Po is an obese orphaned panda (voiced by Jack Black) who ascended from fanboy to Dragon Warrior in the animated “Kung Fu Panda” (2008). In “Kung Fu Panda 2” he finds “inner peace” and figures out the goose Mr. Ping (James Hong), a noodle shop owner who raised him, is not his biological father. Jennifer Yuh worked on four earlier DreamWorks animated features before making her directing debut here with a kids’ action screenplay by Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger. Back when gunpowder was only good for fireworks, a bad peacock foresaw firepower. Three decades later, this Lord Shen (Gary Oldman) plans to conquer China with a flotilla outfitted with his new cannons that will make martial arts obsolete. This is revenge against his parents, who banished him for committing genocide against pandas. His intent at the time was to avert a prophecy. In the earlier film, Po learned a secret whose secret is that there is no secret. This time he asks, “How can you stop something that stops kung fu?” With the help of a tigress, mantis, viper and other valiant critters, that’s how. For a coup de grace, Po will weaponize his newfound spiritual enlightenment to defy Shen’s cannon fire. The refreshing diversity of animation styles includes shadow-play puppetry, but all the chase and combat sequences unfold at a pace that defies visual comprehension. Kinetic spectacle abounds. None get more than a few microseconds to pass through your 3D glasses and land on your retinas. With the voices of Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Jackie Chan, Lucy Liu, Michelle Yeoh, Dennis Haysbert, Jean-Claude Van Damme. 90m. (Bill Stamets)
“Kung Fu Panda 2: The Kaboom of Doom” opens Thursday.
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” in words and images will be published in Spring 2022.