Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Dustin Hoffman, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu, David Cross, James Hong, and Jackie Chan reprise their character roles from the original film. They are joined by Gary Oldman, Michelle Yeoh, Danny McBride, Dennis Haysbert, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Victor Garber.
In the film, Po and the Furious Five battle an evil peacock named Lord Shen who has a powerful weapon that he plans to conquer China with. However Po discovers a terrifying secret about his past in the process. And he also discovers that Shen has something to do with it.
The film was released in theatres May 26, 2011 in Real D 3D and Digital 3D. Kung Fu Panda 2 grossed $665 million worldwide against its $150 million budget. The film was the highest-grossing animated feature film of the year and was nominated for the 2011 Academy Award for Best Animated Feature at the 84th Academy Awards.
Lord Shen, the scion of a peacock clan that rules Gongmen City in ancient China, seeks to weaponize gunpowder, which had recently been invented to create fireworks. After discovering from the court's goat soothsayer that "a warrior of black-and-white" will defeat him if he does not change his ways, Shen leads an army of wolves to exterminate the panda population to avert the prophecy. Shen's parents are horrified at this atrocity and exile their son, who swears revenge.
Decades later, Po is living his dream as the Dragon Warrior, protecting the Valley of Peace alongside his friends and fellow kung fu masters, the Furious Five. His teacher Shifu tells him, however, that he has yet to achieve inner peace. While defending a village from wolf bandits who have been stealing refined metal for Shen, Po is distracted by a symbol on the wolf leader's armor, which causes Po to have a flashback of his mother and allows the wolves to escape. Po asks his goose father, Mr. Ping, about his origins. Ping reveals that he found Po as an infant in a radish crate and adopted him, but Po remains unsatisfied, wondering how and why he ended up in the Valley of Peace.
Shifu receives word that Shen has returned to Gongmen City and killed Thundering Rhino, the leader of the kung fu council protecting the City, and is plotting to conquer China with his newly developed weapon, a cannon. Shifu sends Po and the Furious Five to Gongmen City to stop Shen and destroy his weapon. They find the city occupied by Shen's forces, with the two surviving council members Storming Ox and Croc imprisoned. The six heroes ask the council members for help to liberate the city, but the two cite their helplessness against Shen's weapon and refuse. Po and the Five are discovered by the wolf boss and give chase, only to be arrested in front of Shen's tower.
Upon being brought before Shen in his tower, Po and the Five free themselves and destroy Shen's weapon. However, Po is again distracted by a flashback upon seeing the same symbol as before on Shen's plumage, realizing Shen was there the last night Po saw his parents. This allows Shen to escape and destroy the tower with an arsenal of cannons. After Po and the Five escape, Tigress tells Po to stay behind for his own safety. Despite this, Po breaks into the factory to question Shen about his past, inadvertently foiling the Five's plan to destroy the factory. Shen claims that Po's parents abandoned him, and then blasts Po out of the factory into a river with a cannon, where he is presumed dead.
Po survives and is rescued by the soothsayer, who takes him to the ruins of the nearby village where Po was born. Guided by the soothsayer to embrace his past, Po remembers that when he was an infant, his parents had sacrificed themselves to save him from Shen's army, his mother hiding him in a radish crate and luring Shen's forces away from him. Po attains inner peace, realizing that he has lived a happy and fulfilling life despite this early tragedy.
Po returns to Gongmen City to save the captive Five and prevent Shen's conquest of China. A battle ensues between Shen's armada, sailing in the heart of Gongmen City, and Po and the Five, joined by Shifu, who has persuaded Ox and Croc to help. Po modifies the movements used during his inner peace training to redirect Shen's cannonballs against his own armada, destroying it. Po then urges Shen to let go of his own past, but Shen attacks Po until Shen slashes the ropes holding up his last cannon, which falls on top of him, crushing him to death while the ship explodes. Victorious, Po returns to the Valley of Peace and reunites with Mr. Ping, lovingly declaring the goose to be his father.
