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Blu-ray Review HTF Blu-Ray Review: Kung Fu Panda (1 Viewer)


Supporting Actor
Jun 13, 2002

Kung Fu Panda (Blu-Ray)

Studio: DreamWorks Animation Home Video
Rated: PG (martial arts violence)
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
HD Encoding: 1080p
HD Video Codec: MPEG4-AVC
Audio: English Dolby TrueHD 5.1; French, Spanish, Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, Portuguese; English SDH
Time: 92 minutes
Disc Format: 1 SS/DL Blu-Ray
Case Style: Keep case
Theatrical Release Date:2008
Blu-Ray Release Date: November 9, 2008

If you’ve read my reviews of any of the animated, CG anthropomorphic movies, you know that the thing that annoys me the most about them is the story’s reliance on making the animals just as hip as possible. They sing semi-current top ten pop songs, they speak in the lingo of the day and use phrases that make the audience laugh simply because it’s a lemur (or tiger, or giraffe, or what have you). To this I declare weak storytelling and poor characterization since the movie’s creators could not come up with anything funnier than an animal using some derivative of “izzle”.

It was with this trepidation that I walked into Kung Fu Panda figuring Jack Black’s vocal stylings would easily breeze into the role of kung fu wanna be panda, Po. While Black does assume the role with ease, he does so thanks to a tight and funny script that infuses a lot of heart into the average story of the underdog making good. Po is an oversized panda who is a self professed kung fu geek who knows he doesn’t have the traits necessary to be a true master. He works for his dad at a noodle restaurant, and papasan has high hopes Po will take over the restaurant and learn “the secret ingredient”. When Po is inadvertently chosen over the far more suitable Furious Five to be the champion against the evil Tai Lung (voiced by Ian McShane), he must dig deep into his considerable girth in order to learn the true secrets of kung fu and defeat the bad guy.

The enjoyable and warm script is coupled with action scenes that are simply amazing. I went back to the battle on the rope bridge and the final duel just to revel in how much work went into this picture. We’ve all seen CG battles, but the ones here take it to a new level of excitement and technique. There are dizzying displays of real kung fu techniques mixed in with wuxia goodness and a sprinkling of Matrix-y reaction shots. Spend some time after you watch the picture once just to see how well it has been done.

Note: I am watching this title using a Marantz VP 11-S1 DLP projector, which has a native resolution of 1080p. I am using a Sony Playstation 3 Blu-Ray player while a Denon 3808CI does the switching and pass through of the video signal. I am utilizing the HDMI capabilities of each piece of equipment.

The picture is framed at 2.35:1, and it is encoded in MPEG4-AVC at 1080p. The picture is absolutely pristine and clear with no dirt or noise in it. I noticed no compression artifacts, aliasing or edge enhancement. Color fidelity was excellent showing a wide array of colors in every scene. The animators seemed to be thinking more towards a classic animation style, that is, hand drawn and painted, as opposed to the slickness of usual CGI movies where everything looks a bit waxy and artificial. The art has a natural feel to it that emulates brush work as opposed to AMD processing power. Po’s dream in the beginning of the film hearkens towards Samurai Jack but with a bigger budget and even when we transition into Po’s real world, the shock of this new visual arena does not shock us too much. Black levels are excellent and sharpness and detail achieve new levels of clarity and realism. The image displays some incredible dimensionality throughout and would be a great contender for the 3-D treatment (ala Beowulf), but even without the picture remains an immersive experience.

The 5.1 Dolby TrueHD soundtrack was attained by the HDMI connection of the PS3 to the Denon 3808CI.

I listened to the feature with the 5.1 Dolby TrueHD track engaged. The audio mix itself is excellent providing a very active and accurate surround field. Information is constantly heard in the rears, and in the action scenes they blend in to provide a very convincing sound stage. Voices and effects come through crystal clear as there is no hiss or distortion noted. LFE’s engage during the action and music scenes, with the bass levels rumbling through the room.

Bonus Material: all of these items are in HD unless otherwise noted. The bonus features are split up into five different parts, each with their own topic and then you can drill down to the actual pieces.

Inside Kung Fu Panda
Trivia Track: this track features behind-the-scenes fun facts about the production, the animals and kung fu in general. The pop-ups added a lot to my enjoyment of the movie as they point out the difficulty in creating certain scenes and drive home the point of how much work can go into these CG movies.

