Secrets Of The Furious Five

Secrets Of The Furious Five
"The Kung Fu Panda story continues!” boasts the cover. However, this straight-to-DVD release, available only in a package with KFP, is more like one of those secret origins issues of Marvel Comics where we break from the main story to reveal how a superhero found his powers. In this case, we uncover the legend behind Tigress, Crane, Mantis, Monkey and Viper. Each hero learns a moral attribute when they receive their powers, such as empathy or self-confidence. Though innocuous, these secrets run for all of 24 minutes and reprise only the voices of Dustin Hoffman (as Shifu) and Jack Black (as Po the Panda) from the summer hit. Even worse, the animation is nowhere near as dazzling as the CGI found in the parent movie and resembles an above-average Saturday morning cartoon. The DVD is essentially a grab bag of games aimed at children. A feature teaches kids to draw each of the Furious Five stroke-by-stroke. Similarly, another teaches kung fu moves with detailed step-by-step instructions. Another instructional video shows kids how to do the "Panda Dance.” There’s a FAQ of the Chinese zodiac, while another featurette details the physical attacks of each of the animals in the Furious Five. Inserting the disc into the PC offers two videogame demos and some images of the Furious Five that kids can print at home. All the features are child-friendly, fun, easy to understand and educational. Add them all up and you get a DVD that feels suspiciously like the bonus disc of a two-DVD set: some cute stuff but not essential on its own. In fact, priced at only a few dollars more with the film, Secrets of the Furious Five is being bundled just like a bonus disc. However, there are enough good extra features on the Kung Fu Panda DVD already. This disc is worthy only if you want to give a gift, which I suspect is the whole point behind this package. (Dreamworks/Paramount)