At the same time, Po's birth father is revealed to have survived Shen's attack and is shown to be living in a far-off, hidden village inhabited by surviving pandas, and senses that his son is still alive.Jack Black as Po
Angelina Jolie as Master Tigress
Dustin Hoffman as Master Shifu
Gary Oldman as Lord Shen
Jackie Chan as Master Monkey
Lucy Liu as Master Viper
Seth Rogen as Master Mantis
David Cross as Master Crane
James Hong as Mr. Ping
Michelle Yeoh as Soothsayer
Danny McBride as Wolf Boss
Dennis Haysbert as Master Storming Ox
Jean-Claude Van Damme as Master Croc
Victor Garber as Master Thundering Rhino
Fred Tatasciore as Po's birth Dad (known as Li Shan in Kung Fu Panda 3)
Conrad Vernon as Boar
After the original Kung Fu Panda was released in June 2008, DreamWorks Animation planned a second film with the subtitle Pandamoneum, which was changed by 2010 to The Kaboom of Doom before simply being retitled to Kung Fu Panda 2. Jennifer Yuh Nelson, who was head of story for the first film, was hired to direct the sequel. The original film's cast members reprised their voice roles. Like the other DreamWorks Animation films that began production in 2009, Kung Fu Panda 2 was produced in DreamWorks' stereoscopic 3-D technology of InTru 3D.
Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger, screenwriters and co-producers for the first film, returned to write and co-produce the sequel, with Charlie Kaufman consulting on the screenplay early on in the development process.
In Kung Fu Panda 2, the production crew showed increased familiarity with Chinese culture. In 2008, after the release of Kung Fu Panda, DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg and other DreamWorks members visited the city of Chengdu, which is considered as the "panda hometown". In addition to seeing real pandas, crew members learned about the local culture. Katzenberg has stated that the sequel incorporates many elements of Chengdu in the film. The film's landscape and architecture also found inspiration from those found at Mount Qingcheng, a renowned Taoist mountain. In an interview with Movieline, Berger stated that "we never really thought of this as a movie set in China for Americans; it's a movie set in an mythical, universalized China for everyone in the world."
Kung Fu Panda 2 was screened at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival in early May before its commercial release. In the United States, it premiered on May 22, 2011, at Grauman's Chinese Theatre, in Hollywood, California. The film was widely released in the United States on May 26, 2011, in the United Kingdom on June 10, 2011, and in Australia on June 23, 2011. It was also released in IMAX theaters in the EMEA region.
The film was released on DVD and Blu-ray on December 13, 2011, accompanied with the short film Kung Fu Panda: Secrets of the Masters and an episode of the Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness television series.
On the review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 81% based on 167 reviews, and an average rating of 6.9/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "The storyline arc may seem a tad familiar to fans of the original, but Kung Fu Panda 2 offers enough action, comedy, and visual sparkle to compensate." On Metacritic the film has a weighted average score of 67 out of 100 based on 31 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
Variety called the film "a worthy sequel that gets an extra kick from the addition of dynamic 3D fight sequences," while The Hollywood Reporter similarly praised the film. Roger Ebert gave the film 3.5 out of 4 stars, praising the sequel as superior to the original and as an ambitious extension of the previous story.
Some critics noted the influences of executive producer Guillermo del Toro's works in the film's darker themes, and Jim Tudor of TwitchFilm.net describes that with del Toro on board, the film "effectively probes deeper into Po's emerging hero's journey and personal issues, evoking a truly fulfilling Campbellian archetype, but also remains fully viable as mainstream entertainment suitable for all ages."
As with the first film, the animation has been praised. Frank Lovece of Film Journal International describes the film as "truly beautiful to behold" and states it "works on both aesthetic and emotional levels". Betsy Sharkey of the Los Angeles Times writes that "For Panda 2 is not just wall-to-wall animation, it is artistry of the highest order." Many critics praised Gary Oldman for his voice acting and developed characterization of Lord Shen, with some comparing him favorably to Ian McShane's voice performance as Tai Lung in the original film, with Angie Errigo of Empire Magazine calling him "fabulous as the feathered fiend and his character animators do his performance proud with a stunning, balletic fighting style, the fan tail flicking with lethal fascination." Kyle Smith of the New York Post said, "It's a bit hard to be terrified of a peacock (the snow leopard in the first movie was way more sinister). But the animators are in charge, and they succeed in dazzling with Lord Shen's look."
