The opening sequence held so much promise. Cheesy animation evocative of Powerpuff Girls with all the various participants in their computer-generated alter egos in a five second animation that pretty told you all you really needed to know about the characters, aka their schticks. With the title Anna in Kungfu Land, there was the hope of a mindless but enjoyable farce of a live action cartoon.
Thankfully, a significant chunk of the film plays on this and milks it for all it’s worth. Once the competition comes into full force, we have all the kung fu masters lined up in their ridiculous and gawdy looking costumes that is cringe worthy to see but a solid reminder why faithful recreations of computer games and comic books are generally a bad idea. The fights are silly and nonsensical but there is no denying that is the entire point. Even when we lose half the participants in the first round, there is no sense of loss as the charactersation didn’t go far beyond their costume.
Alas, ’twas not all candy floss and red cordial (now you didn’t see THAT one coming).
What we have instead is a film that seems to build upon two different premises that hold no synergy whatsoever. On the one hand we have the cartoon we all walk into the cinema expecting and then there is the romance between the philandering Kay and the naive superhero, Anna. The attempts at adding depth to this plot line stand out in contrast to the shallowness of the rest of the film – and yet still come off as weak and unconvincing. It is unfortunate it is this part of the film that pads out the majority of the time we spend staring at the screen.
In the end Anna in Kungfu Land is a film that tries to capture the energy and silliness of Saturday morning cartoons like Dragonball Z (without the constipating power build-ups) in a romantic comedy. What is unfortunate is that the tournament they use to pad out the movie are what make the movie interesting and are too far and few between.