Now that I’ve talked about the Kung Fu Panda 3 trailer released in China, now it’s time to look at the English trailer released in North America. And boy, there is a strong contrast between both trailers.
As with the teasers for the previous films, this one opens with an image of a beautiful setting. Actually, the second movie begins with Po stepping forward and flexing his muscles, but he does so behind a surprisingly inviting cave. In this case, it’s the Jade Palace in all its glory. And then Crane comes soaring down the castle and in front of the camera. I noticed this scene is on both trailers. I suppose the reason is because it looks good. Or is Crane racing against time for something important? We’ll have to wait until January 26 to find out.
Also in the previous teasers is the baritone narrator with an epic sounding speech about how epic the hero is. Of course, it leads to a comedic moment that undermines the epicness of the speech. I don’t know about the rest of you, but this narration comes off as dated. Every time a trailer uses this voice, it’s always starts off with some dramatic reading to make the film sound action packed. And then slapstick or a one liner occurs to make you realize it’s a comedy. This technique is used so many times it’s become predictable. It’s worst when the movie’s a sequel because most people already know it’s a comedy. Has this voice ever been used in a trailer for a serious movie?
And then we get an action packed scene of Po and the Furious Five going through an obstacle course to deliver a cup of tea to Master Shifu. Each character gets to shine, including Crane flying across the training room with Mantis holding the cup, Monkey leaping through a row of swinging pendulums and Viper slithering past a shitload of incoming arrows. But the real standout is Tigress. First of all, she looks great with her yellow jacket. Second of all, she looks totally badass when she punches and kicks obstacles with ease. I would be interested in seeing someone do a cosplay of Tigress with that outfit (and maybe Po with his cape and hat.)
Po himself has come a long way since he was first named dragon warrior. In the first movie, the obstacle course had no problem slapping Po around. Now he leaps through the course with effortless ease, even going through a small hole. He’s especially impressive balancing himself atop a row of spears while serving the tea to Shifu. I would give Po extra points for being the only one with the sense to put the saucer over the cup to keep it from spilling. Why didn’t the others try this?
And then we get to the moment Kung Fu Panda fans have been waiting; Po’s reunion with his biological father. Ever since Kung Fu Panda 2 ended with the revelation of Po’s father being alive and living in a Panda refuge, everyone predicted the next film would focus on the Po’s reconnecting with his estranged Pop and the rest of the Panda community. And judging by the synopsis, they were right.
The teaser introduces Po’s father with a mouth full of bean buns in an obvious bet, a throwback to Po doing the same thing in the last movie. With the dignified voice of Brian Cranston, the panda identifies himself as Li Shen and states he’s looking for his son. In contrast to Hiccups’ reunion with his mother in How to Train Your Dragon 2, neither panda consider that the other might be their long lost loved one. In a comedic twist to aforementioned earlier reunion, the residents (and the audience) have already figured it out and are waiting in anticipation for the two to figure it out. I especially love the reactions of the pigs and bunnies, who practically want to scream “Are you kidding me?”
This brings up a question; why isn’t this spiritual force telling him this panda right in front of him is his son. It does also bring up the question of why these spiritual forces wait all these years to tell him. Albeit, you could theorize it was waiting for Lord Shen to be destroyed. But still, he defeated now. Why isn’t it still working.
Throughout this scene, AC/DC’s “Back in Black” played in the background. That song feels completely out of place in this movie, especially when it doesn’t really fit with a scene. It’s belongs in a Megamind movie, not a Kung Fu Panda trailer.
I also notice that teasers for DreamWorks animation teasers tend to center around one scene. There are exceptions, but for the most part, the teaser will focus on one particular scene. Shrek 2’s teaser was the scene where Shrek and Fiona meet Fiona’s parents. Megamind’s teaser was Megamind taking over city hall. Even How to Train Your Dragon 2’s teaser was a simple scene of Hiccup and Toothless flying through the air. And the Kung Fu Panda trailers honored this tradition. The first teaser was Po hitting the punching bag. The second teaser as the “Kung Fu Staring contest”. And here it’s the reunion.
Why are the teasers so different? I can’t really say. I doubt I understand China’s cinematic culture enough to explain the contrast. And the Kung Fu Panda trailers have always focused on the comedy. But then again, How to Train Your Dragon 2 did have comedy, but the trailers managed to combine the comedy with a dramatic suspense and adventurous wonder. I’d prefer to wait for the theatrical trailer to see where they go with this.
That being said, I think releasing both trailers was a brilliant marketing decision on DreamWorks part. With the Chinese trailer leaked, they could both showcase the dazzling imagery and add more anticipation of the English trailer. And when the American trailer is released, fans will now get the comedic side of the movie. Now fans are given all sides of the same movie.
Well, that’s all I have to say. I’m surprised how long my writing would turn out to be. We can only wait in due time until the release of the film.
 Which are few days before my birthday. Thanks DreamWorks!
 Though KFP cosplays are usually reserved for Lord Shen.