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Film Review of Kung Fu Panda

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Film Studies
Wordcount: 2537 words Published: 18th May 2020

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Kung Fu Panda (2008)

Cast: Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Ian McShane, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu, Jackie Chan

Director: John Stevenson and Mark Osborne

Genre: Fairy Tale and Martial Arts

Synopsis: the setting of the film is a version of ancient China populated by talking animals. Our protagonist, Po, an enthusiastic, big and little clumsy panda, is the biggest fan of kung fu. He wants to become a kung fu master, but he does not have any practical experience only because he is working in his father’s noodle shop. However, Po is accidentally chosen to be the “Dragon Warrior” to fulfill an ancient prophecy and he joins the world of kung fu and studies with his idols – “the furious five”: Tigress, Crane, Mantis, Viper and Monkey – under Master Shifu’s leadership. However, an evil kung fu warrior named Tai Lung is escaped from prison and he could only be defeated by the “Dragon Warrior”. From now on, a long journey of Po begins.

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Thesis statement: the movie was the first major US-China co-production animated movie, the key challenge for the movie is to combine the Chinese and American cultures into the same movie. The director applied the characteristics of different animals to vividly represent the differences between Chinese and American cultures. Moreover, how Po became the Dragon Warrior is another key point for the movie. In this movie, to become the Dragon Warrior, it is important to enjoy today, inspire potential and believe in yourself.


In an alternative ancient China, where it is populated entirely by talking animals, a panda named Po awoke from a dream which he had a historical fighting with his idol, the Furious Five – Tigress, Monkey, Mantis, Viper and Crane – trained under Master Shifu. However, in real life, Po was a son of a goose called Mr. Ping and worked in his family’s noodle shop in Valley of Peace. Po wished that he could become a kung fu warrior, but his father was pride in their “noodle folk” heritage and Mr. Ping wanted Po to run the restaurant some day with unawareness of his son’s true aspiration.

In the same time in the Jade Palace, Master Shifu, who is the master of the Furious Five, was told by Master Oogway that the snow leopard Tai Lung, who was a student of Master Shifu would escape from high-security prison and attack the Valley of Peace. Shifu immediately sent a goose called Zeng to the prison to ask guards to strengthen the security to prevent the prophecy. Meanwhile, Master Oogway told Shifu that it was time to choose the Dragon Warrior, one was worthy to receive Dragon Scroll, which would provide supreme power to whoever read it. Therefore, Master Oogway and Shifu held a tournament to decide which of the Furious Five would become the Dragon Warrior.

Be aware of the tournament, Po became furious to attend it, but he was asked to take a noodle cart up the giant staircase to the Jade Palace arena. After a long struggle, he eventually climbed the stair himself without taking the cart. When he arrived at the top, the gates closed and the tournament stated. Even though Po was desperate, Po tried different ways to get inside but all with negative results. Finally, Po found a chair with full of fireworks and he lit them, and he eventually fell into the middle of the arena in front of Oogway, who was going to choose the best candidate to become Dragon Warrior. Oogway pointed to Tigress as the Dragon Warrior but with unexpected appearance of Po, he was chosen to become the Dragon Warrior.

Master Shifu wanted to persuade Oogway to change the candidate for the Dragon Warrior but he failed and thus, at the first day of training, Shifu tried to pressure Po to quit by humiliating and threatening him. At night, Po was upset and he wanted to quit after being coldly told off by Tigress. Po then went to Peach Tree of Heavenly Wisdom and stuff his mouth with peaches because Po always ate food when upset. When discovered by Master Oogway, he provided some suggestions and told Po to focus only on his present instead of worrying about the failures of the past or future. Meanwhile, Tai Lung used one of the loose feathers from the goose sent by Master Shifu to open the lock. After defeating all the guards in the prison, the snow leopard asked the messenger to tell Shifu that “the real Dragon Warrior is coming home”.

After taking Oogway’s advice, Po arrived early to practice, surprising Shifu and the Furious Five who convinced that Po had quit. Later, convinced by Oogway, Master Shifu made a promise that he would train Po successfully to become the Dragon Warrior. Then, Oogway ascended to heaven. Once heard that Tai Lung was coming, Po was panic and he tried to flee from the palace but Shifu refused to let Po go insisting that Oogway’s with must be followed. However, Po just lost his confidence and Shifu did not have better idea to train Po. After witnessing the conversation on the roof of the Palace, Tigress and the Furious Five was going to stop Tai Lung themselves.

The next morning, Shifu was impressed by Po who displayed incredible ability when he was motivated by food. Shifu then discovered a special training session in the mountain to teach Po and promised that as long as Po learned his lesson well, he would get food as a reward. After few months training, Po became a skilled and capable warrior.

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When Po was becoming a kung fu warrior, Furious Five met Tai Lung at a long rope bridge over a misty canyon. Even though Five initially won the battle, Tai Lung eventually defeated the Furious Five using nerve attacks. Crane managed to fly back carrying with other members to the Jade Palace. Shifu thought it was time for Po so that he gave the Dragon Scroll to Po but there was nothing but a blank, golden reflective surface after Po opened the scroll.

Knowing that the scroll is apparently worthless, Shifu ordered Po and the Furious Five to evacuate the Valley while he prepared the fight with Tai Lung to protect villagers’ safety as long as he could. During the evacuation, Po met his father who was preparing to leave with his new idea of a new noodle shop. Po told his father that he will not become the Dragon Warrior. To console him, Mr. Ping revealed the secret ingredient of his famous soup which was “nothing” – except the power of conviction. Taking this, Po opened the Dragon Scroll again, he realized that this idea was suitable on this occasion and his own destiny. Thus, Po decided to return to the Palace to face Tai Lung.

