Directed by: Mark Osborne, John Stevenson
Written by:Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger
Starring: Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Ian McShane, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu, David Cross, Randall Duk Kim
Released: June 26, 2008
Grade: A

It feels like every time I’ve seen a movie this year, the trailer for Kung Fu Panda has been shown beforehand.  The quantity of advertising for this film has been extreme to say the least.  The wait has been worth it.  This is a great animated flick which is going to provide much entertainment for both kids and adults these school holidays.

Po (Black) is a panda who loves kung fu.  The problem is that he’s not very good at it – he’s inflexible, overweight and lazy.  Not a good combination.  Po idolises a group of kung fu experts known as the Furious Five.  They are made up of a tiger, a crane, a monkey, a viper and a praying mantis.  Guided by their teacher, Master Shifu (Hoffman), the Furious Five have defeated many adversaries.

It has been prophesised that an evil snow leopard named Tai Lung (McShane) will soon attack.  Tai Lung wants the Dragon Scroll – an object which is believed to hold the secret to unlimited power.  The only way that Tai Lung can be stopped is for a kung fu expert to take on the position of “Dragon Warrior” and read the scroll first.

The appointment will be made by Master Oogway, a wise tortoise who is held in high regard.  That is until… he selects Po to be the Dragon Warrior!  Everyone is dumbfounded by the selection.  Master Shifu and the Furious Five object strongly to the decision but it cannot be changed.  With no other alternative, Master Shifu starts training Po in the basics of kung fu.  It’ll be his greatest challenge…

There’s a lot to like about Kung Fu Panda.  The cast is probably what stands out most.  Jack Black (School Of Rock) plays Po and it’s one of his funniest roles.  I could almost picture Jack Black when looking at Po on screen.  He has the perfect sense of humour.  Also notable was Randall Duk Kim as Master Oogway and Dustin Hoffman (Rainman) as Master Shifu.

The screenplay is also strong and has been written by Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger.  Both worked as writers on the King Of The Kill animated television series.  They’ve created a film with a simple story and a worthy message.  This makes it ideal for young kids who will be able to understand what’s going on.  The jokes are great also and this will give it just as much appeal to the adult audience.  Be sure to check it out.