Kung Fu Panda The Dragon Knight review: Netflix show limps and sags
Director of Kung Fu Panda The Dragon Knight: Shaunt Nigoghossian
The cast of Kung Fu Panda The Dragon Knight: Jack Black, Rita Ora, Della Saba, Chris Geere, James Hong
Kung Fu Panda The Dragon Knight review: 2.5 stars
That size didn’t matter was the best thing about Kung Fu Panda movies. Whether it’s the eponymous panda Po with his love for dumplings or Master Shifu the red panda with his wisdom or Po Ping’s father the goose.
But when you turn this into an 11-episode series (available now on Netflix), size is all that matters. And regardless of the good intentions, the badass fights, and a few interesting new additions, The Dragon Knight is flabby and slouchy – quite unlike his graceful Po.
There’s no self-discovery here, as Po has all grown up and even semi-retired as a famous Dragon Master. This latest adventure comes to him when he goes on a food tour in China and meets a pair of weasels who are looking for a mythical glove (in the shape of Iron Man’s glove, but too bad).
The weasels, Veruca and her brother Klaus Dumont, are voiced by Saba and Geere. And Saba is especially a delight as Veruca.
The best thing about this series is also chasing them, a bear called Luthera the Wandering Blade, an English knight who wants to save the queen and the country from the Dumonts. If the siblings get their hands on the gauntlet, followed by three other mythical weapons, they can destroy the world.
Watch the Kung Fu Panda The Dragon Knight trailer here:
This kind of thing is easy to Po, more or less many playful falls. What Luthera (Ora) adds, apart from the romantic angle, is the construction of a myth about England and its knights that parallels Po’s kung fu mysticism. Subliminally there is also a suggestion about the mostly quiet behavior of the East, in contrast to the muscle flexing of the West, and not the normal talk now in the wake of China’s rise.
If Luthera’s sword is “forged from the black steel of Equinox”, the other weapons in her fellow knights’ armor that she explains in detail are “Bone Kisser” and “Skull Piercer”, for to name just a few.
Po, the unassuming darling that he is, superbly voiced by Jack Black again, is very, very impressed. So impressed that he begs Luthera to let him be her page, the first stop on a knight’s journey.
But times like these where Po and Luthera, Po and Ping, Dumont and Dumont, just may be, are rare. There are always lizards to fight, rivers of lava to cross, Imperial guards to face and forbidden combatants to face.
Moreover, the great Shifu does not make an appearance, nor do the fabulous Furious Five. Po can’t even eat a meal to his “full potential”. And that’s really a shame.