Kung Fu Panda 3

Composed By: Hans Zimmer

Distributed by: Sony Classical

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


                In the third installment of the animated martial arts comedy franchise from DreamWorks, Po (Jack Black) finds himself no longer the student, but the teacher.  Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) has retired, leaving Po in the unlikely role as sensei.  Unfortunately, teaching kung fu is just as hard as learning it.  So who needs the added distraction of the return of Po's long lost father (Bryan Cranston) and an attack of the Valley of Peace by spirit warrior and collector Kai (J.K. Simmons).  Can Po survive a confrontation with such a mighty foe?

                Having composed the music for the first two Kung Fu Panda films, it should come as no surprise that Hans Zimmer would return to compose the music for Kung Fu Panda 3.  A much sought after composer, Hans Zimmer has created the musical score of over 120 films, earning an Academy Award, two Golden Globes, three Grammys, an American Music Award and a Tony Award.  Film credits include The Lion King, Madagascar, Thelma & Louise, Pearl Harbor, The Pirates of the Caribbean films, The Da Vinci Code, Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice and more.

                There is a certain beauty to some of the music found on the Kung Fu Panda 3 Soundtrack, particularly in the track Oogway's Legacy, which features performances by Chinese pianist Lang Lang and Chinese cellist Jian Wang.  I loved the use of the ehru, a Chinese violin adding authenticity to the locale of the film.  Of course, in addition to the grand orchestral tracks, there are some bits and pieces of comedy thrown in - after all, this is a comedy film and Po is a tad bit clumsy in the ways of life and martial arts.  But mainly, this is an action film with a martial arts theme and Hans Zimmer has put together a score that reflects the action and artistry that come into play in such films.

                If you pay attention, you will also note bits and pieces of Kung Fu Fighting mixed in here and there throughout the soundtrack.  The full song appears twice on the soundtrack: once in its original format by The Vamps and a second time in a remixed version performed by Metro Voices London and Shanghai Roxi Musical Studio Choirs.  Another original song, Try by Jay Chou and Patrick Brasca, discusses the main theme of the film.  As Po tries to discover what it takes to be a teacher of Kung Fu, he realizes that his master's admonition regarding being himself is the best advise he has ever received.  Only in being true to who he is and trying his best will Po achieve the greatness he seeks.

                I loved the traditional Chinese music found on the Kung Fu Panda 3 Soundtrack in addition to the various action and comedy cues.  I have always found traditional Chinese music to be quite beautiful and never tire of the intricacy of the musical pieces.  The music found on this album is just as beautiful and well worth the listen, especially when you realize that much of it is performed by such prodigies as Lang Lang and Jian Wang.  Even if you never see the film, the Kung Fu Panda 3 Soundtrack is a must listen for any fan of musical composition.


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