This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Jay’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
I was loving this for awhile until the final act with Tai Lung. The movie randomly wants to present a framework of empathy for the character just to easily brush off the character at the very end. If that was the case, why having him bring up his emotional connection and the lack of validation he got if he doesn’t make peace with his mistakes of the past before his death? That especially became a downer for me the more I realized how Po helping Shifu regain faith in projecting expectations onto a character through empathy rather than strength is the mirror opposite to Shifu and Tai Lung’s relationship. Tai Lung is a character that had a lot going for him. So much of the characters hopes, dreams, and anger is rooted in the false expectations thrusted upon him that is BRIEFLY brought up. And instead of allowing him to make peace with his faults before his death, the final scene with him is framed as heroic for Po with a joke on top of it. Po has a fantastic arc within the movie, but his arc is at the cost of a character that they decided to give trauma rooted undertones to through so many of Tai Lungs actions as a means mainly frame them is “evil” despite other parts showing he is more than just “evil”. That I’m itself is also contradictory to have this binary presentation of good v evil with the eastern centric influence rooted in spiritually and acceptance of ones flaws throughout the film says there is more than what we see in face value. Even Turtle homie who talked about how we cannot take things at face value has rush development is forgotten. That is something that could have been brought back up to present how Tai Lung is not who he is truly perceived to be. Having him rot in the jail to maintain this face value myth of the chosen one could have been brought up in the end. Allowing Shifu to not only see the mistakes he made with Tai Lung, BUT how the values embedded within his own teachings is what cause the other fighters to almost get killed.
Tai Lung is a character I wish had more to him. He is a byproduct of the flawed teachings of not ONLY expectations but ALSO the way he was taught to fight. Ideology is rooted in actions, and I thought the film did a disservice to his character by not fully acknowledging that at the end. Enjoyed the movie, but damn that third act did not work for me. If we are gonna present characters with trauma embedded within their actions, let’s actually do something with that instead bringing it up quickly to quickly get the viewer more emotionally invested with the content. A lot of this conceptually is quickly contradicted by the humor in the third act that undercuts someone’s death down to a fart joke. Thanks.