Kung Fu Panda (2008) - Plot Summary Poster



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  • The Dragon Warrior has to clash against the savage Tai Lung as China's fate hangs in the balance. However, the Dragon Warrior mantle is supposedly mistaken to be bestowed upon an obese panda who is a novice in martial arts.

  • It's the story about a lazy, irreverent slacker panda, named Po, who is the biggest fan of Kung Fu around...which doesn't exactly come in handy while working every day in his family's noodle shop. Unexpectedly chosen to fulfill an ancient prophecy, Po's dreams become reality when he joins the world of Kung Fu and studies alongside his idols, the legendary Furious Five -- Tigress, Crane, Mantis, Viper and Monkey -- under the leadership of their guru, Master Shifu. But before they know it, the vengeful and treacherous snow leopard Tai Lung is headed their way, and it's up to Po to defend everyone from the oncoming threat. Can he turn his dreams of becoming a Kung Fu master into reality? Po puts his heart - and his girth - into the task, and the unlikely hero ultimately finds that his greatest weaknesses turn out to be his greatest strengths.

  • A CG-animated comedy about a lazy, irreverent slacker panda, Po, who must somehow become a Kung Fu Master in order to save the Valley of Peace from a villainous snow leopard, Tai Lung. Set in the legendary world of ancient China, this is the story of Po, our unlikely hero, who enters the rigid world of Kung Fu and turning it upside down. Po ultimately becomes a Kung Fu hero by learning that if he believes in himself, he can do anything


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • "Legend tells of a legendary warrior whose kung fu skills were the stuff of legend..." A mysterious panda donning a flowing cape and sedge hat walks through the Chinese landscape. Reputed to be a grand master of kung fu, he enters a tavern where he is immediately attacked by the local ruffians. However, they are no match for his skill and even the legendary kung fu masters, the Furious Five, bow down to the panda's skill, requesting to hang out with him and fight alongside him as...

    ...Po the giant panda (Jack Black) wakes up from his dream in his room. His goose father, Mr. Ping (James Hong) calls to him from the noodle restaurant below to help serve tables. Po admires his Furious Five action figures before going downstairs. An extreme fan of Kung Fu, Po dreams of one day becoming a master worthy of fighting alongside the Five but his girth and clumsiness makes this dream simply a dream and his kung fu talents reside only within his knowledge of moves and artifacts. He is hesitant to express his desires to his dad who is more interested in running his restaurant and advertising his famous 'secret ingredient soup'.

    Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman), a red panda who resides at the Jade Palace temple, practices kung fu in the courtyard with his students, the Furious Five; Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Crane (David Cross), Monkey (Jackie Chan), Viper (Lucy Liu), and Mantis (Seth Rogen), before he is summoned to see tortoise Grand Master Oogway (Randall Duk Kim). Fearing something is wrong, Shifu rushes to find him meditating in the grand hall. Oogway doesn't deny bad news but calmly tells Shifu he's predicted that the snow leopard warrior Tai Lung (Ian McShane) will escape prison and return to the Valley of Peace to wreak destruction once again. Intent on never letting this happen, Shifu sends his goose messenger, Zeng (Dan Fogler), to fly to Chor-Gom Prison to ensure that security is increased. Oogway then proclaims that it is time to choose the Dragon Warrior; a master of great skill who will be granted the secrets of the universe by reading the Dragon Scroll, kept delicately out of reach on the temple ceiling. Assuming that one of the Furious Five will be chosen, Shifu prepares a competition to determine which one will qualify.

    Flyers for the competition are spread throughout town and the villagers flock to the temple. Excited to have the opportunity to see his idols in person, Po follows with his noodle cart in tow but struggles on the long staircase to the temple. He is the last to arrive at the gates and finds that they've shut him out. In a desperate bid to see the competition before it's over, Po fashions fireworks to his cart and blasts himself high into the air, only to come crashing down in the arena just as Oogway is preparing to choose out of the Five. Po opens his eyes to see Oogway's finger pointed right at him and is shocked, along with everyone else, when he is proclaimed to be the Dragon Warrior. Oogway's decision is final, despite Shifu's protests, and Po is carried (unsuccessfully) into the temple leaving Tigress greatly disappointed since it seemed Oogway would have chosen her if Po hadn't arrived.

