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Soundtrack review: Kung Fu Panda (John Powell and Hans Zimmer – 2008)

Composer of the month Hans Zimmer John Powell month

Soundtrack review: Kung Fu Panda (John Powell and Hans Zimmer – 2008)



“Kung Fu Panda” brought Hans Zimmer and one of his most frequent collaborators John Powell together. This review is part of “John Powell month”. This animation film is the story of a fat panda bear in ancient China who aspires to become a kung fu master.

“Kung Fu Panda” didn’t leave me with much once it was over. I was particularly unhappy with the 7 minutes long “Tai lung escapes”. This theme is dragging and uses generic electronics and percussion sounds. He Asian instrumentation is nice but generic as well in this score.

The longest track of this score though works. “Sacred pool of tears” clocks at 10 minutes and has enough enjoyable moments. I see it as a suite of the entire score and it would have been enough to listen to it. It has most of the beautiful moments from “Kung Fu Panda” in it. I was surprised when I heard “The bridge” because it was a change of tempo from the rest of the score: we got a proper and exciting action theme.

The rest of the action parts sounded too uneven. Take a cue like “The dragon scroll” for example: it sounds like a collection of sounds and motifs put together without making a proper, coherent theme. Each time I feel something might be building up it crumbles back down and changes mood.

With all its faults, I am sure “Kung Fu Panda” works in the context of the movie. As a standalone listen though it was a bit frustrating for me.

Cue rating: 70 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 5 / 58

Album excellence: 9 / 100


The bridge

Oogway ascends

Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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