25th Jul2014

‘The Legend of Kung-Fu Rabbit’ DVD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Jon Heder, Tom Arnold, Rebecca Black, Michael Clarke Duncan, Claire Geare | Written by Melanie Simka, Mychal Simka | Directed by Lijun Sun

Kung-Fu-Rabbit-DVD

You only have to walk into the home entertainment section of any supermarket in the UK to see the shelves clogged up with numerous straight to DVD animated movies – many of which walk the fine line between “based on the same fairy tale” to “complete rip-off of a recent theatrical release”. In the case of The Legend of Kung-Fu Rabbit we’re sitting squarely in the latter camp. Only it’s arrived on DVD a mere three years too late…

Originally released in 2011 but only now seeing the light of day here in the UK, The Legend of Kung Fu Rabbit is actually a Chinese animated movie, Tu Xia Chuan Qi, which has been re-titled and re-voiced for Western audiences. The film tells the story of Fu, an overweight rabbit chef, who is telepathically given the ultimate kung-fu power after rescuing a martial arts master from a fatal attack from an evil kung-fu “panda”, with the promise that he would return a mystical kung fu tablet to the masters estranged daughter, Penny.

The Legend of Kung Fu Rabbit is the worst kind of film making. It’s just plain lazy. Not even the interesting choice of voice cast can save this film from hitting the bargain bins (and carboot sales) everywhere the weekend after its released. Whilst the dearly-departed Michael Clarke Duncan gives a fantastic performance as the villainous “panda” Slash – it turns out his voice was made for a villainous role; Jon Heder (Napoleon Dynamite, Blades of Glory) seems to have made the odd decision to make his heroic Fu sound like a lumbering, often effeminate, imbecile. As for the infamous Rebecca “Friday” Black as Shifu’s daughter Penny? A little emotion in her performance would have gone a long way. Instead she’s as tonally flat as her famous one-hit wonder.

It’s hard to believe that a film like this exists. Surely Dreamworks, makers of Kung Fu Panda, should’ve sued this film out of existence. After all it copies just about every aspect of the panda flick, only making not-so-subtle changes to cast identities and names… Po the fat panda becomes Fu the overweight rabbit. Hell, the fimmakers didn’t even bother to change Master Shifu’s name, instead he becomes a monkey rather than a Red Panda. And so it continues. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever seen a more blatant case of filmic plagiarism – not even The Asylum have the balls to be this flagrant with copyright when it comes to their mockbusters!

The Legend of Kung Fu Rabbit is released on DVD on August 11th, courtesy of Signature Entertainment.

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