DVD Reviews “Kung Fu Panda 1 & 2: Ultimate Edition of Awesomeness”

In order to celebrate this week’s release of “Kung Fu Panda 3” (which is amazing BTW), Dreamworks Animation is re-releasing the first two “Kung Fu Panda” films with over 80 minutes of new bonus content including an all-new 22 minute animated adventure, “Secret of the Scroll,” and an exclusive sneak peek of DreamWorks Animation Kung Fu Panda 3 as well as Digital HD copies of each film.

Official Premises: In DreamWorks’ Kung Fu Panda, Jack Black is perfect as the voice of Po, a noodle-slurping dreamer who must embrace his true self – fuzzy flaws and all – in order to become the Dragon Warrior. Black reprises his role as Po in Kung Fu Panda 2, the fiercely funny Academy Award-nominated sequel. In his biggest challenge since becoming the Dragon Warrior, Po must lead his friends and fellow kung fu masters, The Furious Five, on a mission of epic proportions to defeat his most threatening rival yet!

This franchise features an all-star voice cast including Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Dustin Hoffman, Gary Oldman, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu, David Cross, Michelle Yeoh, Danny McBride and Jean-Claude Van Damme. There is ZERO shortage of amazing talent in these films!

The special features included are a Martial Arts Awesomeness Music Video which features the best fight sequences in the beat of “Kung Fu Fighting”. “Mash-Up of Awesomeness: Slo-Mo” focuses the franchises more intense action scenes in slow-motion. There is a “Mash-Up of Blunders” which is basically a gag reel of Po’s most embarrassing moments. Lastly there is an all-new Kung Fu Panda 3 sneak peek with introduction by Jack Black rounding out the extras. If you have never purchased these films, might be a good time to pick them up!


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DVD Review “Kung Fu: The Legend Continues – The Complete First Season”

Starring: David Carradine, Chris Potter
Created by: Ed Spielman
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Distributed: Warner Archive
Release Date: May 27, 2014

Our Score: 2 out of 5 stars

“Kung Fu: The Legend Continues” is a spin-off of the 1972–1975 TV series “Kung Fu”. It ran from 1993-1997. I remember watching “Kung Fu as a kid and loving every single minute of it. Then I started watching the spin-off and I honestly just never got into it. It picks up after “Kung Fu: The Movie” with Kwai Chang Caine (David Carradine), grandson of the legendary hero of the Wild West, who teams up with his policeman son, Peter (Chris Potter), to tame the new Wild West – 90’s urban America. I guess it plays better if you are watching this in the 90’s, even though I wasn’t even thrilled then, but this show does not hold up today. If you are a hardcore fan, you may dig it otherwise it would have been better off getting lost in the wild west.

Official Premise: When we last saw Kwai Chang Caine, in “Kung Fu: the Movie”, he was united with the son he never knew he had in turn-of-the-century Wild West. Now, the son of that son, also named Kwai Chang Caine (David Carradine), must emerge from seclusion to save the son he thought lost. Like his legendary namesake, this Caine is also a warrior monk, operating a Shaolin temple in Northern California. After an evil priest, Tan (Ernest Abuba), destroys the temple, Caine and his young son, Peter (Nathaniel Moreau) each believe the other has perished. The two embark on very different paths ­ Caine wanders the Earth, while Peter (Chris Potter) becomes a cop. When fate brings the two together, they work to overcome their differing philosophies to battle Tan, and then help the innocent and bring justice to the new Wild West ­90’s urban America.

The best part of watching this show today is no question picking out all the guest stars from back in the day including Neve Campbell, Colm Feore, Katie Griffin, James Hong, Martin Kove, George Lazenby, Mako, Barry Morse, Sandra Oh, Regis Philbin, Mickey Rooney, John Schneider, Scott Speedman, Tara Strong, George Takei and of course Richard Carradine (Note these listed are throughout the whole series not just the first season). There are no special features included on this release, like most TV DVD series releases from Warner Archive. I assume that they are going to burn through the rest of this series mostly likely before the end of the year. So if you are a fan of this show, the next three seasons should be available soon so you can get all your 90’s cheesy goodness out.


