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Kung Fu Panda
What's a panda to do when his dreams of kung-fu awesomeness awake to the cold reality of noodle-making? Clumsy, overweight Po (Jack Black) dreams of becoming a kung fu master like China's revered "furious five," but instead seems destined to follow in the footsteps of his father and grandfather in the restaurant business. When great leader Oogway has a vision that the imprisoned kung fu warrior Tai Lung (Ian McShane) will soon escape, he declares it time to choose China's dragon warrior--one kung fu master deemed worthy of possessing the dragon's scroll and its secret to limitless power. Po and all the townspeople rush to the Jade Palace atop the highest mountain to witness the contest between Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Monkey (Jackie Chan), Mantis (Seth Rogan), Crane (David Cross) and Viper (Lucy Liu), but Po is locked outside the palace. After a miracle of sorts, Po lands inside the palace gates, where he is chosen as the dragon warrior and placed under the tutelage of the decidedly non-plussed master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman). An unconventional student to say the least, hilarity reigns as Shifu tries desperately to make Po into some semblance of a kung fu warrior. Can Po possibly fulfill his destiny as dragon warrior, or was Oogway's final decision a critical mistake? A film rich with hilarious moments, superior animation, and an important message about believing in oneself and the power that comes from within, Kung Fu Panda is great entertainment that will have the whole family laughing and begging for more. (Ages 3 and older) --Tami Horiuchi
Kung Fu Panda 2
Kung Fu Panda 2 is a sequel that definitely lives up to its predecessor, thanks to excellent animation and a great mix of action, comedy, and important life lessons. Dragon Warrior Po (Jack Black) has matured and mastered many new challenges since learning the art of kung fu and defeating the snow leopard Tai Lung, but he hasn't lost his penchant for steamed buns, nor has he achieved what his teacher Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) describes as true inner peace. Before he can settle into the arduous task of self-discovery, word arrives that a nearby town of musicians has been attacked and their leader Master Thundering Rhino (Victor Garber) killed by a newly invented weapon that breathes fire and spits out metal--a weapon that is a harbinger of the end of kung fu and the domination of all of China by Lord Shen (Gary Oldman). Po and the Furious Five (Angelina Jolie, Seth Rogen, Jackie Chan, David Cross, and Lucy Liu) set out to destroy the mysterious weapon and save kung fu, encountering the imprisoned and very dispirited kung fu legends Master Oxen (Dennis Haysbert) and Master Croc (Jean-Claude Van Damme) along the way, but the group quickly discovers that their task is far from simple. Even as Soothsayer (Michelle Yeoh) adamantly foretells Lord Shen's defeat at the hands of a warrior of black and white, Po struggles with the realization that he must come to terms with his adoption in order to let go of the past and become who he chooses to be. Only then can he achieve the inner peace that will empower him to triumph over his personal insecurities and Lord Shen. Kung Fu Panda 2 offers excellent animation and 3-D effects, nice brisk pacing, great voice talent, life lessons that ring true, and a healthy dose of comedy that includes everything from wisecracks to a dragon that eats unsuspecting villagers and then poops them out, and a radish trained in the art of kung fu. (Ages 3 and older) --Tami Horiuchi