There are two animation studios out there that know how to make their sequels better than the original movie. The first one is notably Pixar and the second in my opinion is DreamWorks. Most of the sequels they have done in their franchises notable their second movies have stunned me by how they improved upon their predecessors. "Kung Fu Panda" was no exception. The second film not only stepped up the comedy and action but really succeeded in its drama. So when they announced the third movie, I was both eagerly excited and yet very nervous due to having bad memories of "Shrek the Third." I went in the feeling the same and left very satisfied. "Kung Fu Panda 3" is easily another great addition to the franchise as it does contain all of the elements that made the second film fantastic and builds to make a very satisfying conclusion to the series.
The dragon warrior Po (Jack Black) has been given his final lesson by Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) in this case learning the art of Chi so then he can take on his role as teacher of the Furious Five (Angelina Jolie, Lucy Liu, Jackie Chan, David Cross and Seth Rogan respectively). He realizes very quickly though that he is not a good teacher and tries to set out how he can find himself. During all the hubbub though, his biological father Li Shan (Bryan Cranston) finally reunites with his son and tells him of a secret panda village high above the mountains, much to the jealousy of Po's adopted father, Mr. Ping (James Hong). However, an evil yak from the spirit world named Kai (J.K. Simmons) returns to the mortal world and is out to destroy everything his former friend Master Oogway (Randall Duk Kim) had accomplished, notably taking away the Chi of the kung fu warriors he trained and turning them into jade zombies. Knowing he's near, Po must find out how to learn the art of Chi from the pandas and defeat Kai before all the warriors are captured.
The story is certainly the best element of the film. It once again steps up the comedy, and drama of the second film (even showing us the saddest scene again) but what the film really stepped up is the action. Oh wow, is the action suspenseful. This was easily what the films were building up to. The battles in this film are just epic. They keep you on the edge of your seat and make you worried about the characters, though they still throw in some comedy to keep the laughs coming. The climactic battle at the end, which I dare not spoil, is honestly one of the best action scenes put in animated film ever. The animation is yet again beautiful. Director Jennifer Yuh Nelson succeeds once again at blending elements of 2D and 3D animation together perfectly and also creating some beautiful backgrounds. The spirit world, in particular, was just eye-popping. I loved how the colors in the background looked. As for the characters, there once again great particularly the new ones. I really like Li Shan and the other pandas in the village. But by far, the character that really succeeded was Kai. What a fantastic villain! I never thought that he would be able to top Gary Oldman's devious character of Lord Shen but wow, J.K. Simmons knocked this character right out of the park. He's such a devious jerk of a villain yet he still has some comedy to him. He actually did have a very funny line during the final battle that really made me laugh. It's exactly what I expect.
"Kung Fu Panda 3" is yet another example of a great sequel with a fantastic story, beautiful animation, and really good characters. This is a really good sequel. I'm pretty sure that DreamWorks will probably stop the series here because I seriously don't know how they will be able to top this. It's just a great sequel and certainly one I'll really remember.