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Section Header
Kung Fu Panda 2
Composed and Produced by:
Hans Zimmer
John Powell

Additional Music by:
Lorne Balfe
Dominic Lewis
Paul Mounsey

Conducted by:
Gavin Greenaway

Orchestrated by:
John Ashton Thomas
Dave Metzger
Rick Giovinazzo
Andrew Kinney
Gavin Greenaway
Tommy Laurence
Germaine Franco

Varèse Sarabande

Release Date:
May 24th, 2011

Also See:
Kung Fu Panda

Audio Clips:
5. Save Kung Fu (0:30):
WMA (202K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

8. Gongmen Jail (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

15. Zen Ball Master (0:29):
WMA (191K)  MP3 (239K)
Real Audio (168K)

16. My Fist Hungers For Justice (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

Regular U.S. release.


Kung Fu Panda 2
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Buy it... if you're any fan of Hans Zimmer and John Powell's score for the original film, for the same general sound and lovable themes are streamlined into a more palatable package for the sequel.

Avoid it... if no amount of additional choral drama and partial removal of the comedic funk elements can salvage this incessantly cute and ethnically saturated franchise sound for your cynical ears.

Kung Fu Panda 2: (Hans Zimmer/John Powell) Just a few decades ago, when a movie was a monumental fiscal success, studios would labor over the idea of a possible sequel for a while. After 2008's Kung Fu Panda was nominated in the top animation categories at the Golden Globes and Academy Awards and grossed more than half a billion dollars than it cost to make, however, Dreamworks Animation head Jeffrey Katzenberg announced that the concept would yield five additional motion picture sequels after a daytime cartoon on Nickelodeon, an NBC holiday special, multiple video and web games, and even a manga. Its plot comically showed anthropomorphic animals saving the Valley of Peace in ancient China by using legendary kung fu warrior techniques. The lovable and clumsy Po the Panda is the unexpected savior of the land when he achieves master kung fu status, and in the sequel he is challenged by a new villain and revelations about his past. The bulk of the vocal cast and crew from the first film returns for Kung Fu Panda 2 in 2011 under the new direction of Jennifer Yuh Nelson, a furious marketing campaign and new array of video games promoting the franchise once again. The previous film had originally been a solo assignment for popular composer Hans Zimmer, and much was made of his visit to the Chinese National Symphony as a reported method of research for the assignment. Ultimately, Zimmer's close friend and associate John Powell was hired to assist him in completing the music for Kung Fu Panda, representing the first time in eight hears that the men had worked together formally on a film. While Zimmer had contributed to his fame with major animation scores in the 1990's, Powell had become the industry leader in the genre over the latter half of the 2000's, culminating in the very highly acclaimed How to Train Your Dragon in 2010. Since that score, Powell had already squeezed in genre music for Mars Needs Moms and Rio before the release of Kung Fu Panda 2 teamed him another time with Zimmer.

As usual, without specific cue sheet attribution it's impossible to know exactly who wrote what in a score like Kung Fu Panda 2, with three familiar ghostwriters from the Remote Control domain replacing the two who had provided additional music to the previous entry in the franchise. That said, one of the comforting aspects of the Kung Fu Panda score was that its split of duties was relatively easy to hear in the result. Zimmer's broad, melodramatic strokes of deep melody were often contrasted by the hyperactive zaniness of Powell's far more frantic mannerisms. To an extent, the divide between the styles of Zimmer and Powell can also be heard in Kung Fu Panda 2, though the overall result is arguably better integrated for listeners who can tolerate the vast shifts in direction inherent in scores of this kind. In many ways, the sequel score is simply an hour-plus extension of the music from Kung Fu Panda, almost all of the elements from the prior work developed throughout the next entry. Perhaps because of Powell's influence, the tone of Zimmer's orchestra is more organically dynamic than in a score like Megamind, the Chinese elements (led by erhu and regional percussion) again setting the music apart from the composers' similar efforts. The shifts into 1970's Lalo Schifrin funk return as well, at times (as in the rowdy "Zen Ball Master") straying closer to David Arnold's more recent James Bond territory. Sudden infusions of Powell's frenetic rhythmic material also inhabit the comedy sequences, offset again by Zimmer's smoother dramatic tendencies, the two halves not quite at battle as they were in Kung Fu Panda. The two most memorable themes from the predecessor return early and often as well. The pastoral theme of culture, representing ancient China and the warrior way, is the most immediate reminder, expressed without delay in "Ancient China/Story of Shen" and "Dumpling Warrior." The theme's many erhu performances are quite lovely, highlighted by the mid-section of "My Fist Hungers for Justice." The choral and percussive backed statements of this idea in the latter half of the score are not to be missed.

