Shen now sets out to develop a weapon so powerful it can stop kung fu forever and Shifu sends out Po and the Furious Five to stop a band of wolves who are stealing all the metal from the Valley of Peace. Turns out that Shen has figured out how to use black powder and is now producing canons aiming for world domination. Meanwhile, every time Po gets a flash of a certain symbol he becomes victim to Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome and starts having flashbacks. To anyone who’s ever seen a movie before it should be obvious as to what’s going on here as the flashbacks pertain to classically animated sequences involving Po as a baby and two characters that just may be his true parents. Yes, Po is adopted, as Mr. Ping (James Hong) tearfully finally explains to Po in a hilarious flashback sequence all his own. Now, Po must stop Shen and find inner peace, along with who he really is, before the Valley is destroyed and eventually, the world!
One of the things that the filmmakers immediately get right (as they did in the first one) is in making Kung Fu Panda 2 first and foremost, a true kung fu film. The fight sequences here are true stand outs and bare multiple viewings. They are some of the best choreographed and beautifully animated action sequences outside of a Yuen Woo Ping live-action film. And the 3-D is finally used to bring out all the stops and looks surprisingly pretty fantastic. I’m still holding on to the belief that the only films that benefit at all from the use of a third dimension are computer animated films, but then it also gets wasted on the likes of such things as Hoodwinked Too. The second in keeping with the long standard tradition that all animated family films be tear jerking comedies.
And finally, that they still manage to keep things from getting too dark as to lose their target audience. Bear in mind that as was the original, this is rated PG for sequences of martial arts action and mild violence. Characters get hurt and bad guys can die; even if hilariously in a few instances. But in that this is animated, the proceedings never become too overbearing that it would ever frighten the younger audience. Peril is a most welcome return to the realm of family films as it used to be a major staple and has gotten lost as we proceed with each generation of filmgoers becoming even more sheltered pansies than the last.