I watched Kung Fu Panda over the weekend.
It is a pretty solid, fun little kids movie. The fight scenes are beautiful and frequent, which is probably the most important thing to get right in a Kung Fu movie: you get that right and everything else can slide. The trailer focuses more on the funny bits, and obviously it is a children's movie, but the fight scenes -- especially the non CGI one that opens the movie -- were clearly created by fans of Samurai Jack, and they hold the comparison well. It is probably a little unfair to claim that a lot of the rest of the movie goes through the standard Kung Fu movie cliches: the montage sequences (good!), the secret that there is no secret (fine), the hokey Yoda like master (whatever). Jack Black especially does a good job making fun of the cliches at times. One of the reasons the Panda character is so great is that, like Jack Black and like myself and most of the audience, he is a FAN of Kung Fu more than any kind of real trainee. The thing is 88 minutes long and mostly good fight scenes so overall I think this is a winner.
The only thing that I thought was kind of deeply off though not bothersome -- because you really do not notice -- is the kind of absurd celebrity casting. Voice over actors have been complaining since Aladdin (and probably before that) that Hollywood has replaced them and their talents with famous people with recognizable voices to no great benefit. Jack Black is irreplaceable, Dustin Hoffman is pretty good, and Ian McShane (from Deadwood) does pretty awesome bad guy, obviously. But outside of Black and Hoffman this is primarily a fighting movie, so, as in Samurai Jack, the movie smartly does not have characters talk all the way through fight scenes with lame lines. McShane gets a reasonable amount of dialogue, but the Fearsome Five get maybe a dozen lines among them all -- some only getting one or two, none particularly memorable -- so I really cannot see the point of casting Angelina Jolie, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogan, Lucy Liu, and David Cross, not to mention tossing in Michael Clark Duncan in as a prison guard. There seems to be some weird desire here to pay homage to great action stars while also getting in some more recent cynical / ironic comedians but it hardly matters, since you will barely notice them. It does not detract from the movie; it just seems really pointless.