A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Adventures of Panda Warrior is an animated movie that is filled with humorous cartoon creatures of all shapes and sizes engaging in armed battles, hand-to-hand (or paw-to-paw) combat, and magic spells, and they use a variety of weaponry (swords, sticks, spears, mind control, martial arts). It's a quest movie, centered on Patrick, an ancient human warrior transformed into a panda as he attempts to rid a fantastical world of an evil master in the form of a nine-headed snake. The obstacles that Patrick and his team encounter are often more frightening than funny (for example, a tarantula, the malevolent snake). While the bright colors and comic characters appear to be directed at young kids, the scary visuals, recurrent jeopardy, and spooky music make it appropriate only for those who clearly understand the difference between real and pretend violence.
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What's the story?
Patrick (Rob Schneider) lives in a war-loving society in THE ADVENTURES OF PANDA WARRIOR. The peace-loving young man simply doesn't want to join the fight; he's hungering for peace and harmony. When he's suddenly transformed into a panda and finds himself in an idyllic, brightly colored world filled with quirky creatures from the animal kingdom, Patrick believes his beloved grandfather's tale of the magical Merryland is real -- that is, until he finds out that even Merryland is in a state of fear and chaos ruled by the Evil Master, a nine-headed snake. It's said among the beleaguered citizens that only the legendary Panda Warrior can save Merryland from the powerful villain. Could Patrick be that legendary warrior? Finding his courage, his skills, and new purpose, Patrick joins the Rebellion, an army of bizarre but brave beings intent upon liberating their land.
Is it any good?
With routine animation, a conventional pursuit, and a reliance on one altercation after another to move the story, there's little to recommend in this copycat martial arts panda story. There are some cute characters in The Adventures of Panda Warrior (a mantis with an excess of bravado and a battalion of desperate onions), but one begins to lose track of them in the wake of dozens of other not-so-adorable participants in the relentless scuffles. The writing and some performances are weak, as well. Although the film is intended for kids, the action sequences are more violent than one would expect, including flamethrowers, death by spears, mind control, and a really sinister, humorless villain. The film was made in China and adapted for English-speaking audiences, so the distributors of this DVD may be hoping to take advantage of the popularity of Dreamworks' Kung Fu Panda series. Hopefully, parents will not be confused, as this mediocre effort pales in comparison with the adventures of Jack Black's delightful Kung Fu hero.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the violence in The Adventures of Panda Warrior. From the opening sequence in which a warrior is killed by a spear, what is the tone the filmmakers have set for the action? Is it funny or threatening?
At the film's end, did you think that Patrick was going to remain a panda? Or would he return to his own land? Do you think the filmmakers did a good job of tying up all the story threads? Why, or why not?
There were many unusual creatures in this movie (the onions, Manny the Mantis). Draw and/or write about a character that might live in Merryland. What special talents would he or she have? What would he or she look like? How would your creation help the rebellion?
- On DVD or streaming: August 2, 2016
- Cast: Rob Schneider, Lauren Elizabeth, Norm MacDonald
- Director: Leo Lo
- Studio: Lionsgate
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts, Adventures, Misfits and Underdogs, Wild Animals
- Run time: 78 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: action, violence, and some mild rude humor
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.