DVD Review: Kung Fu Panda & Secrets of the Furious Five

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Synoposis: Enthusiastic, big and a little clumsy, Po works in his family’s noodle shop while daydreaming about becoming a Kung Fu master. His dreams soon become reality when he is unexpectedly chosen to join the world of Kung Fu and study alongside his idols-the legendary fighters Tigress, Crane, Mantis, Viper and Monkey-under the leadership of their guru, Master Shifu. But before they know it, the vengeful and treacherous snow leopard Tai Lung is headed their way, and it’s up to Po to defend everyone from the oncoming threat. Can he turn his dreams of becoming a Kung Fu hero into reality? Po puts his heart and his girth into the task, and ultimately finds that his greatest weaknesses turn out to be his greatest strengths.

the DVD’s Bonus Features

As witnessed with their recent release of Shrek the Halls, one of the things that DreamWorks excels at is filling their child-friendly DVDs with enough video game styled activities and easy to use special features and menus to make their DVDs tremendously appealing. While Shrek the Halls and Panda‘s counterpart, Furious Five are mostly tailored directly for youngsters, the crystal clear transfer of Kung Fu Panda from theatre to DVD is augmented by extras for all ages.

Providing a feature-length running commentary by the film’s two directors as well as some excellent behind-the-scenes making-of-featurettes that will delight film lovers as we realize we can’t even begin to fathom how much work it was to creat a humorous animated hybrid of a kung fu comedy to appeal to children and adults, we’re given the DVD equivalent of a DreamWorks Animation Studio pass.

Secrets of the Furious Five DVD

While it’s easy to be skeptical when a twenty-four minute short film hits DVD as a tie-in to a blockbuster hit, especially when one realizes that we have a different director and few of the original voice actors involved, after only a few minutes of Furious Five, it’s easy to cast those fears aside. High-quality and fun, Secrets of the Furious Five is structurally shaped like an excuse at a positive after-school special as Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) surprises Po (Jack Black) with the prospect of teaching an introduction to kung fu class filled with boisterous adorable bunnies. However, it becomes quickly engrossing as Po must reign in the eager youngsters by telling them that kung fu is not all about fighting.

While the DVD for the feature film is more focused on the technical aspects of the cinematic process, Furious Five is completely dedicated to entertaining its youngest fans. With some great interactive features including a Pandamonium Activity Kit (to coincide with the 2-DVD Package Set) that works in your DVD-Rom to games and a great artistic lesson that teaches kids to draw their favorite characters from the film, it’s also filled with extra educational opportunities as you move into the “Land of the Panda” menu to discover more about the Chinese Zodiac, the animals from the film, and another kung fu lesson that parents will certainly want to supervise.

Also released in widescreen, along with the feature film to capture the theatrical aspect ratio, it’s a great bonus for children and worth the investment for those of you interested enough in buying the original film to just bring home the two-pack to avoid an extra cost or second purchase down the road and by focusing on the positive, intellectual aspects of self-discipline and wisdom that coincide with kung fu, it makes a worthwhile double feature for children who may feel– much like Po’s unruly bunnies– overly anxious to start trying to kick everything in sight.