Secrets of the Furious Five appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this single-sided, single-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Across the board, the transfer looked terrific.
No issues with sharpness ever materialized. At all times, the show looked crisp and concise, without any softness on display. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and the presentation lacked edge haloes. I also witnessed no signs of source flaws throughout the clean image.
Secrets went with a stylized palette that changed with each part of the show. All of these seemed vivid within stylistic constraints; the colors consistently looked well-rendered. Blacks came across as deep and firm, while low-light shots seemed smooth and concise. I found nothing to criticize in this excellent presentation.
Though not as memorable, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Secrets worked fine. The soundfield boasted good stereo music as well as decent use of effects. The forward spectrum dominated, but the surrounds got a lot to do as well. The various speakers melded together in a positive manner to involve us in the material, especially during action scenes.
Audio quality always satisfied. Speech appeared distinctive and crisp, while effects fared nicely as well. Those elements offered good clarity and range. Music was also lively and full. I didn’t think the mix impressed enough for “A”-level consideration, but it seemed more than satisfactory.
The extras split into two subheadings. Under “Po’s Power Play”, we find three elements. Learn to Draw presents step-by-step tutorials to teach you how to sketch Tigress, Mantis, Po, Crane, Monkey and/or Viper. A combination of narration and visuals gives viewers the necessary methods. It’s a fun way for kids to learn some art techniques.
Next comes a game called Dumpling Shuffle. This follows the “Three-Card Monty” routine, as you have to visually track a dumpling hidden under a bowl. It may provide a minor diversion for kids.
To end “Power Play”, we get Pandamonium Activity Kit. This simply lists some DVD-ROM activities that can be accessed in a computer.
Over in “Land of the Panda”, we find five components. Learn the Panda Dance goes for four minutes, 26 seconds as “our girl Hihat” teaches us how to do the steps. Like everything else, it’s meant for kids, and they may like it. I’m more astounded that a woman willingly dubs herself “Hihat”.
Do You Kung Fu? opens with a 43-second intro that tells us what to expect from the program. From there we can learn the fighting poses used by the movie’s six main characters. Kids will probably enjoy this more than “Panda Dance”, especially since “Fu” comes with a disclaimer; it essentially warns kids not to assault others. Yeah, good luck with that, DreamWorks lawyers!
Next we find Inside the Chinese Zodiac. It allows you to look up the animal that ruled your birth year. Year of the Sheep right here, baby! The feature goes back to 1924, which seems like discrimination against many of the octogenarians watching the DVD. And what’s with the inclusion of the years 2009 through 2019 here? Do the DVD’s producers really think fans will be watching this thing in 2030? Anyway, this is a fun little lesson in the Chinese zodiac.
For more info on the film’s influences, we go to Animals of Kung Fu Panda. The six-minute and 15-second featurette provides some basics about how real-life animals influenced the various kung fu fighting styles. Though pretty basic, it gives us a decent look at these background notes.
Finally, What Fighting Style Are You? gives us a quiz to determine which animal best matches you. It runs through a few multiple-choice questions and then tells you your connection. Like the other parts of the DVD, it’s insubstantial but enjoyable.
That same comment applies to Secrets of the Furious Five. Originally released as a bonus program attached to Kung Fu Panda, the show entertains in a moderate way. At no point does it threaten to really impress the viewer, but it offers a nice continuation for Panda fans. The DVD provides insubstantial extras but boasts excellent visuals and very good audio.
I imagine that anyone interested in Secrets probably already bought it as part of the two-pack with Panda. However, if you missed it the first time and now want to check it out, this edition is worthwhile. Panda fans should enjoy it.