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Today’s Prayer Focus

Kung Fu Panda 4

also known as “O Panda do Kung Fu 4,” “Кунг фу панда 4,” “Панда Кунг-Фу 4,” See more »
MPA Rating: PG-Rating (MPA) for martial arts action/mild violence, scary images and some mild rude humor.

Reviewed by: Mike Klamecki

Moral Rating: Average (somewhat offensive)
Moviemaking Quality:
Primary Audience: Kids Preteens Family
Genre: Animation Action Adventure Comedy Family Fantasy Sequel
Length: 1 hr. 34 min.
Year of Release: 2024
USA Release: March 8, 2024 (wide release)
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Relevant Issues
Copyright, Universal Pictures

Setting: Fictional ancient China

Chinese martial arts

Training a new warrior

Leaving a life of fighting to become a spiritual leader in the Valley of Peace

WISDOM—What is biblical wisdom?

Thief and a den of thieves

Evil sorceress

Female shapeshifter

Brings dead villains back from the “Spirit Realm”

What is DEATH? and WHY does it exist? Answer in the Bible

What is the FINAL JUDGMENT? and WHAT do you need to know about it? Answer

Kid Explorers
Adventures in the rainforest! Learn about the Creator of the universe by exploring His marvelous creation in Christian Answers’ site for kids—activities, stories, answers to children’s questions, coloring pages, and more
Featuring Jack BlackPo (voice)
AwkwafinaZhen (voice)
Viola DavisChameleon (voice)
Dustin HoffmanShifu (voice)
James HongMr. Ping (voice)
Bryan CranstonLi (voice)
Ian McShaneTai Lung (voice)
Ke Huy Quan … Han (voice)
Ronny Chieng … Actor (voice)
Lori Tan Chinn … Granny Boar (voice)
Cece Valentina … Den Bunny
Director Mike Mitchell
Stephanie Stine
Producer Rebecca Huntley
DreamWorks Animation
Universal Pictures

When I took my oldest daughter to see the original Kung Fu Panda in the theater, which came out in 2008, she was only in 1st grade. When the last Kung Fu Panda came out in 2016 she was almost done with middle school. Now she is 22, a college graduate, and living on her own just in time for “Kung Fu Panda 4” to hit the theaters (and no, she couldn’t come with me this time due to working the night shift… sigh). Po the Panda has been in our family’s life for quite a while and still drops in from time to time it seems. If you are a parent of grown kids you can probably say the same.

With a sixteen year old kids’ franchise still existing, I guess the question is… should it still exist? Has Po overstayed his welcome? Should Shifu think about retirement? Has the journey reached the end of the path of enlightenment? And, most importantly, is this one okay for your little ninjas to see?

Much like a video game, the Kung Fu Panda series has always been about advancing to the next level. In the first movie Po must advance from a lowly noodle waiter to the realization of his calling as the Dragon Warrior. The second movie has him advance to the level that gives him inner peace, even as cannonballs whiz by his head. The third movie has Po advance to gain and control the Ch’i that is common among pandas (just roll with it). Now Part 4 is centered around Po passing off the Dragon Warrior title to a protégée in order to pursue becoming the new Spiritual Leader of the Valley, much like Master Oogway.

I guess Master Oogway in Part 3 told Po that he had to do that? It’s hard to remember back to 2016. It doesn’t seem like a smart move for the series, because who wants to see Po sit and meditate for 90 minutes? But here we are.

Immediately we notice that the Furious Five are not to be found because they are all off on their own adventures at the moment. We do get to see them towards the end, but in both cases they don’t speak a word, and my guess it’s to keep the production costs down by limiting all those paid movie star voices (well, Seth Rogen gets a line or two as Mantis). However, we do get lots of Shifu (Dustin Hoffman), Po’s adoptive duck-dad Ping (the always excellent James Hong), and Po’s panda-dad Li (Bryan Cranston).

Jack Black reprises his role as Po but this role of being the formidable and seasoned Dragon Warrior looking to retire limits what makes Jack Black’s voice work so great. Jack Black’s super power is, and has always been, his amazing ability to lean into his over-the-top eagerness. In the best Jack Black roles (“School of Rock, ” “Kung Fu Panda 1, ” and even the delightful Bernie) his best trait is to be super eager and ready to please. Po is not eager to find a replacement in the first place, so that immediately limits the effectiveness of Jack Black’s voice work, and it’s pretty obvious. He still can call upon his manic energy, but something else is definitely missing.

The big bad is the power-hungry Chameleon played by a devious Viola Davis who seeks Po’s staff of wisdom so she can take the spirit realm’s most dangerous warriors and suck the fighting styles out of them via her skills as a sorcerer.

Once she steals the fighting styles of all the greatest warriors, she will be powerful enough to take over the world… or something like that. So naturally she is after Po, but he goes on a quest to confront her in the bustling metropolis known as Juniper City where its becomes a basic fish-out-of-water scenario for Po (even as he catches a water taxi to Juniper City driven by an actual fish out of water).

Good thing he has made quasi-friend in the sly fox Zhen played by, you guessed it, Awkwafina as another spunky, wise-cracking side-kick. It’s a role we have seen before, and she does a good job, but that’s to be expected with all the practice. Zhen is a city-wise fox with quite a few wanted posters on display showing Po that she is definitely conscience-challenged.

They both navigate the challenges of the big city and avoid the Chameleon’s ever present hench-lizards who take joy in bullying and extorting the shopkeepers and residents. Po is also trying to help Zhen make good moral choices—like not stealing and scamming everyone that she comes across.

There is a side-story not really worth mentioning of Po’s duck and panda dads leaving the village to chase Po and make sure he is okay while he seeks to stop the bad guy. The most I can say is that they get lots of opportunities to mess things up and proudly state that they are Po’s “dads”.

