Kung Fu Panda 2 is a heartfelt and action packed sequel that moves us deeper into the series’ mythology but seems to double down on stupid non-character based humor that pulls you out of the picture every time.
The film picks up shortly after the first with Po and The Furious Five protecting the lands around their temple but we also learn a bit about Po’s background. We are treated to a brief history lesson of China’s former Peacock Emperors and their son Lord Shen. Shen was a master of fireworks and when the Royal Soothsayer sees Shen’s future demise at the hands of a black and white warrior, the country’s pandas are placed in grave danger. Shen is ultimately banished and his eventual return will call Po and The Five to action.
The main through line of the film for Po is him coming to terms with his past and adopted daddy issues; with Shen falling right in line with Po’s past. The moments between Po and his dad, Mr. Ping, are full of heart and very emotional and this applies to both the flashbacks the film’s present timeline. The mystery behind Po’s biological parents is intriguing, if a bit thin, but that story is going to be further explored in the next film. As it is, Po’s flashbacks do a great job of giving us enough to wet our appetite for Po catching up to his past, it makes Shen a really evil character, and helps build our love for Po and where he has come from.