Australian Council on Children and the Media

Kung Fu Panda

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Not recommended under 5, PG to 10 due to violence and scary scenes.

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Kung Fu Panda
  • a review of Kung Fu Panda completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 26 June 2008.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 5 Not recommended due to frequent violence and scary scenes.
Children aged 5-10 Parental guidance recommended due to violence and scary scenes.
Children over the age of 10 OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Kung Fu Panda
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Animated violence, Some scenes may frighten young children
Length 88 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

This movie follows the story of Po (voice of Jack Black), a Panda who works in his father’s noodle shop, but dreams of becoming a Kung Fu champion.  When Po learns that the village is hosting a tournament to nominate a Dragon Warrior, he makes his way to the Jade Palace to watch the festivities.  Unfortunately, Po’s journey is made slower by the noodle trolley his father insists he take along and he arrives just as the palace gates are closing.  After making several failed attempts to make it over the high palace walls, Po finally launches himself into the tournament arena with the aid of several firecrackers strapped to a chair.  After regaining consciousness, he discovers that the wise tortoise has selected him as the new Dragon Warrior, much to the surprise of Kung Fu Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) and his ‘Furious Five’ disciples (Angelina Jolie, Jackie Chan, Randall Duk Kim, David Cross, and Lucy Liu). 
Shortly afterwards, the evil snow-leopard Tai Lung escapes from the dungeon in which he is imprisoned and vows to wreak vengeance on Po and Shifu for preventing him from taking the mantle of Dragon Warrior himself.  Realising that the overweight and out-of-condition Po will be no match for Tai Lung, the Furious Five go into battle on his behalf.  Meanwhile, Master Shifu begins training Po and eventually shows him the ancient Dragon Scroll, whose message is believed to reveal the secret of the invincible warrior.  When the Furious Five come back defeated, Po bravely faces Tai Lung and a life-and-death battle ensues.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

None of concern

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is frequent violence in this movie, some of which may disturb children and some of which they may imitate:

  • Master Shifu often strikes Po harshly about the head and body with his bamboo rod.  Shifu and the members of the Furious Five fighting group also frequently strike and kick Po during training sessions.  Such violence is depicted in a cartoon-like way and realistic consequences are not shown.
  • Numerous episodes of animated fight sequences occur outside Kung Fu training sessions.  Fight scenes involve slapping, punching, kicking, tossing through ceilings and over roofs, strangulation and choking with a rope.  Again, realistic consequences of these actions are not depicted.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • Several scenes show the evil snow leopard Tai Lung snarling in a menacing way and flashing his fiery eyes.
  • Tai Lung escapes from the underground stone dungeon in which he has been imprisoned.  As he breaks the shackles and chains binding him, he growls menacingly at the prison guards, who become terrified and try to get away from him.
  • Towards the end of the film, there is a long fight sequence between Master Shifu and Tai Lung.  Children may become frightened when it becomes apparent that Master Shifu may die.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group may also be disturbed by the above-mentioned scenes.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Younger children in this age group may also be disturbed by scenes mentioned above.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this film.

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

None of concern

Nudity and sexual activity

None of concern

Use of substances

None of concern

Coarse language

None of concern

In a nutshell

Kung Fu Panda is a cleverly animated film that both children and adults will enjoy.  While there are numerous cartoon-like fight sequences, the story may stimulate some valuable discussions about loyalty and self-esteem.
The main message from this movie is that ordinary individuals can do extraordinary things if they believe in themselves.
Values that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • loyalty
  • self-esteem
  • commitment

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as the consequences of violent actions; and how to resolve conflict without violence or aggression.

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