret kung fu enthusiast but, alas, all-round lard-ass.

This beautifully-drawn cartoon feature, which never forgets its roots in ancient Chinese paintings, is boosted by some laugh-out-loud lines and a killer voice cast that also includes Jolie (Tigress), McShane (Tai Lung), Chan (Monkey) and Duncan (chief rhino jailer).

Po, the son of a goose (best not to go into that one), finding himself selected by the ancient turtle mega-master (Randall Duk Kim) to take on the fearsome Tai, tries hard to fit in his training with his fondness for food. 'There's no charge for awesomeness...or attractiveness,' he reassures his fans, in between being brought down to earth, quite literally, in what seems like a hopeless task in turning him into a martial arts master.

Good fun, vividly realised: all the appropriate emotional strings are pulled at the climax. Kids will thoroughly enjoy it and adults won't be bored.

David Quinlan

USA 2008. UK Distributor: Paramount (DreamWorks). Colour.
92 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: PG.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 30 Jun 2008