Movies - Kung Fu Panda 4 Star, James Hong, Honored with TCL Chinese Theatre Handprints-Footprints Ceremony

By Mulder, Los Angeles, TCL Chinese Theater, 22 february 2024

In a momentous ceremony at the TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX, Hollywood paid tribute to a living legend, James Hong, the venerable actor and advocate for Asian American representation in the entertainment industry. Hong, best known for his heartwarming portrayal of Mr. Ping in DreamWorks Animation's Kung Fu Panda franchise, had his hands and feet cast in cement, forever leaving an indelible mark on the iconic Hollywood Walk of Fame.

The event not only celebrated the impending release of Kung Fu Panda 4, hitting theaters on March 8, but also recognized Hong's extraordinary seven-decade career, which spans over 600 credits across a multitude of roles. At the age of 95, he stands as a testament to versatility, talent, and resilience in an industry that has undergone significant transformations.

The TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX handprints-footprints tribute, a distinction bestowed upon only a select few over its 96-year history, now includes James Hong among its prestigious honorees. The ceremony, with the bustling backdrop of Hollywood Boulevard, echoed the grandeur of Hollywood's Golden Age, reminiscent of the glamorous premieres that once graced the historic theater.

Hong's handprints and footprints now join those of cinematic luminaries like Clark Gable, Jimmy Stewart, and Jack Nicholson. Notably, he becomes one of the few Asian and Asian-American actors to receive this coveted honor, following in the footsteps of trailblazers like Jackie Chan and directors John Woo and Justin Lin.

Beyond his on-screen accomplishments, Hong co-founded the East West Players in 1965, making significant strides in promoting diversity and representation in theater. This commitment to addressing the challenges faced by Asian actors continues to resonate, as the East West Players remains the nation's longest-running Asian American theater.

As the sun set over Hollywood Boulevard, the event seamlessly transitioned from the legacy of James Hong to the eagerly anticipated release of Kung Fu Panda 4. Directed by Mike Mitchell and co-directed by Stephanie Ma Stine, the film promises to be a cinematic spectacle that not only pays homage to the franchise's roots but also embarks on a new and exciting adventure.

Kung Fu Panda 4, set to premiere on March 8, reunites audiences with familiar characters voiced by an ensemble cast, including Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Bryan Cranston, and, of course, James Hong. The addition of new talents like Awkwafina, Viola Davis, and Ke Huy Quan injects fresh energy into the animated martial arts comedy.

The plot unfolds as Po, voiced by Jack Black, faces his most challenging adventure yet - becoming the Spiritual Leader of the Valley of Peace and training his successor as the new Dragon Warrior. Simultaneously, a formidable new adversary, The Chameleon, portrayed by Viola Davis, emerges, capable of resurrecting villains from the past.

Director Mike Mitchell describes Kung Fu Panda 4 as a love letter to the franchise's roots, combining its connection to previous entries with a narrative that stands on its own. The film promises evolved characters, introducing the morally ambiguous Zhen and exploring a more complex and challenging adventure.

The release of the trailer on December 13, 2023, garnered over 142 million views in the first 24 hours, solidifying Kung Fu Panda 4 as the most-viewed trailer for a Universal animated film. As part of a strategic deal with Netflix, the film will have its initial streaming run on Peacock, followed by a ten-month stint on Netflix.

Hans Zimmer and Steve Mazzaro, known for their work on the first three films, return to compose the film's score, ensuring a musical backdrop that complements the action-packed sequences and emotional beats of the story.

James Hong's legacy and the upcoming release of Kung Fu Panda 4 mark a significant moment in Hollywood, where diversity, representation, and the enduring magic of animated storytelling take center stage. As the city of stars shines a bit brighter, the anticipation builds for a cinematic experience that not only honors the past but also propels the Kung Fu Panda franchise into new and exciting territories.

Synopsis : 
After three adventures in which dragon warrior Po battled the most fearsome masters of evil with unrivalled courage and martial arts skills, fate is once again knocking at his door to... invite him to finally rest. Specifically, to be appointed spiritual leader of the Valley of Peace. This poses a few obvious problems. Firstly, Po has mastered spiritual leadership as well as regimes, and secondly, he must quickly find and train a new dragon warrior before he can enjoy the benefits of his prestigious promotion. Worse still, there's talk of the recent appearance of a witch as ill-intentioned as she is powerful, Chameleone, a tiny lizard who can metamorphose into any creature, regardless of size. Now Chameleone has her greedy, beady eyes on Po's Staff of Wisdom, with which she hopes to summon back from the spirit realm all the evil masters our dragon warrior has vanquished. Po will have to find help. He'll get it (or won't he?) from Zhen, a Corsican vixen, a cunning and quick-witted thief who irritates Po to no end, but whose skills will prove invaluable. In order to protect the Valley of Peace from Chameleone's reptilian clutches, this strange duo will have to find common ground. In the process, Po discovers that heroes are not always where you expect them to be.

Kung Fu Panda 4
Directed by Mike Mitchell, Stephanie Stine
Written by Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger
Produced by Rebecca Huntley
Starring  Jack Black, Awkwafina, Viola Davis, Dustin Hoffman, James Hong,Bryan Cranston, Ian McShane, Ke Huy Quan
Edited by Christopher Knights
Music by Hans Zimmer, Steve Mazzaro
Production Company : DreamWorks Animation
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date : March 8, 2024 (United States), March 27, 2024 (France)
Running time : 94 minutes

Photos and video : Copyright Universal Pictures