kungfupandabluWhen I first heard the concept of ‘Kung Fu Panda’, I was a bit skeptical to DreamWorks Animation’s latest release. It worried me a little bit about the story and a Panda that would master the art of kung fu fighting. DreamWorks Animation always finds a way to amaze me with ideas that seem zany at first, but are well executed in the end. ‘Kung Fu Panda’ was a huge success at the box office with a worldwide total of $630 million dollars. For a film that had no legs to stand on per say like a ‘Shrek’ sequel, it did very well at the box office.

The story of ‘Kung Fu Panda’ revolves around clumsy panda bear Po (Jack Black), whom with the proper training becomes a kung fu hero. Po also works at his family’s noodle shop, but he has dreams of becoming a kung fu master. Po doesn’t look like a threat at all, but he has a mark of the chosen one underneath his fur. He is the only one that can stop snow leopard Tai Lung (Ian McShane) who has been also prophesized to make a return as he had rejected the scrolls to become the ‘Dragon Warrior’ years ago. Lung is marching along the countryside causing all kinds of mayhem as he seeks kill the ‘Dragon Warrior’ aka Po.

Po doesn’t believe the ancient prophecy at first that he is the only one that can save his people from Lung’s path of destruction. It takes some convincing from Master Shifu (Hoffman) and the Furious Five legends Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Crane (David Cross), Mantis (Seth Rogen), Viper (Lucy Liu), Monkey (Jackie Chan) that he is the only one to stop Lung. Master Shifu takes Po under his wing to teach him the art of kung fu so he can fulfill his destiny as the hero to save his people.

‘Kung Fu Panda’ does a great job with many comedic moments and that is where the choice of Jack Black in the role of Po was a good decision. It wasn’t like I was rolling in laughter throughout the entire film, but had many chuckles. Dustin Hoffman was an interesting choice as Master Shifu. At first I was rather iffy that he was playing the role of Shifu, but he did a fine job. It was rather upsetting that Jackie Chan only had a few lines, would have been great to hear more from his character.

My only complaint has to go with the Furious Five and the lack of character development. It was a disappointment that we didn’t get to see more from this group. Granted DreamWorks Animation is releasing an animated short on DVD along with ‘Kung Fu Panda’ titled ‘Secrets of the Furious Five’, it clocks in at 24 minutes. That gives us a little bit more background on the Furious Five. Our review should be coming later this weekend on ‘Secrets of the Furious Five’ DVD.

The art style used here in ‘Kung Fu Panda’ is excellent and really fits the premise of the film. The way that China was recreated by DreamWorks Animation was wonderfully done. Fight sequences are also wonderfully animated and look realistic.

Print/Audio Quality
The print is presented in 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 with a 2.35:1 aspect ratio. ‘Kung Fu Panda’ is rather impressive animation on Blu-ray. This is a very colorful film that is vibrant and pops. With a strong color palette, it brings out the fine details. The fur on characters like Master Shifu is rather impressive. Black colors are deep looking. Taking all these strong elements, they produce one sharp looking picture. We have an almost 3D look with the film.

The audio is presented in Dolby TrueHD mix. The sound is rather impressive in ‘Kung Fu Panda’ and this I wasn’t even expecting going in. It takes advantage of the soundfield with the rears actually getting a good workout with the soundtrack and effects. The sound from the fight scenes is also well done. Dialogue is well placed through the center channel with voices being so ever clear.

Special Features

The special features in ‘Kung Fu Panda’ are some of the best we have seen on Blu-ray from a quantity and quality standpoint. Features are presented in standard and high definition. We have listed the exclusive Blu-ray features separately and in the categories as presented on the Blu-ray.

BD Exclusive Features
The Animators’ Corner: Storyboards & Interviews
Trivia Track
BD-Live Fun Features

Inside Kung Fu Panda

  • Filmmakers’ Commentary
  • Trivia Track
  • The Animators’ Corner
  • Meet the Cast [HD]
  • Pushing the Boundaries [HD]
  • Conservation International: Help Save Wild Pandas [HD]

Po’s Power Play

  • Dragon Warrior Training Academy
  • Dumpling Shuffle
  • Learn to Draw [HD]

The Sounds and Moves of Kung Fu Panda

  • Sound Design [HD]
  • “Kung Fu Fighting” Music Video by Cee-Lo [HD]
  • Learn the Panda Dance [HD]
  • Do You Kung Fu? [HD]

Land of the Panda

  • Mr. Ping’s Noodle House
  • How to Use Chopsticks [HD]
  • Inside the Chinese Zodiac [HD]
  • Animals of Kung Fu Panda
  • What Fighting Style Are You?

DreamWorks Animation Video JukeBox [HD]
Trailers
BD-Live

‘Kung Fu Panda’ is yet another great animated film from DreamWorks Animation. This breaks the mold of the usual DreamWorks formula. With a plethora of special features, top notch video and audio quality this is highly recommended on Blu-ray and DVD. This is a fun filled animated film that the entire family will enjoy.