    Inside the temple, Po examines, with awe, the many weaponry and valuable artifacts before Shifu approaches him and berates him for his obvious lack of skill. He deflates Po's excitement by grabbing his finger in what Po recognizes as the Wuxi Finger Hold, reputed to be extremely powerful. Shifu promises that Po will regret ever being chosen before taking him to the Fives training room where Po is promptly put to the test. Nervous, but excited to try some kung fu moves, Po accepts the challenge but is hurtled, flung, and beaten down to a now-existing Level 0.

    On the way to the dormitories, Po overhears the Five poke fun at his incompetence. He has an awkward conversation with Crane, opening up to his own doubts of being the Dragon Warrior. Tigress assures his doubts, calling him a disgrace to kung fu and tells him that, if he is wise, he will leave by morning. Disheartened, Po retreats to a secluded spot. Oogway finds him sitting beneath the Peach Tree of Heavenly Wisdom with peaches stuffed into his mouth. Sensing his distress, and noting that he finds comfort in food, Oogway tells Po that he worries too much about what was or what could be. He should instead focus on the present moment rather than doubting himself.

    Renewed with a sense of determination, Po rises the next morning before anyone else and announces that he will stay to train. He spars with each of the Furious Five, receiving swift beatings despite his undeterred enthusiasm. Frustrated by Po's perseverance, Shifu is at a loss. However, the Five become impressed by Po's fortitude and eventually start to warm up to him, with the exception of Tigress. During an acupuncture session with Mantis, the Five reveal that Shifu was not always as stern as he currently is. Tigress explains that Tai Lung himself was the reason for Shifu's shift in personality. Having found him as a newborn on the steps of the temple, Shifu raised Tai Lung as his own and began to hope that he was the fabled Dragon Warrior when the cub displayed a natural talent in kung fu. However, when the time came to stand before Oogway, the grand master sensed darkness in Tai Lung and denied him the honor of receiving the Dragon Scroll. Enraged, Tai Lung went on a rampage through the village and attempted to take the scroll by force. Caring for him too much, Shifu was unable to fight Tai Lung and Oogway was forced to defeat him by blocking his chi. Tigress then says that Shifu never cared for anything or anyone since, not even her; his own foster daughter.

    Meanwhile, Zeng arrives at Chor-Gom Prison and is escorted to Tai Lung's hold by the over-confident Commander Vachir (Michael Clarke Duncan), a rhinoceros. Vachir assures Zeng that the prison is inescapable as one of Zeng's feathers falls within reach of Tai Lung. Using his tail, he uses the feather to remove the chi-blockers in the turtle-shell contraption on his back and break free. Tai Lung escapes the prison in an explosive display of his fierce kung fu abilities and grabs Zeng, instructing him to fly back to Shifu to announce that the real Dragon Warrior is coming home.

    Back at the temple, Po entertains the Five with some noodle soup he prepared, imitating Shifu using a noodle as a mustache. Outside, Shifu is met by a disheveled Zeng who relays the news. Panicked, Shifu finds Oogway beside the Sacred Peach Tree and tells him that Tai Lung is on his way. Oogway is shocked, but assures Shifu that, if he finds faith in the panda and trains him, Tai Lung will be defeated and Shifu will finally find inner peace. He then gives Shifu his wooden staff and claims that his time has come. He walks near the edge of the cliff side and vanishes in a haze of peach blossoms. Shifu returns to the temple, disconsolate, and informs the Five of Oogway's passing and how Po is their last chance to defeat Tai Lung. Horrified, Po flees from the temple but is soon stopped by Shifu. Po confronts Shifu, saying that he tried to kick him out of the temple. When Shifu asks Po why he then stayed knowing that his teacher wanted him to quit, Po confesses a deep self-loathing as a fat failure how he held out a faint hope that Shifu could change him. As Shifu realizes how spiritually burdened the giant panda is, Po asks how he will train him to become the Dragon Warrior. Facing such an challenge with a student so encumbered in multiple respects, Shifu admits that he doesn't know.

    Overhearing this from the temple roof, Tigress leaves the Jade Palace and runs out to the countryside, soon followed by the rest of the Five, to meet Tai Lung head on. They find him crossing the Thread of Hope, a series of bridges through the mountains. They attempt to stop him on the last bridge. After an epic battle, the Five gain the upper hand and appear to have defeated Tai Lung, tying him to the remains of the severed bridge and sending him into the mist below. However, Tai Lung's skills prove superior, and he surprises them by flinging himself onto the cliff and overpowering them with a chi block.