I have to say the Dreamworks Studio animation is pretty amazing. The action scenes are kinetic, if not too fast and too much at times, and the potty humor is not over the top. There are a few flatulence jokes that made the kids in my theater laugh the loudest.

No issues with language or scary images being too intense. The most violent creatures are three little adorable adolescent bunnies that attack just about everyone because “Violence makes their tummies tingle.”

Po’s constant teaching to Zhen to choose to do the right thing even when it’s hard really resonates well with Po’s good-guy demeanor and brings many lessons about listening to your conscience to the audience.

Q & A

How can I know what is RIGHT or WRONG? Answer

How can I DISCERN whether a particular activity is wrong? Answer


What is GOODNESS? Answer


Are we living in a MORAL STONE AGE? Answer

As with all the Kung Fu Panda movies there is a heavy insistence on Eastern religious practices, mysticism and related concepts. I don’t remember my kids ever asking about ch’i or inner peace or any other concepts in the Kung Fu Panda films, but it is best to be ready if those questions do arise with your young ones. This movie doesn’t dwell as much as the other movies did on Eastern mysticism as far as gaining a certain power or skill.

We also see some afterlife situations as warriors from the past, including a welcome guest spot by Tai Lung (Ian McShane) from the first movie, are resurrected and drained of their fighting skills.

All this can be confusing to young children so parents may want to give their own commentary at the end of the movie about what the Bible teaches about God being the only One who can control what happens when we die and, for true believers in Jesus, to be present with the Lord when we are away from the body.

“Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord.” —2 Corinthians 5:8 NLT

When we are with the Lord we are home to stay and nothing can tear us away from God’s home, not even an evil chameleon with a “staff of wisdom.”

Also young kids that are seeing this probably have not seen any other Kung Fu Panda movies (or don’t recall the one eight years ago) and will wonder why Po has two dads. Of course, we who have followed the series for a decade-and-a-half know Ping is Po’s adoptive duck-dad and Li is Po’s real panda-dad who he found in his past adventures, but that may be lost on the young ones. Best to remind them of the roles and the history of Po’s dad story before going to see this movie.

Did the world need another Kung Fu Panda? I don’t think so. I’m happy that iJack Black and Dustin Hoffman are getting some work… haven’t seen them in a while..

Even if it’s one of the least of the series, it’s probably the best animated movie that has come out in a long while so some may find it worth their time. I don’t look forward to another one.

  • Occult: Heavy
  • Violence: Moderate
  • Wokeism: Mild
  • Vulgar/Crude language: Minor
  • Profane language: None
  • Nudity: None
  • Sex: None
  • Drugs/Alcohol: None

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Neutral—I was quite surprised how entertaining this movie was. It was pretty funny and constantly full of action so much so I was surprised when it was over. Of course, I wouldn’t recommend small kids see it because of the magnification of sorcery and powers and drawing them into wanting to be curious about those things, but it doesn’t seem like you can watch any of these animated shows that don’t have some type of sorcery wizardry agenda and what they are doing. Including the evil character, trying to suck out the powers of the other characters and becoming more evil, almost like she was sucking out their soul in the scenes, even though they were still alive.

Also, with them, knowing young people are going to watch this, the magnification of the promotion of violence and evil from these little bunnies the whole time was very odd as well.

Also, it was extremely odd how many times the two fathers of the panda they had to mention that over and over again. I didn’t know what that was because I actually didn’t see the previous movies but I looked it up on-line and it said that one of them was the adopted father and one was his real father that he found later in a previous episode. I just thought it was an odd agenda that they kept mentioning that over and over that there were two fathers, although there was no insinuation they were in some type of relationship, it was just odd to mention that like seven times!

Putting those annoying things aside, it was entertaining and probably even more for me because I hadn’t seen the previous sequels so I didn’t have much to compare it to.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
Stephanie, age 49 (USA)

PLEASE share your observations and insights to be posted here.

Secular Movie Critics
…this outing is weak… Instead of finding the perfect balance of humor as the other films did, jokes outweigh and occasionally undercut the few resounding sentiments on personal evolution. …
Courtney Howard, The A.V. Club
…For kids, the film is watchable because Black still finds ways to boost the movie with genuine charisma through his vocal talents alone (so much so you wonder why he isn’t working more in live action)…
Gregory Ellwood, The Playlist
…they’ve hit the wall when it comes to new ideas. But even they’d have to admit that cashing-in on a time-tested intellectual property may make business sense, and that Po and Co. deserved better than this. …[1½/4]
Roger Moore, Movie Nation
…Jack Black goes through the motions, but there’s not much kick left… Po is on the verge of retirement, which might not be a bad idea, given the lack of surprise and good jokes. …
Owen Gleiberman, Variety
…The movie rarely shuts up or calms down for more than five seconds, and while the first “Panda” sequels were getting that way, the relative rhythmic variety and verbal spice of the original feels pretty far gone now.
Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune
…The so-so story aside…this iteration of “Panda” appealingly wears its heart on its paw. And that’s sufficient reason for families to choose it over a lot of other animated schlock out there. …
Johnny Oleksinski, New York Post
…Between the strained punchlines and the unsurprising plot twists, the picture feels obligatory rather than inspired. …
Tim Grierson, Screen Daily
…Lacks the flavor of previous Po adventures… a sequel that doesn’t necessarily tarnish the franchise, but also shows it was probably best to let sleeping pandas lie. …
Matt Goldberg, The Wrap
…fun but largely unnecessary…
Wilson Chapman, IndieWire
…for anyone expecting the excellence of the previous films, this dumpling is a little too light on the filling…
Katie Walsh, Tribune News Service