Kung Fu Panda 3 has some incredible moments, and the movie is full of genuinely creative use of 3D animation, but the ending is so utterly unearned that makes you wonder why you bothered caring for the story logic in a tale so ready to abandon logical way of thought.
Kung Fu Panda 3 full movie grabs your attention right away with a battle in the spirit realm with the heroic and ancient tortoise Master Oogway (Randall Duk Kim) battling with pissed-off elk/buffalo-ish creature Kai (J.K. Simmons) on a series of floating rocks. The two hurl gravity-immune buildings and mountains at one another with abandon, and they try to steal other’s chi. Kai inevitably wins the battle so that he may come back to the non-spirit realm and be the arch-villain to menace heroic panda Po (Jack Black). In a meanwhile, Po is finally realizing that his believed-dead panda clan actually still exists, and they may understand chi forces better than he does. In other words, much as the ancient monarchs predicted “he’s just a Po boy, from a Po family, who must spare him his life from that monstrosity”.
As Kai roaming the countryside defeating kung fu masters and turning them into jade zombies fighting for him, Po encounters his birth father Li Shan, revealed to be alive at the very end of the previous movie. Against the jealous screeches of adoptive dad Mr. Ping (James Hong), Po travels to the panda village high in the mountains where everyone is love of being fat, lazy, gluttonous goof-offs. There are something amusingly subversive to all of this when one imagines the movie being viewed in China, and under all the martial-arts trappings they’re presented a message that stereotypically American characteristics are needed to augment their own abilities. Still, as the legend told, the pandas once perfected the secret to unlocking chi, and Po need to learn that in order to face Kai properly.
Kung Fu Panda 3 full movie has it’s biggest strength is its thought-out use of 3D. Directors Jennifer Yuh Nelson and Alessandro Carloni actually play with depth of field to enhance the battles. The stylistic creativity extends to the animation with little touches having the jade zombies look like stop-motion in their movements. Also, one of the movie’s highlight is the return of every famous voice talent ever in a Kung Fu Panda movie for performing duties.
However, to be honest, if you’ve seen any kung fu movie ever, you know that it all boils down to the hero learning a new skill in order to fight the villain, and that’s the movie’s problem. It just kind of showing up when expected with no clear indication why it could not have done so significantly earlier.
After two prior installments, “be true to yourself” and “follow your heart” are usually the way these things go. I expect this sloppiness in this run-of-the-mill animated adventure, but Kung Fu Panda 3 had me predicting greatness for you about halfway through, so an average ending simply does not rise to the level of Dragon Warrior.