Review: Legend of Kung Fu Rabbit (2011)

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Starring (American Voices) Jon Heder, Tom Arnold, Rebecca Black, Michael Clarke Duncan

Fight Choreography by Jing Jianjun

Directed by Lijun Sun

It’s no secret that when Kung Fu Panda and, to a far lesser degree, the Forbidden Kingdom came out, both films celebrating Chinese culture, and it caused no shortage of embarrassment among Chinese filmmakers for being beaten to the punch by Hollywood. This film was created to be an answer to Kung Fu Panda. So the question is does it work?

The film follows the journey or Fu (Heder) a rabbit who owns his own bakery (sounds familiar?) and one day finds Shifu (Arnold), and martial arts master dying in front of his home. Shifu has been betrayed by his former pupil Slash, an evil panda (!).  Fu takes Shifu in, and Shifu transfers his kung-fu knowledge telepathically into Fu’s head, with instructions to take a talisman to his daughter Penny, who runs his school (and, basically the country). Shifu then dies, leaving the not-very-smart Fu to find Penny on his own. Meanwhile, Penny and her friend Biggie return home from their travels to find that Slash has taken over, and that Penny’s father Shifu is dead, leading Penny to exact her revenge against Slash, and soon Fu must dig deep to save Penny and the land from Slash.

Kung Fu Rabbit

This film just has the feel of “knee-jerk” written all over it, but there are great sins committed in this film. The first of which was Fu, who is an idiot here. Not even a lovable idiot, but just a moron. What’s worse is that, for the majority of the running time of the film, he flounders about, knowing nothing of Kung Fu and getting sidetracked as a waiter for the majority of the film, while Penny is the one who gets the action scenes, but since they are all separate from Fu, it was hard to care about any of them. Fu doesn’t have a single action scene until the final fight with Slash at the end of the film! My biggest problem with the film is that, at least in Kung Fu Panda Po becoming the Dragon Warrior was something he had earned. Here Fu is telepathically given kung-fu knowledge, and never uses it until the end. The animation, however, is lush and beautiful. Not quite as good as Kung Fu Panda, but it has a style of its own that was refreshing to see.

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The fights scenes themselves are quite good, nearly comparable to those in Kung Fu Panda, as each move is clear, regardless of speed. The final fight is well done and pays a good homage to the old school kung-fu films. Several of Penny’s fights are good, but the lack of fighting from the main character brings everything down quite a bit.

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 4

There are a few things to like about Legend of Kung Fu Rabbit, but not enough to recommend it. A film that tries to be like Kung Fu Panda and isn’t anywhere close.


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