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DVD Review “Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness – The Scorpion Sting”

Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: DreamWorks Animation
DVD Release Date: October 15, 2013
Run Time: 154 minutes

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

There is something about “Kung Fu Panda” that you can’t help be love. I am a huge fan of the two movies and I have been loving the TV series as well “Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness”. “The Scorpion Sting” is the latest DVD collection of episodes from this series and it is jam-packed with action, comedy and a whole lotta Po, who is everyone favorite Panda. If you love “Kung Fu Panda”, then you are going to love this show for sure! Even my 16 month old daughter loves this show and walks around with her plush doll screaming “Po”, so I think they are on to something here!

Get ready for more high-kicking action and fur-flying fun in this awesome animated TV series based on the Academy Award-Nominated hit movie Kung Fu Panda*! He may not be your typical warrior, but Po packs an arsenal of martial arts skills as big as his heart…and his stomach. Always ready to fight for what’s right, Po and the Furious Five—Tigress, Monkey, Mantis, Crane and Viper—face exotic dangers at every turn, including a pair of magic shoes with an evil “sole,” and Scorpion, one of the sharpest villains in all the land!

This DVD contains over two hours of episodes including the following: “Scorpion’s Sting”, “Crane On A Wire”, “Love Stings”, “Kung Shoes”, “Owl Be Back”, “Qilin Time”, “Monkey in the Middle”. I also recently received a DVD volume for the show “Monsters vs. Aliens” and that also included a Digital copy download for each of the episode, I am surprised that this one did not since it would be a great added feature for sure. Also included though as a bonus is the “Kung Fu Panda: Scorpion Maze” App, which is available for download on iOS and Android devices. It is a fast-paced and addictive arcade-style game and ton of fun. If you enjoyed DVD, this you will be excited to find that that in Spring 2014 the next DVD is being released called, “The Midnight Stranger”. Keep ’em coming!

Jason Brubaker talks about his graphic novel “reMIND” and “Kung Fu Panda 3”

Jason Brubaker is a visual development artist at Dreamworks Animation. He spends his free time though making graphic. In fact, he, at the time, had the highest funded graphic novel at more than $95,000 called “reMIND” and “reMIND, Vol.2”. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Jason about his graphic novels and his work on the upcoming “Kung Fu Panda 3“.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about the origin of “reMIND”?
Jason Brubaker: That’s a long story. It started out as a song that my friend and I wrote about a cat that would always come and hang out at our apartment all day. The song spawned ideas of a music video which I storyboarded. At the time my job was a storyboard artist so that was just how I thought. I storyboarded a rough concept of a cat building a robot suit and teleporting to an underwater Lizard world to fight a Lizard King with a toaster. Yeah, it’s weird but I really wanted to learn to animate so I thought this would be a good place to start. Years later after spending all my free time animating clips for this music video about a cat, I started getting animation jobs. The project was never going to get finished because every time I saw dramatic improvement in my animation ability I would reanimate entire scenes and it became a mess. At the end of 8 years I only had about 3 minutes of animation that I liked and a story that had no ending. Eventually I scrapped the idea to make a graphic novel. I pretty much just started from scratch and threw out years of stuff that just didn’t work but the design of Victuals, the robot suit and the lighthouse were pretty much untouched. I figured out a complete story to tell and the characters finally clicked into place.

MG: Tell us about some of your major influences for these graphic novels?
JB: Victuals was loosely based on the cat that would wonder into our apartment long ago and Sonja was loosely based on my wife. I’m not sure either look or act like my characters though. So I guess you could say they are VERY loosely based on them. I’ve always loved stories with really strong female characters much like Miyazaki’s work and I was hoping to get that same sort of feeling that Miyazaki’s movies always give me. Chris Bachalo (more of his old stuff), Joshua Middleton and Christian Schellewald are the big influences right now.

MG: Are you surprised by success of Kickstarter?
JB: Yes, very much. In fact I still don’t understand how it made as much money as it did.

MG: What was your biggest challenge with “reMind Vol.2” compared to the 1st volume?
JB: The biggest challenge with Volume 2 was just sitting down to put in the work. I was so busy fulfilling orders and keeping up the online hype for the first book that I didn’t have time to make any progress on the second one. Eventually I had to just lock myself into a room and turn off all communication in order to get it finished in a reasonable amount of time.

MG: Take us through your day to day work with Dreamworks Animation; what are you currently working on with them?
JB: At Dreamworks, I’m working on “Kung Fu Panda 3” as a Visual Development Artist. I pretty much just paint pictures all day on the computer in Photoshop. Sometimes I need to make a 3D model so everyone can look at a set from any angle they want to decide what will work best. Sometimes I have to paint “color keys” and sometimes I just create simple props. It’s a pretty fun job because I get to work on many visual aspects of a large production.

