The Amazing Panda Adventure Movie Poster Image

The Amazing Panda Adventure

Adorable real pandas but otherwise sappy animal adventure.
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 1995
  • Running Time: 91 minutes

What parents need to know

Educational value

Kids learn about the importance of saving endangered species like giant pandas and about the folklore surrounding the pandas.

Positive messages

Positive messages include the idea that fathers love sons unconditionally, even if they have to work a lot; the environmental lesson that there are animals nearing extinction and it's our collective duty to help save them; and that even young kids can make a big difference.

Positive role models

Ryan and Ling are brave kids who sacrifice their well-being to save the panda cub.

Violence & scariness

In several scenes, the poachers look menacingly at the nature preserve workers. They skulk around with guns and scowls and cage a mother panda. They then kidnap a panda cub. The two kids fall in the river and down a waterfall a few times, but each time they manage to escape scratch-free. The poachers find the kids and panda and try to catch them, but the kids evade them thanks to sympathetic villagers.

Sexy stuff

Ling and Ryan flirt with each other and in one scene end up having to strip down to their underwear to get leeches off of their bodies. They then hide from each other, and Tyler makes a joke about how he's seen "naked girls" before on cable TV, so she shouldn't worry about him peeking.


Insults like "stupid," "dimwit," "idiot," and "shut up."


Brief references to the show American Gladiators and to Twinkies.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this live-action animal adventure, which follows a young American boy who ends up saving a panda cub, features some mild peril and threatening villians. The 10-year-old protagonist and his friend, a Chinese girl, face realistic panda poachers on several occasions and plummet dangerously into a river, as well as evade gun-wielding criminals as they attempt to travel back to safety. Kids will learn about pandas, Chinese folklore, and the unconditional nature of father-son relationships.

What's the story?

American tween Ryan (Ryan Slater) spends his spring break visiting his workaholic zoologist father, Michael (Stephen Lang), in China, where he runs a nature preserve for giant pandas. To save the preserve from being shut down by the government, Michael and his colleagues must show that they're caring for at least one cub, but the only cub they've spotted is captured by poachers. Trying to prove himself worthy, Ryan and his father's young Chinese translator, Ling (Yi Ding), end up rescuing the cub, whom they eventually name Johnnie. They overcome several obstacles -- including falls in a river and close calls with the poachers -- to find their way back to the preserve with the baby panda.

Is it any good?


Probably the best thing about this movie is the pandas themselves. Through a combination of footage of real pandas and animatronic animals, the black-and-white animals steal the show from their live-action co-stars. The animals easily outshine the humans, especially the kids, who are alternately funny and overly precious (the scene where they both disrobe after being covered with leeches is also just bizarre and unnecessary). It's odd to see Lang, who's now best known as the crazy colonel in Avatar, 15 years younger and playing a father. He does his best to explain the importance of saving the pandas, but the movie ultimately rests on the shoulders of the two child actors.

Animal adventures, especially those featuring baby animals, are sure to tug at the heartstrings, and this one has the added drama of a dangerous crew of poachers trying to track down the kids and the panda cub. But the story feels a bit slow at times, especially when it comes down to the kids, who interact rather awkwardly with each other, even as they're supposed to grow into great friends. The action sequences, however, will intrigue children, and the pandas will draw in animal-loving audiences.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the movie's message about endangered animals. What can all of us do to help ensure the safety of animals like the giant panda? How does the movie make the plight of the panda sympathetic?

  • What do you think about the choices that Ryan and Ling make to save the panda? Are they realistic? Would you have done something similar?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:August 25, 1995
DVD/Streaming release date:September 2, 2002
Cast:Ryan Slater, Stephen Lang, Yi Ding
Director:Christopher Cain
Studio:Warner Home Video
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Adventures, Wild animals
Run time:91 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:adventure action and brief mild language

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What parents and kids say

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Educator and Parent Written byLFC April 21, 2013

Basically good but not always believable

Some beautiful scenery and basically a good story, but the dialogue and acting were less than believable at times. The pandas were the best part. Overall, not a waste of time, but not carefully designed in terms of realistic story details, including emotional relationships and escape and rescue sequences.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much consumerism
Parent Written bymomkir November 9, 2014

Captivating movie for family movie night

We almost did not watch this movie as the reviews didn't sound great, but I am glad we did. I think it's difficult to find live action movies that are appropriate and entertaining for all ages, and this is definitely a good one. If you don't like animals - particularly baby pandas - perhaps you wouldn't enjoy it as the baby panda is the star. The scenery is beautiful and it gave a realistic view of life in rural China and the plight of endangered animals. I don't agree with the "sappy" description. It has a happy ending - but don't we expect that from a movie designed for kids? I also liked that the two child actors looked more like real kids instead of Hollywood perfection.
Parent of a 8 year old Written bysubhash_vs December 6, 2014
What other families should know
Great messages