Meet the returning and new cast of action-packed animation ‘Kung Fu Panda 3’

One of the most successful animated franchises in the world returns with its biggest comedy adventure yet, “Kung Fu Panda 3” that will open March 9 nationwide (2D, 3D and IMAX 3D screens). The film marks the return of the plump black-and-white bear who has only one aspiration – to become an expert in a martial art that requires agility, mental prowess and lightning-fast reflexes. It was a formidable, if not impossible quest. But then Po doesn’t know the word “impossible.” He’s always striving to be the best he can be…to be his own hero.

As Po attempts to instruct his idols – Tigress, Monkey, Viper, Crane and Mantis – in the finer points of kung fu, chaos reigns in the Training Hall, a place of discipline, honor and sacred practice. Po’s cluelessness as a teacher reminds us of the character we met and fell and love with in KUNG FU PANDA.

Before heading on to watch the most anticipated family outing of the year, let’s review and meet returning and new characters and cast in “Kung Fu Panda 3.”

PO (Jack Black)
Plucked from his duties as the apprentice noodle maker at his dad’s shop, Po is now the legendary Dragon Warrior, and he’s already saved the world a few times. But despite all the adulation, Po is the same humble panda.

SHIFU (Dustin Hoffman)
Kung Fu master Shifu is very good at his job as trainer to the “best of the best” Kung Fu warriors in all of China. He’s a strict, difficult to please teacher who pushes his students ever harder to achieve the achievement of unachievable perfection.

OOGWAY (Randall Duk Kim)
This warrior and spiritual leader of the Valley of Peace dedicated his life to protecting the small and vulnerable. Though he has moved on from our realm, he has left his Kung Fu legacy in the trusted hands of Shifu, Po and The Five.

TIGRESS (Angelina Jolie Pitt)
Master Tigress is the strongest and boldest of the Furious Five. But underneath her stoic, iron-jawed (and iron-hand, and iron-feet, pretty much iron-everything) exterior is a warm compassion that others seldom see.

VIPER (Lucy Liu)
Master Viper is the “mother hen” of the group. But don’t let her gentle nature fool you. Viper is a lightning fast warrior capable of taking down the most intimidating foe.

MONKEY (Jackie Chan)
Mischievous, playful and enthusiastic, Master Monkey likes a good joke, but his easy-going attitude masks cunning martial arts ability. Monkey is an unpredictable prankster who is as fierce as he is clever and funny.

CRANE (David Cross)
Master Crane is the pragmatist of the group. He’ll try to avoid a fight if at all possible, but if he can’t avoid it, Crane will do everything he can to win it.

MANTIS (Seth Rogen)
Master Mantis may be the smallest of the Five, but he’d never admit it. The little guy has a textbook Napoleon complex: strong, fast and tiny, he possesses a mean temper and is ready to “throw down” at the slightest insult.

MR. PING (James Hong)
Mr. Ping may have lost his best, and only, employee to kung fu greatness, but he couldn’t be more proud of his panda son, Po. Like any parent left at home, Mr. Ping worries about being forgotten.

LI (Bryan Cranston)
Think about who Po would be if the discipline of Kung Fu had never entered his life – and that’s Li. Po’s old man is a loud exuberant party loving panda always out for a good time, whether that’s eating and napping or napping and eating.

MEI MEI (Kate Hudson)
In a village of easy going pandas who would literally rather roll than walk, Mei Mei stands out as a rare, results-oriented panda. Once she sets her mind on something, she’ll get it no matter what.

KAI (J.K. Simmons)
Long ago, the fearsome and power-hungry warrior Kai found a way to take chi from others, until he was banished to the Spirit Realm for all eternity. Now, Kai has returned to earth, where his appetite for power and revenge leads to an incredible showdown and battle with Po.

Rudyard Kipling’s ‘The Jungle Book’ to touch new generation in new Disney film

Disney’s “The Jungle Book” is an all-new live-action epic adventure about Mowgli, a man-cub who’s been raised by a family of wolves. But Mowgli finds he is no longer welcome in the jungle when fearsome tiger Shere Khan, who bears the scars of Man, promises to eliminate what he sees as a threat. Urged to abandon the only home he’s ever known, Mowgli embarks on a captivating journey of self-discovery, guided by panther-turned-stern mentor Bagheera, and the free-spirited bear Baloo. Along the way, Mowgli encounters jungle creatures who don’t exactly have his best interests at heart, including Kaa, a python whose seductive voice and gaze hypnotizes the man-cub, and the smooth-talking King Louie, who tries to coerce Mowgli into giving up the secret to the elusive and deadly red flower: fire.

Based on Rudyard Kipling’s timeless stories, “The Jungle Book” is inspired by Disney’s classic animated film, with an approach all its own. “We embrace the mythic qualities of Kipling in the more intense tonal aspects of the film,” says director Jon Favreau,“but we left room for what we remember from the ’67 film, and sought to maintain those charming Disneyesque aspects.”

“Kipling’s stories follow Joseph Campbell’s ‘hero with a thousand faces’ view of mythic storytelling,” adds Favreau. “You have the rise of the hero—a young boy coming of age in the jungle in this environment with all of these archetypal characters. As a filmmaker I find this as very fertile soil.”

Kipling’s stories have been adapted several times in the 12 decades that followed their publication. Directed by Wolfgang Reitherman, Walt Disney Animation Studios’ animated movie, “The Jungle Book,” was overhauled when Walt Disney felt that early drafts, which retained the darker tone of Kipling’s stories, were too serious. Released on Oct. 18, 1967, a year after Disney’s death, the film became a beloved classic. With iconic songs like Terry Gilkyson’s “The Bare Necessities” and the Sherman Brothers’ “I Wanna Be Like You,” the film’s soundtrack still inspires instantaneous humming and toe-tapping today. Disney’s “The Jungle Book” was released theatrically two more times, as well as in-home video, DVD and Blu-ray releases, earning fans across generations and rooting Mowgli and his animal friends and foes in hearts around the world.

“The bond between Mowgli and Baloo made a very strong impression on me as a kid,” says Favreau. “It reminded me of my own relationship with my grandfather, who was a big part of my life. I really like that Mowgli is rambunctious, always getting into trouble. He isn’t the standard well-behaved kid, but a bit precocious—a ‘Dennis the Menace’ type. He isn’t intimidated by these big wild animals, in fact, he’s completely at home among them. He’s a tough kid but also very vulnerable emotionally, especially with Baloo.

“There was a fun quality to Disney’s classic animated version of ‘The Jungle Book,’” continues Favreau. “I loved the music and I remember having vivid dreams about the characters. The scenes that made a big visual impression on me—that I am carrying over to this version of film—are images of Mowgli going down the river on the belly of Baloo, the python Kaa with its hypnotic eyes, and the majesty of those elephants marching by.”

The wild adventure swings into Philippine theaters in 3D on April 6, 2016. “The Jungle Book” is distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures through Columbia Pictures.

Follow the official social media accounts of Disney in the Philippines, namely, (FB) WaltDisneyStudiosPH, (Twitter) @disneystudiosph and (Instagram) @waltdisneystudiosph and use the hashtag #JungleBookPH.