What would you do if you were an orphan with a once in a lifetime opportunity to gain a friend? What if that friend is a panda? In the new Disney film “Trail of the Panda” (now available on DVD), Lu, an 11-year-old orphan from Sichuan realizes that his guardian, Chen, and Feng, a researcher from the city are out to trap a panda cub. Lu finds the cub and takes it to a dilapidated old shack in the woods. Lu has to go through many struggles to care for the cub. Even just figuring out what the cub likes to eat is a huge challenge!
In the beginning of the story, Lu lost his parents to a fire, and went to stay with Chen, an old bamboo farmer. Chen is very poor, but one day he sees a mother panda with two cubs. He realizes that he could get a small fortune if he sells the panda to a researcher, so he brings Feng to the countryside to help catch one of the cubs, but the cub evades their efforts and is lost in a thunderstorm. The next day, while collecting firewood, Lu finds the cub and names it Pudgy. Lu goes on an incredible journey where he learns the true meaning of friendship. Watch the trailer on the Disney website.
I rated this film 4 out of 5 starfish. This film really captured the innocence of a child. Lu keeps the panda from dying by feeding and sheltering it from the prying eyes of the researcher and the acute smell of his hounds. Lu is very caring to the panda, experimenting with different food and not giving up until he finally finds something Pudgy likes to eat. Also, Lu sleeps with Pudgy and teaches him how to climb trees. One of my favorite scenes is when Lu pretends to be hurt, lying on the ground, and Pudgy comes over and licks his face.
Although it seemed fun, the animal would have bitten Lu in real life. Also Feng, the panda researcher, didn’t act like a scientist and did not seem like an intellectual type but other than that, the story is pretty believable and interesting.
It is a Chinese film with English subtitles. I think the people who would be most interested in this film are Asian Americans or people who are learning Chinese, and all the people in the world who care about pandas and other wildlife.
The moral of this film is that a friendship strengthened by life and death is everlasting.
Copyright 2011 by Perry S. Chen
Perry S. Chen is an 11-year-old award-winning film critic, artist, entertainment personality, filmmaker and animator. He writes movie reviews for San Diego Union Tribune, Animation World Network, Amazing Kids!, and his own website Perry’s Previews (http://perryspreviews.com). His first animation short “Ingrid Pitt: Beyond the Forest” about a young Holocaust survivor has been acquired for worldwide distribution by Shorts International, distributor of Oscar-nominated shorts. Connect with him on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/perryspreviewsfan