At the palace, Tai Lung encountered Shifu and wanted to have the scroll. He blamed Shifu for not speaking up for him in front of Oogway to become the Dragon Warrior. After defeated by Tai Lung, Shifu eventually offered an apology to Tai Lung but after hesitation, he refused to take it and the only thing Tai Lung wanted was the Dragon Scroll but he noticed the scroll was missing. Therefore, Tai Lung was angry and pinned Shifu to the floor by his throat. Before Tai Lung was about to strike to his former master with his claws, Po arrived on time, claiming to be the Dragon Warrior.

Tai Lung did not expect that the Dragon Warrior is a panda. As Po pulled out the Dragon scroll, he was attacked by the leopard. Soon the battle on possession of the scroll between the two began. At first, Po did not have strength to fight with Tai Lung so Tai Lung stole the scroll and when he opened the scroll, there is nothing in it. Tai Lung was angry but Po told him that “there is no secret ingredient… it’s just you.” Furious by this, Tai Lung attacked the panda again but this time, Po used the counter-attacks to defeat Tai Lung and eventually capture the exhausted Tai Lung with Finger hold. After saying the word “skadoosh”, Po performed a supreme attack and defeat the snow leopard.

The Furious Five soon returned to the village with villagers and witnessed the victory of Po. Citizens were happy and they worshipped panda. But Po remembered that Shifu was critically wounded, he returned to the palace. Shifu did not die and he was happy that Po defeated Tai Lung. Later, Po and Shifu were eating dumplings under Oogway’s peach tree, where the peach seed Shifu planted began to sprout into a seeding.


The movie reflects the heroism in the modern world but to become a hero, the true nature of yourself need to be explored. At the beginning of the movie, Po, like most of other citizens in the valley, wants to become a kung fu warrior. However, his panda nature is impossible for him to achieve his dream to become kung fu warrior. Thus, the only thing to do is to change or control Po’s nature. After first day training, Po was upset and he was eating peach under the peach tree, then Master Oogway told Po “You are too concerned with what was and what will be. There’s the saying, ‘Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift, that is why it is called the present’”. To find your own nature, firstly, you need to enjoy today and do all useful things in a single day. Even though people think you cannot do anything, if you work hard or study hard everyday, you might become successful. Similarly, even though Po’s panda nature is hard for him to become a kung fu warrior, if Po trains harder everyday, no one will humiliate him even though he failed. Thus, it is important to enjoy today and do useful things every day to enrich your life. In addition, Master Shifu was concerned on how to train Po to become the Dragon Warrior, he then realized that Po could become a warrior motivated by food. Therefore, to explore true nature, we cannot apply traditional method. Instead, everyone has some special abilities they owned but they do not know. To activate or explore their special skills or abilities, we need someone to find your specialty and that person is your “Bo Le”. In the movie, Shifu is a good teacher because he discovered his potential and dug out Po’s specialty. Finally, when Po opened the Dragon Scroll, he did not find anything in it but after talking with his father during evacuation, he realized that believe in yourself is the key to become the Dragon Warrior. Thus, he defeated Tai Lung at the end. Hence, to explore people’s true nature, we need to enjoy today, believe in yourself and inspire your potential.

The movie is the first major US-China co-production animated movie, how to combine Western and Eastern elements in the same movie is the key challenge for the movie. Firstly, all characters are talking animals, which children are willing to watch the movies and it is easy to express producer’s ideas from the animated movie to children by telling the excellent story. Furthermore, Po is a panda which is the rare protected animal and a distinctive symbol in China. Panda in China is clumsy and no motor nerve. The movie well reflects the characteristic of panda. Moreover, the Furious Five represents Chinses representative animals, which are South China tiger (Tigress), green tree viper (Viper), golden snub-nosed monkey (Monkey), Chinese mantis (Mantis) and red-crowned crane (Crane). It also represents the four famous styles of Chinese martial arts, which are Tiger Crane Double form boxing, snake fist, monkey fist and mantis fist. Meanwhile, Master Oogway is one the four spirituals in China, which indicates longevity. On the other side, the movie also reflects American values and the differences between Chinese and American cultures. Po’s father is a goose, which owns a noodle shop. He wants his son to inherit his career. In China, you career is dependent on what your parents or you family’s career. If your parents are doctors or entrepreneur, they want you to become doctor or entrepreneur in the future and they always ask you to attend some classes that you do not want to. However, Master Shifu is the character that reflects the personal struggle values in America. He is the mentor for Po and Po’s potential was inspired by Shifu. In addition, Shifu helped Po to build self-confidence by keep training him. This indicates the American personal struggle values that if you believe in yourself, keep training, you will be successful. Therefore, not only Chinese cultures are reflected in the movie but also the American cultures are introduced to the movie and those two cultures are combined well and clearly interpreted in the movie. 


Po’s success is closely related to Master Shifu who is willing to teach everything to Po and help Po to build self-confidence. It is a good character to reflect personal struggle values in China and on the contrary, Mr. Ping reflects that how Chinese parents pressure their children to inherit their career. However, both elements are well-combined in the movie. On the other hand, Po became successful because he realized that to become a true warrior, believing in yourself is important. Similarly, in the real life, if people want to do something they like, they need to believe in themselves, do useful things everyday and inspire their potential. In this way, people will become successful.


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  2. The Panda Fulfills His Destiny. (2019). Retrieved from https://cosgrrrl.com/the-panda-fulfills-his-destiny-5a07ea84d12b
  3. Kung Fu Panda. (2019). Retrieved from https://kungfupanda.fandom.com/wiki/Kung_Fu_Panda
  4. Twins, T. (2019). Kung Fu Panda (2008) – Movie Review / Film Essay. Retrieved from https://gonewiththetwins.com/new/kung-fu-panda-2008/


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