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‘The Amazing Panda Adventure’ (PG)

By Rita Kempley
Washington Post Staff Writer
August 28, 1995

Cuddly critters, majestic scenery, traditional values: What's not to like about "The Amazing Panda Adventure" with its panoply of wide-eyed pleasures?

Set in the bamboo forests of a Himalayan preserve, this sure-footed children's drama chronicles the greening of Ryan Tyler (Ryan Slater), a 10-year-old American who helps a Chinese girl, Ling (Yi Ding), rescue a baby panda from poachers.

Ryan, who lives with his mother, arrives in China to visit his father, Michael (Stephen Lang), a naturalist specializing in the conservation of the giant pandas. Though his father is often too busy for him, Ryan insists on joining him, Ling and her grandfather on a trip into the mountains to check on one of the animals. The panda, a mother with a new cub, has been trapped by poachers, who wound Michael and escape with the baby bear into the deep forest.

When Ryan and Ling attempt to pursue the panda-nappers and their roly-poly plunder, they are separated from the adults. And not only do they overcome many obstacles, but they also become true friends. Ryan, an ugly little American when he begins his adventure, becomes an enlightened guy and offers to take Ling to a mall should she visit the United States someday.

Director Christopher Cain, whose youth-oriented but eclectic filmography includes everything from the Brat Pack western "Young Guns" to the wild-child fantasy "Where the River Runs Black," maintains a taut pace and just enough suspense to keep wee ones from wiggling in their chairs. Ergo, in the movie theater, no pandemonium.

The Amazing Panda Adventure is rated PG.

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