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Kung Fu Panda 2008/07/20

Posted by Daddy Dave in fun, Movies, Reviews.
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[Picture of kung fu panda]We got to see Kung Fu Panda this afternoon, so we could finally make sense of what Olivia has been going on about (she loves it, and saw it a couple of weeks ago).

To be honest, we enjoyed this film quite a lot in spite of itself; it does not stand up well to any depth of scrutiny!

For a start, I guess most people would associate Martial Arts with Japan (I know that is my tradition), but this is a Chinese tale in that it is about Kung Fu and it has a panda in it. It took me a wee while to figure out why the film was not set in Japan or America; the whole thing was devised just so that they could use that annoyingly catchy Carl Douglas song, “Everybody was kung fu fighting…”

You know, it could almost be a cause for concern that it is so utterly US American. One wonders how many children out there will think that pandas eat just about anything (when in fact they are incredibly fussing about eating bamboo). Maybe children will believe that it is okay to be fat and unfit because the message is clear that everyone is “special in their own special way”, and the onus is on the teacher to bring out whatever promise may be in the pupil.

All the characters speak with broad US American accents and idioms. The Panda, Po, is a teenage geek (he knows a lot about the “Furious Five” and about kung fu in general). But he’s funny, fat and motivated only by food. He is the chosen saviour. He has to deal with his future, his father, earning a living. All of which is so teenagery that it must have swooped right over Olivia’s head.

[Picture of Tigress]One of the team (the tigress) is resentful that the Panda was chosen over her. Po has to earn her respect on top of everything else. The tale is similar to Team America, The Karate Kid, Top Gun, and a zillion others.

The master has to learn to come to terms with lessons from his own master, and has to face the evil he created and train Po to provide salvation.

Yes, it is all a bit silly, and it does give some strange messages to children. It seems to be saying that years of training and single-minded devotion to an art can be easily beaten by using a trick — a shortcut. This is a bit like American Idol or the American Dream, where anyone can do and be anything — straight to the top as an overnight success!

It might have been “better” had the panda been made to work, slim down, and, as the classic underdog, prove himself and earn his way to the top.

But maybe the thought of a skinny panda was too much for Hollywood.

All in all, it is just a very strange film, and perhaps too many adult themes were involved. And at least good still triumphed over evil, however unlikely.

Olivia liked the tigress best, and she does high kicks and kung fu poses en vogue style. Cute. Thank goodness she didn’t leave the cinema with a desire to snack on cookies or be fat, lazy, unfit and stupid like the “star”.

I liked the bit where the old master explains to the young master that one cannot see clearly when one is agitated, angry, and so forth — and illustrated the point using a pond, showing that water has to be still and calm for a reflection to be clearly seen and for anything under the surface to be seen. That will actually stay with me I think. It was one of those moments that used to be provided by the TV show, “Kung Fu”, a wee gem would be offered like that each week, a pearl of wisdom.

It’s nice to have been able to learn something, to have been changed by the experience — and I have Kung Fu Panda to thank for that.

I’m off for some snacks and to practice some kung fu! Haiiiiiiiiii ah!

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