The film grossed $165.2 million in the United States and Canada, along with $500.4 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $665.7 million. In total, 3D contributed approximately 53% of the film's worldwide gross. Worldwide, it is the highest-grossing 2011 animated film and the sixth highest-grossing film of 2011. Overall, it is the 14th highest-grossing animated film and the 69th highest-grossing film. On its first weekend, it earned $108.9 million worldwide, ranking third behind Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and The Hangover Part II. It was the highest-grossing film directed by a woman until Frozen two years later, as the well as the highest-grossing film directed solely by a woman until 2017's Wonder Woman.
In North America, the film earned $5.8 million on its opening day (Thursday, May 26, 2011), ranking second behind The Hangover: Part II. On Friday, the film earned $13.1 million, which was behind the original's $20.3 million opening Friday. Over the three-day weekend (Friday-to-Sunday), the film earned $47.7 million, which was behind the original's $60.2 million debut. The film went on to make $13.2 million on Memorial Day, bringing its 4-day weekend to $60.9 million.
Outside North America, the film debuted with $55.5 million on the same weekend as its North American debut, topping the box office in nine out of eleven countries in which it was released. It ranked third overall behind Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and The Hangover Part II. The film topped the box office outside North America on two consecutive weekends (its third and fourth weekend).
In China, its highest-grossing market after North America, two different grosses were reported, one a $19.3 million two-day weekend and the other a $16.7 million two-day weekend. Either way, the film set an opening-day record in the country. It earned $93.19 million in total, making it the highest-grossing animated film released in China, surpassing previous record-holder Kung Fu Panda ($26,024,298). It held the record until 2015, when it was surpassed by Chinese Monkey King: Hero Is Back. The Asian-themed film scored the largest opening weekend for an animated film in Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, in South Korea and Thailand. It became the highest-grossing film released in Vietnam, surpassing Avatar.
DreamWorks Animation has invested $100 million in creating promotional partners and building up marketing for its films. For Kung Fu Panda 2, DWA has partnerships with McDonald's, AT&T, Best Buy, General Mills (cereals), Sun-Maid (raisins), Airheads (candy), Hint Water and HP. The film's characters are used in products and advertising campaigns across various media. The studio is also pursuing social media efforts to promote the film.
DWA partnered with House Foods America to brand its products, notably tofu, with advertising of the film. Variety reported that the partnership was the first-ever between a film studio and a tofu company. The studio also enlisted the parade balloon of Po from the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade to tour in six cities, concluding with Los Angeles over Memorial Day weekend in late May 2011.
Merchandise was also produced for the film: Fisher-Price (toys), THQ (video games), Hallmark (cards), and Jem Sportswear (apparel). Publishers VTech, Penguin Books, Dalmatian Press, and Ape Entertainment released books tied to the film.
Kung Fu Panda 2 is the soundtrack of the film of the same name, collaboratively scored by Hans Zimmer and John Powell and originally released on May 24, 2011.
A video game adaptation of the film was developed by Griptonite Games and published by THQ on May 23, 2011. The game was released for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii and Nintendo DS platforms. The plot takes place after the events of the film, and features Po and the rest of the Furious Five troubled by an evil group of Komodo dragon mercenaries. With the help of the other kung fu masters, Po has to uncover the plot behind this siege and put a stop to it.
A sequel, Kung Fu Panda 3, was released on January 29, 2016. It was directed again by Jennifer Yuh Nelson, and was produced in co-production with the Chinese-American studio Oriental DreamWorks.
DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg said back in 2010 that perhaps the series could see three more sequels after Kung Fu Panda 3, bringing it to a six-film series.
Beside the main films, Kung Fu Panda franchise also consists of three short films Kung Fu Panda: Secrets of the Furious Five, Kung Fu Panda Holiday Special and Kung Fu Panda: Secrets of the Masters. A television series titled Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness aired on Nickelodeon from September 19, 2011 to June 29, 2016. The show ran for three seasons and had a total of 78 episodes.