Angelina Jolie is one of the greatest actresses of our time. She has given us some truly incredible performances, including Oscar-winning ones in films like Girl, Interrupted. She’s played superheroes, tomb raiders, spies, and so much more. She also happens to be incredibly stunning, with movie-star looks that are indisputable. However, somehow, with all of this in mind, you don’t even see Angelina Jolie in her best movie. You only hear her. That’s because Angelina Jolie’s best movie is Kung-Fu Panda.
Now before you start yelling, have you seen the Dreamworks hit Kung-Fu Panda? In the movie, Angelina Jolie plays a warrior in the movie named Tigress who is part of a group of legendary fighters called The Furious Five. Of these warriors, Tigress could likely be considered the best. The film also stars Jack Black as the titular Kung-Fu Panda named Po. In the early parts of the movie, there is a competition to name the destined Dragon Warrior. Though Tigress seems the most likely candidate, the unlikely Po is dubbed the Dragon Warrior instead.
Without spoiling the movie, Angelina Jolie’s character has a resonant and relatable character arc that is brought to life by Jolie’s subtle performance. Although Kung-Fu Panda is undoubtedly a movie made for kids, it has a ton of heart, great animation, awesome action, and a timeless story with a moral anyone can get behind. Jolie brings gravitas to her role, making Tigress an obviously formidable presence and someone who naturally comes across as a leader. She struggles to gain acceptance and approval throughout the movie while dealing with her destiny changing in a way she didn’t expect. Jolie brings shades of emotion and nuance to the role that elevates it beyond what would be expected for a kid’s movie.
That’s not to say Angelina Jolie is the only thing that brings this movie above your typical kid’s fare. Dustin Hoffman, Lucy Liu, Seth Rogen, David Cross, Jackie Chan, and Ian Mcshane all bring a lot to their roles as well. And of course, the movie lives and dies based on Jack Black’s performance as Po. Naturally, he nails it. He brings that typical Jack Black energy to portray a character who is thrown into a world that they want to be a part of, but don’t yet understand. With a vibrant and off-the-wall performer like Jack Black, you need balance. Angelina Jolie as Tigress and Dustin Hoffman as Master Shifu, the master of The Furious Five, both bring a more straightforward performance that grounds the film. But that’s not to say their performances aren’t funny. As a comedy, there are plenty of jokes, and Jolie and Hoffman are able to deliver with their reactions to Po’s antics.
Something great about the Angelina Jolie movie is that her character, and by extension the audience, learns that heroes can come from anywhere and everywhere. There’s no such thing as a chosen one. Everyone has their own gifts and talents, and everyone can find their place with those gifts and talents. That message just wouldn’t land as well if the movie wasn’t well-written and if it wasn’t carried by such wonderful performances from Black, Jolie, Hoffman, and the rest of the cast.
And although we’re talking about the first Kung-Fu Panda here, the entire trilogy is worth checking out. Unlike some other movie trilogies, this one maintains its quality throughout, growing their characters, their world, and their story in organic and engaging ways. If you love the first Kung-Fu Panda and Angelina Jolie’s performance in it, you’ll love the next two movies as well.
Another great thing about these movies is their respect and insight into Chinese history and culture. The beautiful animation reflects the natural splendor of the country, the martial arts styles were closely studied and replicated in animated form, and notable Chinese actors like Randall Duk Kim, Lucy Liu, and Jackie Chan fill some of the important roles in the movie.
One of the most impressive things an actor can do is emote and act with just their voice. It’s rare that a big-name film actor can seamlessly make the transition to voice acting, but Angelina Jolie brings rare talent to the movie business. While there are plenty of incredible live-action performances from Jolie, I encourage you to give her animated role a chance and check out Kung-Fu Panda if you haven’t already. The movie is currently streaming on Netflix in the United States.