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Mike Mitchell
Jack Black, Awkwafina, Viola Davis
Writing Credits:
Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger, Darren Lemke

After Po is tapped to become the Spiritual Leader of the Valley of Peace, he needs to find and train a new Dragon Warrior while a wicked sorceress plans to re-summon all the master villains whom Po has vanquished to the spirit realm.

Box Office:
$85 million.
Opening Weekend
$57,989,905 on 4035 screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated PG.

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
English Dolby Atmos
English DVS
Spanish Dolby 7.1
French Dolby 7.1
Supplements Subtitles:

94 min.
Price: $29.98
Release Date: 5/28/2024

• Audio Commentary with Director Mike Mitchell, Co-Director Stephanie Ma Stein, Production Designer Paul Duncan, Head of Character Animation Sean Sexton and Head of Story Calvin Tsang
Dueling Dumplings Animated Short
• Deleted Scenes
• “Kung Fu Talking” Featurette
• “Meet the Cast” Featurette
• “Kung Fu Panda 4 All!” Featurette
• “Mastering the Dumpling” Tutorial
• “Shadow Puppet Theater” Tutorial
• “How to Draw” Tutorials
• DVD Copy


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Panasonic DMP-BDT220P Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Kung Fu Panda 4 [Blu-Ray] (2024)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (June 10, 2024)

Including its 2008 debut, the Kung Fu Panda franchise cranked out three films over eight years. However, fans needed to wait an additional eight years for the next entry, 2024’s logically titled Kung Fu Panda 4.

Po the panda (voiced by Jack Black) enjoys his status as the heroic “Dragon Warrior”. However, his tutor Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) notifies Po that he needs to move on and find a successor as Dragon Warrior.

As he reluctantly engages in this search, Po meets a thieving corsac fox named Zhen. After a rocky start, Zhen accompanies Po on his journey, a quest that detours so they can battle the threat from a shape-shifting sorceress known as the Chameleon (Viola Davis).

Across the first three movies, we spent a reasonable amount of time with “The Furious Five”, Po’s fellow warriors. Outside of a dialogue-free appearance during the end credits, however, the Five remain MIA for Panda 4, and that may prompt viewers to wonder why.

Money, I strongly suspect. Each of the first three movies cost between $130 million and $150 million, while Panda 4 came with a relatively modest $85 million budget.

While I don’t think the absence of the Furious Five actors accounts for this massive decline in dollars committed to Panda 4, I do believe they got left out as part of purse-strings tightening. I admit I can’t quite figure out why the suits at DreamWorks would decide they needed to slash the Panda 4 budget, however.

Although none of the initial three films dazzled at the box office, the first two made $632 million and $665 million worldwide, respectively. 2016’s Panda 3 brought in a somewhat weaker $521 million, but that still meant it turned a profit.

In other words, the franchise remained on steady ground across its opening trilogy. This didn’t seem like a case where severely diminishing returns meant a need for a smaller budget.

With $542 million globally, Panda 4 provided a good return on investment. This doesn’t mean it turned into a winning film, however.

Admittedly, I never loved the Panda franchise. I found the 2008 debut and Panda 3 to offer pleasant but forgettable entertainment.

I did like Panda 2 more. However, even there I saw it as a good but not great animated comedy/adventure.

Unsurprisingly, this sent me into Panda 4 without high expectations, and the long layoff between films didn’t help. The decision to make a fourth movie felt more like a financial choice than anything motivated by creativity.

The end result reinforces these pre-existing beliefs. Even by the less-than-delightful standards of the franchise, Panda 4 feels bland and forgettable.

We get yet another “coming of age” style tale in which Po most challenge himself to broaden his horizons. Po also faces yet another powerful enemy out for world domination.

Po’s new buddy Zhen adds a minor diversion. That said, Zhen feels like she exists more to potentially spawn Panda spinoffs than as a compelling role in her own right.

Let’s face it: few franchises get to fourth movies for creative reasons. When an ostensibly one-off tale like the 2008 Panda launches additional films, it does so because the studio wants to generate more ticket sales.

Of course, many releases from Hollywood exist for potential profits, and that doesn’t mean these films can’t become inventive and delightful. Some simply feel more like “cinematic product” than others.

Into that category falls Panda 4, a film that offers no real reason to exist beyond those potential profits. Did we feel a need to see Po move to the next level and find a new Dragon Warrior?

No, though if Panda 4 found something creative to do with its conceits, this wouldn’t matter. Instead, it ends up as a paint-by-numbers mix of comedy and action that feels regurgitated from the prior movies.

Po remains essentially the same character seen in the first three movies, and that becomes a problem since Panda 4 ostensibly focuses on his growth and development. Zhen acts as nothing more than a basic “thief with a heart of gold”, and if you can’t figure out that she’ll wind up as the new Dragon Warrior, then you need to get out more.

Panda 4 does offer the occasional nugget of comedy, and the actors do their best. Awkwafina seems eager to become the Queen of Animation – Zhen offers her eighth cartoon character since her movie debut in 2016 – and I like her, though she doesn’t break a sweat here.

