KUNG FU PANDA 4 Review – Fun and Familiar Flavors with A Few New Ingredients

KUNG FU PANDA 4 is a profound progression of the franchise that delivers but doesn't raise the bar
Kung Fu Panda 4

Dreamworks Animation’s Kung Fu Panda 4 is a welcomed addition to the beloved franchise that delivers a visually stunning and emotionally resonant experience. Building upon the success of its predecessors, the film takes viewers on an exhilarating journey beyond the familiar confines of the Valley of Peace, introducing new characters, expanding the world, and delivering some of the most breathtaking action sequences ever seen in the franchise.

Upgraded Visuals and Animation

Kung Fu Panda 4
(from left) The Chameleon (Viola Davis), (right) Tai Lung (Ian McShane) in Kung Fu Panda 4 directed by Mike Mitchell.

From the moment the film begins, it’s evident that Kung Fu Panda 4 boasts upgraded visuals and animation that set a new standard for the series. The vibrant colors, intricate character designs, and meticulously crafted environments leap off the screen, immersing viewers in a world that feels both familiar and fresh. The attention to detail is evident in every frame, from the fluidity of the martial arts movements to the subtle expressions of the characters’ faces.

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One of the most impressive aspects of the film’s visual design is the depiction of the expanded world beyond the Valley of Peace. From the bustling enclave of Juniper City to the mysterious Spirit Realm, each new location is brought to life with stunning detail and imagination. The film’s art direction is a testament to the talent and creativity of the animation team, who have truly outdone themselves in creating a world that feels alive and vibrant.

Dynamic Duos

Kung Fu Panda 4
(from left) Li (Bryan Cranston) and Mr. Ping (James Hong) in DreamWorks Animation’s Kung Fu Panda 4, directed by Mike Mitchell.

At the heart of Kung Fu Panda 4 are the dynamic duos that drive the story forward. From the unlikely partnership between Po and the spirited Corsac fox thief, Zhen, to the heartfelt bond between Po’s adoptive father, Mr. Ping, and his birth father, Mr. Li, the film is filled with moments of humor, heart, and genuine emotion.

Jack Black and Awkwafina deliver standout performances as Po and Zhen, respectively, infusing their characters with humor, charm, and a touch of vulnerability. Their chemistry is palpable, and their interactions are a joy to watch, whether they’re trading witty banter or teaming up to take down a formidable villain.

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Similarly, James Hong and Bryan Cranston shine as Mr. Ping and Mr. Li, bringing depth and nuance to their characters’ relationship. Their contrasting parenting styles and conflicting personalities provide ample opportunity for humor and drama, as they navigate the challenges of raising a hero like Po while also coming to terms with their own pasts.

Delightful Deviance

Kung Fu Panda 4
(Center) Chameleon (Viola Davis) in Kung Fu Panda 4 directed by Mike Mitchell.

Viola Davis steals the show as the formidable sorceress, The Chameleon, injecting the film with a delightful deviance that adds an extra layer of intrigue to the story. Davis’ commanding presence and nuanced performance make The Chameleon a truly memorable villain, one that poses a significant threat to Po and his allies. Her character’s shape-shifting abilities and cunning intellect make her a formidable foe, and Davis relishes every moment she’s on screen, bringing a sense of gravitas and intensity to the role.

Hard-Hitting Action Sequences

Kung Fu Panda 4
Granny Boar (Lori Tan Chinn) in DreamWorks Animation’s Kung Fu Panda 4, directed by Mike Mitchell.

One of the highlights of Kung Fu Panda 4 is its breathtaking action sequences, which showcase some of the most impressive martial arts choreography and animation ever seen in the franchise. From high-flying acrobatics to intense showdowns, the film delivers adrenaline-pumping action that will leave audiences cheering for more.

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The fight scenes are choreographed with precision and skill, capturing the fluidity and grace of traditional kung fu while also incorporating elements of comedy and spectacle. Whether it’s Po and Zhen facing off against hordes of enemies or Po squaring off against his old nemesis, Tai Lung, each action sequence is a visual feast that keeps viewers on the edge of their seats.

The Bar Isn’t Moved

Three bunnies in DreamWorks Animation’s Kung Fu Panda 4, directed by Mike Mitchell.

Despite its many strengths, Kung Fu Panda 4 is not without its flaws. Some viewers may find the pacing of the film to be a little rushed, with certain plot points feeling underdeveloped. Additionally, while the film expands upon the world introduced in previous installments, it falls short of pushing the boundaries in the way that the third film did. Plus the inclusion of so many previous villains, and extremely soft focus on the Furious Five, while only sparsely utilizing Ian McShane, leaves a profound feeling of a missed opportunity. However, given where the story goes, it does make sense, and feels like a necessary step back for what is likely going to be a major leap in future installments.

Profound Progression

Kung Fu Panda 4
Zhen (Awkwafina) in DreamWorks Animation’s Kung Fu Panda 4, directed by Mike Mitchell.

Kung Fu Panda 4 is a must-see for fans of the franchise and newcomers alike. With its stunning visuals, captivating performances, and exhilarating action sequences, it’s a worthy addition to the beloved series that will leave audiences craving more adventures with Po and his friends.

On top of all that, it is a profound capture of progress, leadership, advancement, and continued change that is an embodiment of the martial arts and Eastern philosophies that influence the franchise. These complex themes and aspects of life are brilliantly made digestible for all audiences, making the film inspiring and resonant as it is entertaining and funny. Whether you’re a longtime fan of the series or simply looking for a fun and entertaining film to enjoy with the whole family, Kung Fu Panda 4 delivers the goods in spades.

While not my favorite of the franchise, Kung Fu Panda 4 hits all the right targets and delivers the expected flavors we have come to love. For that, I give the film a


Kung Fu Panda 4 is releasing in theaters on March 8, 2024.

About Kung Fu Panda 4

Kung Fu Panda 4

Release Date: March 8, 2024
Director: Mike Mitchell
Producer: Rebecca Huntley
Co-Director: Stephanie Ma Stine
Production: Dreamworks Animation
Distribution: Universal Pictures
Genre: Animated Comedy Adventure
Cast: Jack Black, Awkwafina, Viola Davis, Dustin Hoffman, James Hong, Bryan Cranston, Ian McShane and Ke Huy Quan

Kung Fu Panda 4 is directed by Mike Mitchell (DreamWorks Animation’s Trolls, Shrek Forever After)and produced by Rebecca Huntley (DreamWorks Animation’s The Bad Guys). The film’s co-director is Stephanie Ma Stine (She-Ra and the Princesses of Power).In 2008, the Academy Award®-nominated 2008 inaugural chapter, Kung Fu Panda, became DreamWorks Animation’s highest-grossing original animated film and launched a franchise that has earned more than $1.8 billion at the global box-office.

Do you already have your tickets to Kung Fu Panda 4? Do you want a Furious 5 spin-off? And what are your favorite moments from the Kung Fu Panda series so far? Let us know what you think on our Discord!

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Kevin Fenix

Professional Nerd | Amateur Human | Creative/Content Director The best way to describe Kevin Fenix is the kid you never tell what the buttons do in video games so you have a chance to win. Being 6’ 4” and Asian, he never really fit in, so he got comfortable standing out. Not only is it easy to find him in crowds, he dabbles in the culinary arts, does a little stand up and improv, and can honestly say Spider-Man is the Jesus-like influence of his life. Kevin Fenix loves dogs, movies, television, comics, comedy, and to shoot people… with video.