A belly-cious new adventure awaits the family with Po in “Kung Fu Panda 4”

Po (Jack Black) in Kung Fu Panda 4 (Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures International)

Po the Dragon Warrior is back with a new adventure!

In Kung Fu Panda 4, Po, the Dragon Warrior (Golden Globe nominee Jack Black), is called upon by destiny to become the Spiritual Leader of the Valley of Peace.

“When Po steps into the shoes of Spiritual Leader, you get to see his whole internal struggle,” says Black, who himself steps back into Po’s shoes almost a decade after the third film. “He has the Staff of Wisdom, but he’s scratching his head wondering if he knows anything about wisdom at all. This chapter is like Po’s mid-kung fu-life crisis. More wisdom, fewer dumplings, but the same lovable Po.”

It’s the same lovable Po but in an entirely new adventure. “The Kung Fu Panda world continually evolves and expands,” DreamWorks Animation President Margie Cohn says. “Of all the journeys Po has been on, this story is his most emotional and exciting. As Po faces new challenges and characters like Zhen [played by Awkwafina], and the most menacing opponent the Valley of Peace has ever seen in The Chameleon, this film takes him, and in turn the audience, on a fantastical new adventure.”

Po (Jack Black) and Zhen (Awkwafina) in Kung Fu Panda 4 (Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures International)

Ensuring the continued success of this monumental franchise required the expertise of a director deeply immersed in its essence. Enter Mike Mitchell, a seasoned director with an impressive repertoire that includes iconic franchises Shrek and Trolls, and contributions to all the previous Kung Fu Panda films.

“My goal in any franchise, especially my favorites, is to remind everyone of what made the first film great,” Mitchell says. “Kung Fu Panda has a timeless quality, and we wanted to emphasize that. We wanted to infuse even more action, pushing boundaries with new camera techniques not explored in animation before. Think of cool GoPro-style action, typically seen in live-action films. We aimed to bring that dynamic energy into the animated world, and what better canvas than a Kung Fu Panda film? Our aim was to create the biggest and best installment of this franchise, with a grander scale, more humor and the best action yet.”

Chameleon (Viola Davis) and Ian McShane (Tai Lung) in Kung Fu Panda 4 (Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures International)

A spark in all of us

A lot of that action is thanks to all the trouble caused by this installment’s formidable new villain Chameleon, voiced by Oscar winner Viola Davis, who attributes the franchise’s enduring popularity to its characters being reluctant heroes. “I think that sparks something in all of us,” Davis says. “Po doesn’t necessarily look like a warrior, but it sparks the imagination and allows the viewer to envision what they can become. It feels great to be part of this group now. I’ve always wanted to do an animated movie, and with this film, I felt like the right character and the right group of people found me, and I’m just happy to be in their company.”

For Awkwafina (voice of Zhen), another newcomer to the franchise, joining the Kung Fu Panda family holds personal significance. “It means a lot to me because this isn’t just an animated franchise, it’s a beloved world that’s resonated with audiences for so many years. And being able to contribute to a film that pays homage to the beauty of Chinese culture adds an extra layer of personal significance.”

Jack Black returns to voice Po in Kung Fu Panda 4 (Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures International)

A must-watch for the entire family, Kung Fu Panda 4, also featuring the voices of Dustin Hoffman, James Hong, Bryan Cranston, Ian McShane and Ke Huy Quan and distributed by Universal Pictures International, opens in Philippine cinemas starting on March 6. Follow Universal Pictures Philippines on Facebook, Instagram, and Tiktok for the latest updates on Kung Fu Panda 4.

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