This means I’ve seen worse movies than Panda 4, but that acts as a weak recommendation. Those smitten by Po and his pals will still probably enjoy it, but the film feels fairly uninspired to me.

The Disc Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B+/ Bonus B-

Kung Fu Panda 4 appears in an aspect ratio of 2.39:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Computer animated films tend to look good on Blu-ray, and Panda 4 followed that rule.

Sharpness seemed solid across the board. The movie delivered satisfying definition and lacked even a hint of softness.

No signs of jagged edges or moiré effects occurred, and edge haloes were absent. Of course, source flaws never manifested themselves.

Panda 4 opted for a somewhat pastel palette that favored no specific hues but instead boasted a nice blend of tones. The disc made the colors warm and rich.

Blacks were dark and deep, while low-light shots offered nice clarity and smoothness. This became an appealing visual presentation.

With Panda 4, we get a Dolby Atmos soundtrack. Downconverted to Dolby TrueHD 7.1, this mix offered a lively soundscape, especially during the many action sequences. Those fleshed out the spectrum in an involving way and gave us many chances for movement.

This allowed the surrounds to play an active role. The track worked well enough in the early stages but it picked up more as it went, especially as the film neared its climax. The various channels got a good workout in this engrossing soundscape.

Audio quality seemed pleasing. Speech always sounded distinctive and concise, while music was peppy and rich.

Effects offered solid reproduction, with clean highs and deep lows. I liked this mix and thought it gave the movie life.

As we shift to extras, we launch with an audio commentary from director Mike Mitchell, co-director Stephanie Ma Stine, production designer Paul Duncan, head of character animation Sean Sexton and head of story Calvin Tsang. All five sit together for this running, screen-specific look at story/characters, cast and performances, music, editing and cut sequences, various design choices, influences and related topics.

Overall, this becomes a good commentary, and one with an amusing twist. Early in the discussion, we learn that the participants were told not to mention the names of other movies or TV shows.

Given how often they discuss influences, this turns into a struggle, and a funny one because the speakers often either forget to hide the identify of other projects or they try to tell us those tiles with not-very-vague references.

This helps give the commentary a lively feel, and we get plenty of useful information as well. Some DreamWorks commentaries can feel dry and mechanical, but this one balances the creative and technical elements well.

An exclusive animated short called Dueling Dumplings spans three minutes, 13 seconds. That includes a 30-second intro from actors Awkwafina and Jack Black.

At two minutes, 43 seconds, Dumplings becomes an awfully short short. Still, it offers some amusement, as does that intro.

Two Deleted Scenes appear: “Dads on the Trail” (0:57) and “Mahjong” (0:51). Both appear as story reels, so don’t expect formal animation.

“Dads” extends an existing scene, while “Mahjong” provides a tidbit that would’ve appeared at the film’s end. The latter becomes amusing but “Dads” adds too little to matter.

Some featurettes follow, and Kung Fu Talking fills two minutes, 26 seconds. Along with some promotional shots of actor Viola Davis, we see the actors in the studio here. The reel offers minor fun.

Meet the Cast breaks into four segments that occupy a total of 13 minutes, 46 seconds. Across these, we hear from Black, Awkwafina, Mitchell, Stine, and Davis.

We get basics about the characters as well as the actors’ performances. Expect a mix of fluff and a few decent insights.

Next comes Kung Fu Panda 4 All!, an eight-minute, five-second reel. It features Mitchell, Black, Stine, Sexton, Awkwafina, Davis, Duncan, head of effects Jason Mayer, art director Peter Maynez, head of locations Youxi Woo, and actors James Hong and Ronny Chieng.

“All” gives us thoughts about characters and design as well as cast/performances, animation and photography. This becomes another mix of useful notes and happy talk.

Mastering the Dumpling goes for six minutes, 16 seconds and features Black with podcaster Helen Wu and film producer Philip Wang as they teach us how to make dumplings.

Since they tell us at the start they’re not experts on the subject, it seems unclear why Wu and Wang lead this tutorial. With Black in tow, however, it becomes moderately entertaining in addition to its informational value.

With How to Draw, we get guided lessons so we can sketch Po (4:37 – led by Sexton), Zhen (4:52 – led by animation supervisor Patrick Giusiano), The Chameleon (7:39 – led by animation supervisor Ludovic Bouancheau) and The Bad Bunnies (7:53 – led by Sexton). A staple of bonus materials for animated films, these prove reasonably informative.

Shadow Puppet Theater runs eight minutes, six seconds and offers instructions on how to create homemade puppet shows. Kids may enjoy this.

Eight years after the franchise’s prior entry, Kung Fu Panda 4 fails to bring new life to the series. Though it comes with minor entertainment value, it never seems better than mediocre and uninspired. The Blu-ray delivers strong picture and audio along with a decent array of bonus materials. Expect a lackluster animated tale here.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2.5 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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