Po (voiced by Jack Black), left, and his long-lost father, Li (Bryan Cranston), get together in a scene from 'Kung Fu Panda 3.'

DreamWorks Animation image

Po (voiced by Jack Black), left, and his long-lost father, Li (Bryan Cranston), get together in a scene from 'Kung Fu Panda 3.'

Every panda was kung fu fighting

By Shirrel Rhoades
Movie Reviewer

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Rotund actor Jack Black is shaped like a giant panda bear. So who better to star in “Kung Fu Panda,” even if you only hear his voice in this animated story about Po, an anthropomorphic panda who becomes an expert at marital arts?

In the franchise’s first movie, Po saved the Valley of Peace. In the sequel, Po continued to protect the valley as its dragon warrior. Now, in “Kung Fu Panda 3,” he takes on a spirit warrior who has stolen the grand master’s chi (the Chinese equivalent of the Force in “Star Wars”).

“Kung Fu Panda 3” continues to entertain children and grown-ups alike. Black returns for a third time as Po, and he’s joined by other big-name stars. Dustin Hoffman plays retiring Master Shifu. You’ll find the Furious Five here, too – Angelina Jolie (Tigress), Seth Rogan (Mantis), David Cross (Crane), Jackie Chan (Monkey) and Lucy Liu (Viper). Add Kate Hudson (Mei Mei), Jean-Claude Van Damme (Master Croc) and even your favorite weatherman Al Roker (Dim). Last year’s Oscar-winner J.K. Simmons is cast as the villain (spirit warrior Kai).

Turns out, Po must discover the secret of chi in order to defeat Kai. Easier said than done, but Li (Bryan Cranston) and the villagers step in to help.

You know it’s going to turn out well. After all, DreamWorks Animation is planning up to three more “Kung Fu Panda” sequels.

Shirrel Rhoades is the movie reviewer for Cooke Communications North Carolina. He can be reached at srhoades@aol.com.