4.0 out of 5


  • Characters
  • Fathers take a bigger role
  • Animation


  • Rehashing
  • Cutdown cast
  • Bland soundtrack

Dreamworks Animation
Mike Mitchell, Stephanie Stine
Action, Adventure, Animation, Comedy
Theatrical Release Date (NA)
Mar 8, 2024
Film Length
1hr 34 mins
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It’s been eight years since Kung Fu Panda has seen a new entry in theaters, and many thought this was the end of Po’s adventures. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case. Despite the years apart, Kung Fu Panda 4 is a fun adventure, but it feels like it packed a lighter bag.

Passing the Torch

Kung Fu Panda 4 - Screenshot

By becoming one of the best warriors and uncovering the secrets of his past life, Po fulfilled his destiny as the Dragon Warrior and Master of Chi at the end of Kung Fu Panda 3. Now, Po, voiced by Jack Black (School of Rock, The Super Mario Bros. Movie), faces a new challenge: choosing a successor to become the next Dragon Warrior. Master Shifu, Po’s martial arts master, voiced by Dustin Hoffman (Sam & Kate, Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium), returns but in not as big of a role as in previous films. He continues to push Po to choose a successor while taking a back seat.

Meanwhile, a suspicious character sneaks in to steal something valuable in the Jade Palace. Meet Zhen, voiced by Awkwafina (Sheng-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Raya and the Last Dragon), the main deuteragonist in Kung Fu Panda 4. After a comical martial arts battle between the two, Po successfully captures Zhen and throws her in the slammer. Later, Po finds out from a nearby village that they were attacked by Tai Lung, the antagonist from the first Kung Fu Panda film. Shocked by the news, Po finds out from Zhen that it’s not really Tai Lung but a sorcerer named The Chameleon, voiced by Viola Davis (The Suicide Squad, The Woman King). Zhen offers her assistance to Po and the two set off to stop The Chameleon from harassing innocent people. It’s also an excuse for Po to continue being the Dragon Warrior.

Regarding the Furious Five, Po’s martial art friends since the first Kung Fu Panda do not make an appearance in the film. It’s explained they took on missions far from the valley. As a result, the film focuses more on Po and Zhen. However, Po’s biological and adoptive dads fill in some of the gap created by the missing characters. Mr. Ping, voiced by James Hong (Everything Everywhere All At Once) and Li, voiced by Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad, The Middle), return as Po’s fathers. The two make a great dynamic duo as they both care about Po’s wellbeing. Plus, their comical roles give the film some laughs beyond Po’s usual antics.

Rehashing Materials

Kung Fu Panda 4 - Screenshot

Kung Fu Panda 4 uses plots and ideas from previous films. For example, The Chameleon is a powerful figure that governs a large city, just like Lord Shen in Kung Fu Panda 2. Additionally, The Chameleon’s goal is to take powers from martial art villains. This is similar to Kung Fu Panda 3’s antagonist, Kai, who steals “chi” from martial artists to become stronger. However, the idea of The Chameleon taking powers and shape-shifting into those fighters she stole from makes more sense than the previous film. Fans will see returning characters from previous entries. In fact, Ian McShane (American Gods, John Wick) returns to voice Tai Lung, and it’s one of the biggest features in this film. Unfortunately, while the other villains do get an appearance, they have no dialogue. It’s a shame fans couldn’t hear these villains once more when they confronted Po again. It does make the film feel like the studio cut corners rather than pay additional actors for a handful of lines.

A Proper Farewell?

Kung Fu Panda 4 - Screenshot

Kung Fu Panda 4 in itself feels like a farewell to Po. Having to find a successor, meet nemeses from the past, and acknowledge his next role, it seems like this could be the last of Po on the big screen as the main character. While the film does not indicate the timeline between each film, when it comes to seeing Po grow to the point he has to pass the title of Dragon Warrior to someone else, it feels like he wasn’t the Dragon Warrior for too long. It’s hard to say if Po will make an appearance with Jack Black voicing, but it opens up a new book for potential sequels with a new cast.

Animation Still Kicking

The animation style continues to impress in Kung Fu Panda 4. From the animal fur details to the 2D animated scenes, the world in Kung Fu Panda 4 looks great. Its landscapes in the rural areas and in Juniper City look amazing, too. Animations are fun and at times spontaneous. It’s comical, and when scenes are serious, the characters show that as well. Regarding the soundtrack, it’s nothing spectacular nor is it bad. It often becomes drowned out with all the action and dialogue occurring in the film. The vocal track at the beginning of the credits is Jack Black singing Britney Spears’s “…Baby One More Time”. It’s only amusing because Jack Black is singing, but it doesn’t top his famous “Peaches” song in 2023 for The Super Mario Bros. Movie.

The Last Punch

Kung Fu Panda 4 is Po’s latest and perhaps last adventure on the big screen, and it’s worth watching despite feeling like a light package. SHA-SHA BOOEY!

An early access screening provided for this review. Kung Fu Panda 4 releases in theaters on March 8, 2024. Tickets available through the film’s official website.

Kung Fu Panda 4 - Official Trailer

About Seth Hay - Editor-in-chief / Webmaster

When Seth is not designing or developing, he spends time with his family and his occasional dose of anime, sports and video games.

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