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Slower to develop is the cute, bouncing theme for Po himself, heard only in fragmentary references on woodwinds in the first ten minutes but finally developing in "Save Kung Fu" and thereafter. By "Zen Ball Master," the theme is not only in full force but is also in heightened collaboration with the regional theme. Because of the plot, Po's theme isn't expressed in as many Mickey Mousey performances, though in "Stealth Mode" it does resort to silliness and in "More Cannons!," it is unleashed with full Powell pizzazz. A new sinister theme for the villain occupies growling bass woodwinds in "Fireworks Factory" and "Invasion Begins," among others. In general, Zimmer and Powell concentrate the lesser amount of outward comedy cues in this score to the trio of "Stealth Mode," "Gongmen Jail," and "Rickshaw Chase" in the middle third, and this is one of the major differences between the two franchise scores to date. The role of the choir is also enhanced, providing some inspiring moments of awe in Kung Fu Panda 2. Also like the first score's album presentation, there is a lamentable vocal and electronic track at the end; "Dumpling Warrior Remix" is so unlistenable that it would probably be rejected from even a children's show as insufferable as Yo Gabba Gabba. Otherwise, Kung Fu Panda 2 is, despite still requiring some programming to filter out the silly comedy and chase cues (be careful about the thunderous explosion mimicking a cannon to shred a quiet sequence at 1:00 into "Po Finds the Truth"), a more consistent listening experience than the original, with the ethnic elements toned back slightly, interludes of funk less frequent, the choral mixes a satisfying emphasis instead, and compelling continued development of existing themes. The redemptive conclusions of "Po Finds the Truth" and "My Fist Hungers for Justice" both feature full ensemble statements of the regional theme with choral and percussive accompaniment that will give chills to Zimmer and Powell enthusiasts. Those fans have often considered Kung Fu Panda to exceed its three-star rating at Filmtracks, and with the aforementioned improvements to its sound, Kung Fu Panda 2 successfully transcends to achieve that fourth star. **** Price Hunt: CD or Download

Bias Check:For Hans Zimmer reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 2.98 (in 89 reviews)
and the average viewer rating is 3 (in 266,330 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.

For John Powell reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 3.1 (in 40 reviews)
and the average viewer rating is 3.03 (in 45,173 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

Regular Average: 3.36 Stars
Smart Average: 3.26 Stars*
***** 204 
**** 188 
*** 172 
** 118 
* 97 
  (View results for all titles)
    * Smart Average only includes
         40% of 5-star and 1-star votes
              to counterbalance fringe voting.
   Alternative review at
  Southall -- 6/6/11 (4:18 p.m.)
   Re: How Have 35 People Rated This Already? ...
  Will -- 5/15/11 (10:38 a.m.)
   Re: How Have 35 People Rated This Already? ...
  Nick_may -- 5/14/11 (2:46 p.m.)
   Re: How Have 35 People Rated This Already? ...
  Rick R -- 5/13/11 (8:02 p.m.)
   Re: How Have 35 People Rated This Already? ...
  Nick_may -- 5/13/11 (4:32 p.m.)
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 Track Listings: Total Time: 64:19

• 1. Ancient China/Story of Shen (2:43)
• 2. Dumpling Warrior (1:19)
• 3. Inner Peace (2:26)
• 4. Musicians Village (1:20)
• 5. Save Kung Fu (3:41)
• 6. Daddy Issues (4:22)
• 7. Stealth Mode (4:04)
• 8. Gongmen Jail (2:40)
• 9. Rickshaw Chase (2:36)
• 10. Po and Shen/Face to Face (5:58)
• 11. More Cannons! (3:00)
• 12. Fireworks Factory (6:49)
• 13. Po Finds the Truth (5:04)
• 14. Invasion Begins (2:37)
• 15. Zen Ball Master (7:21)
• 16. My Fist Hungers For Justice (4:55)
• 17. Dumpling Warrior Remix (3:31)

 Notes and Quotes:  

The insert includes no extra information about the score or film.

  All artwork and sound clips from Kung Fu Panda 2 are Copyright © 2011, Varèse Sarabande. The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Filmtracks Publications. Audio clips can be heard using RealPlayer but cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 5/9/11 (and not updated significantly since). Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 2011-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.