MG: Tell us what you have planned next after “reMind”?
JB: Honestly, up until a few months ago I would have told you about my big comic plans for the future but at this time in my life I don’t really know what is going to be next. I might take a break from starting a new comic because I have a few other ideas that I feel are important to me now. But for the time I’ll just have to keep it vague.


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DVD Review “Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness – Good Croc, Bad Croc”

Actors: Mick Wingert, Fred Tatasciore, Kari Wahlgren, Max Koch, Amir Talai
Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Studio: 20th Century Fox
DVD Release Date: June 18, 2013
Run Time: 154 minutes

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

“Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness” is a spin-off animated series in the “Kung Fu Panda” franchise and takes place between the two films. Mike Wingert has done a great job stealing Jack Black’s voice to give life to Po. Lucy Lu and James Hong are the only cast returning from the series. I have to admit since this series started airing in 2011, I am surprised that it took so long to start releasing these episodes on DVD. This show would have benefited so much more from a Blu-ray transfer with its great animation and colorful episodes. This show doesn’t have the same charm of the films but it is still action-packed, funny and clever. So kids (and most adults) should have a blast with these episodes.

Official Premise: Brace yourself for awesome action and legendary laughs in this fun-filled animated TV series based on the Academy Awardr-Nominated hit movie Kung Fu Panda! As the chosen Dragon Warrior and sworn protector of the Valley of Peace, Po the panda is highly skilled, ever vigilant and hungry for justice…and dumplings. Together with the Furious Five – Tigress, Monkey, Mantis, Crane and Viper – Po must fend off fierce villains, including an evil version of himself (courtesy of the Mystical Mirror of Yin and Yang) and the toothy Croc Bandits!

There are seven episodes included out of over fifty episodes that has aired to date, but that still adds to nearly three hours of kung-fu action packed adventures.  The episodes included are “Good Croc, Bad Croc”, episodes 6; “The Princess and the Po”, episode 2; “Chain Reaction. episode 4; “Bad Po”, episode 10; “Jailhouse Panda”, episode 8; “Father Crime”, episode 25; “Po Fans Out”, episode 18. This is a nice sample of the show’s first season but I still would rather get a complete season one DVD release. There are no additional special features included amongst these episodes. Though, in the case there is a code included to unlock power-ups, exclusive downloads and more on the all-new online game “Croc Crackdown” on Nick’s website. If you want more you will happy to know that the included pamphlet advertises “The Scorpion Sting”  DVD release and more are coming soon.

Blu-ray Review “Kung Fu Panda Holiday Special”

Directed by: Tim Johnson
Starring: Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, David Cross, Lucy Liu, James Hong
Jack McBrayer, Dan Fogler
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: Dreamworks Animated
Release Date: November 6, 2012
Run Time: 25 minutes

Film: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

Firstly, I am stumped that this short was not included on “Dreamworks Holiday Classics” release. As a stand-alone release, I really think that it is a toss-up to purchase unless you are a really hardcore “Kung Fu Panda” fan. What is good about this short though is that it brings back ALL of the original voice cast. It also doesn’t specifically focus on Christmas, it keeps it on a generic holiday angle so it is available to a more wide-audience. When it comes down to it though, this is a fun short for the whole family that will make you smile and get in the mood for the holiday season!

Official Premise: In this hilarious action adventure, Master Shifu calls on Po to host the year’s biggest event – the Winter Feast, a special time of the year to celebrate family, tradition and the awesomeness of Kung Fu! Po and the Furious Five must team up to throw the best celebration the Valley of Peace has ever seen. Can Po pull off the perfect party, impress his heroes, and discover the true meaning of the Winter Feast?

“Kung Fu Panda Holiday Special” looks stunning on Blu-ray in its super sharp 1080p transfer. It also packs a really impressive Dolby TrueHD 7.1 surround track. Dreamworks did not cheap out on this at all. The special features are aimed at kids and are decent. There are various interactive features including “Learn to Draw Wo Hop”, “Kung Fu Panda Holiday Shuffle”, “Mr. Ping’s Noodle House” and “How to Use Chopticks”. I was hoping for a little more since this release just includes the 25 minute short but like I said decent overall.