Weekends are usually for family and as a family — Volts, Ganjah, and I — watched the third installment of the Kung Fu Panda franchise. If on the first film, Po learned kung fu, and on the second film, Po learned inner peace, then I’m excited to see what Po will learn this time.
When Master Shifu announced that he’s going to retire and transferred the responsibility of training to Po, Po’s doubts and self-confidence set in and pointed out that the Furious Five have mastered kung fu already. But the old master knew well that Po needed this experience to learn.
Then his long-lost father Li appeared and a reunion with the other pandas followed. But Po must face off against a supernatural villain, a yak named Kai. Kai has been stealing kung fu masters’ chi all over China, including that of Master Shifu’s and the other four (Mantis, Crane, Viper, and Monkey). Kai was bent on world domination and he would not stop until he gets the chi of the one who is destined to stop him.
Po was left to train his fellow pandas and attempt the impossible — transforming them into a team of Kung Fu Panda warriors. As how he learned kung fu, he used their everyday activities and movements as their assets and began their plan to save their village. Kai came and sent his minions (the kung fu masters he had caught) to capture Po. But Tigress and the rest of the pandas were able to held them off and distracted Kai. Po thought that his plans worked until he put his fingers on Kai to perform his ultimate move: the Wuxi Finger Hold. However, Kai told him that the technique only works on mortals and not on spirits. This made Kai gain the upper hand. As a last-ditch effort, Po used his technique again to himself as he grabbed Kai and together they both returned to the spirit realm. This made Kai angry and continued fighting Po to get his chi.
Realizing that Po sacrificed his life for their village, Li told everyone left to gather around and help Po in his fight. He initiated a long-lost tradition of the pandas: the generation of chi energy. Together, they were able to transfer chi and let it flow from the physical plane to the spirit realm, reaching Po. So Po was able to break free from Kai, transforming himself to an avatar of a Dragon Warrior, an embodiment of all the people he protected. He used his chi to destroy Kai and releasing the captured kung fu masters in the process.
Before going back to the mortal world, Master Oogway appeared to Po and told him that the journey has come full circle. Oogway admitted that it was he who informed Li that Po is alive. He also admitted that he had chosen Po as the Dragon Warrior because of Po’s descent from the ancient pandas who had mastered the chi and healed him, and of course the embodiment of the yin and yang.
Unlike the previous films, Kung Fu Panda 3 did not have an open ending. It ended happily as they returned to the Jade Palace, practicing kung fu. Although the original plan was six installments, that remains to be seen. I believe that the franchise should stop here.
It is an entertaining film, funny and witty. No boring or dragging moments. The pace is much faster than the previous installments. The jealousy of Mr. Ping as the adoptive father was well told. However, I felt that the Dragon Warrior training the Furious Five was a little bit lacking, not explored to its full potential. In general, as a family we were entertained, we still root for that bumbling good panda who could rise to the occasion and show true heroism. This is one franchise that did not fail in any of its installments.