Commentary with Directors: the directors are shown in a pop-up box on the lower right of the screen, similar to what will be seen in the next piece. The directors are commenting on the picture as it plays, but it also cuts to them directing the actors and other parts of the production, including story boards, pre-viz and animatics. They do a good job balancing the discussion of the story with the tech aspects.

The Animators’ Corner: animators, the directors and others explain the thought behind the look of the feature in a pop-up window, with Black as our guide. This is a pretty cool piece that allows you to get what is basically the animator’s commentary only with picture. There are also parts showing the voice actors recording their parts.

Pushing the Boundaries (7:07): as I said earlier, this movie has some of the most exciting and complex CG fights I have ever seen. Usually I’m quite bored by the bonus feature pieces when they discuss the CG, but here I was glued to the piece to see what new type of tech their using to achieve such amazing scenes.

Meet the Cast (13:18): an average EPK type piece where each of the cast talk about their characters.

Conservation International: Help Save Wild Pandas (2:00): Black gives us a public service announcement about our real world pandas and their plight.

Po’s Power Play: this section is set up with various games emulating scenes from the movie. The first is Dragon Warrior Training Academy (where you are in training hall of the Furious Five Masters. You can choose one of five doors and play each of the characters to become a master yourself); Dumpling Shuffle (try to find the hidden dumpling under one of several bowls); the final piece, Learn to Draw will show you how to draw your favorite character from the movie.

Sounds and Moves of Kung Fu
Sound Design (3:54): a quick piece on the foley effects and various other sound effects.

Kung Fu Fighting Music Video by Cee-Lo (2:29): the one concession I’ll give to a pop song since it isn’t part of the movie itself, and I actually now like a Cee-Lo song, even if it is a cover!

Learn the Panda Dance (4:32): dancer High Hat shows us how to dance like a panda.

Do You Kung Fu: another informational piece on how to practice kung fu. You are given the option of choosing one of six styles based on each of the animals.

Land of the Panda: these pieces are also informational based on different aspects of the film. Mr. Ping’s Noodle House (4:43): has Alton Brown, host of Iron Chef: America and chef Danny Yip describe how to make noodles; How to Use Chopsticks (2:56), Inside the Chinese Zodiac, and Animals of Kung Fu Panda (6:18): are self-explanatory. Finally, What Fighting Style Are You? has you answer a series of questions to see which fighting style you most resemble.

DreamWorks Animation Jukebox: this feature allows you to pick songs from several of your favorite DreamWorks animated titles. It then plays the song with accompanying animation from the feature.

Trailers for Monsters vs. Aliens and Madagascar 2, but not any for Kung Fu Panda. I hate that!

BD-Live: there are two segments here, “A Day in the Life: A Shaolin Monk in Training” and “Po Around the World”. The first piece is a download that explores the world of Shaolin Kung Fu and follow masters and students. This SD video piece is 11:11. The second piece allows you to download other language track to hear what Po would sound like in another language. Dreamworks tells us this material is available for a limited time, so I would assume they would be adding more content in the future.

A better than average story is only enhanced by an amazing video presentation. The extras are geared more towards the younger viewers, but us adults are sure to enjoy the various commentaries.

Todd smith

Supporting Actor
Apr 2, 2002
Thanks for the review. How would you rate the A/V out of 10?

This has been getting reference scores for both audio and video from quite a few reviewers. Ralph on AVS gave both the video and audio a 100/100 score and was the first disc to receive this honor. Cant wait to see/hear this


Supporting Actor
Sep 2, 2006
Real Name
Watched this the other night w/ my son and daughter. They both loved it and so did I. Video quality was 3D like (and that's a good thing) and audio was very good as well. Don't know if it merited a perfect score as I thought both Rat and Cars were just as good.


Senior HTF Member
Jul 25, 2000
Real Name
I watched this last night, hey, can I get my 90 minutes back, what a waste of time. I didn't even laugh once, only cracked a few smiles. Not funny, basic storyline, no stand out characters or anything memorable for that matter.

At least the A/V was good.

Felix Martinez

Aug 27, 2001
South Florida
Real Name
Felix E. Martinez
I was so pleasantly surprised by this one. My son wanted to see it, and I kinda bit my tongue, rented it and spun it up. Loved it. Just bought it - a keeper.

Sam Davatchi

Senior HTF Member
Sep 15, 1999
Real Name
This was also better than what I was expecting. I don't buy DreamWorks Animation normally but this is a keeper. The noodle making video by bare hands also blew my mind! Other extras were meh!

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