    Rising that morning, Shifu finds Po in the temple kitchen, surrounded by cabinets with perfect hole punches in the doors and boards broken clean in two. Shifu entertains an idea and tells Po where Monkey keeps his cookies before hiding behind the doorway. He reenters and sees Po performing a perfect split near the ceiling, chowing down on the cookies. Realizing Po's latent talent, Shifu takes him high into the Wu Dan Mountains to the Pool of Sacred Tears where Oogway founded the origins of kung fu. With a dramatic flourish, Shifu proclaims to be Po's master, with full faith in his student at last. With that emotional support, Shifu begins his rigorous training Po, using food as a reward. Po's unique training proves to be successful and he grows stronger and more coordinated while Shifu's own spirits rises and advances at Po's rapid improvement. Shifu's faith in Po is vindicated in an increasingly energetic duel over a dumpling that becomes a wild spar in which the Giant Panda fights with powerful and innovative skill to win. However, it is when Po throws back the dumpling he won that Shifu has truly advanced, with a newfound emotional strength and serenity.

    They return to the temple as Crane flies in, carrying the rest of the Five, who have been paralyzed by Tai Lung's attacks. Shifu rejuvenates them but Po is discouraged by the fact that five masters could not overpower Tai Lung; how could he? Shifu assures him that he will have what no one else has; the Dragon Scroll. Shifu retrieves it for Po and instructs him to read it, but Po exclaims in surprise to find nothing but a blank, reflective glaze on the scroll. Terribly disappointed, Shifu relents to have the Five evacuate the village while he remains at the temple to hold Tai Lung off. The Five reluctantly agree and Po returns to his father who is packing up the noodle shop. Ping tries to console Po, but Po admits that hes not sure of who he is and can't believe he's Ping's son. Taken aback, Ping whispers to Po something he should have told him long ago; the secret ingredient to his famous secret ingredient soup. The secret is... nothing. He explains that something becomes special if people truly believe that it is. Po opens the scroll to see his reflection on its glazed surface and realizes the secret before turning back to the temple.

    Shifu waits at the top of the steps until Tai Lung arrives. Refusing to give his old student the scroll, Shifu battles Tai Lung. Tai Lung demands his birthright to have the scroll and blames Shifu for planting dreams in his head of what he thought was his destiny and not standing up to Oogway when the turtle disagreed. Shifu, while fending off his adoptive sons' attacks, justifies that he is obeying his master's judgment and it was Oogway's decision to make alone. However, when Tai Lung see Master Oogway's memorial, the snow leopard sneeringly counters that Shifu has obviously replaced the late Master and thus the red panda now has the authority to arbitrarily overrule Oogway's decision. Infuriated at the idea of disrespecting his teacher's legacy like that, Shifu goes on the attack.

    In the battlle, Tai Lung wails, with a subtle undertone of grief and abandonment, at Shifu to tell him how proud he is and Shifu admits that he was proud from the first moment, but it was his pride that blinded him from seeing what Tai Lung was becoming. Tai Lung is momentarily moved by this confession, but his vindictive ambition spitefully reasserts. Denying any interest in apologies or any reconciliation with his foster father, Tai Lung demands only the scroll. He is stopped from dealing a deadly blow to Shifu by Po, who appears, exhausted, at the doorway of the temple. Baffled by the Dragon Warrior's pudgy exterior, Tai Lung nonetheless attacks Po when he reveals the Dragon Scroll in hand. Their battle takes them into the village, each one vying for possession of the scroll. At one point, Po imagines the scroll as a bowl of dumplings to encourage him to climb a high precipice to get it, but Tai Lung is convinced that the scroll is giving him power.

    After a protracted battle, Tai Lung finally wins the scroll and triumphantly opens it for the supposed power within. However, upon seeing the golden reflection within, he completely fails to understand its symbolic meaning. When Po rises to explain it, Tai Lung refuses to accept the panda's words or the fact that everything the snow leopard has betrayed and sacrificed in his eyes has been for apparently nothing.

    Now consumed with such enraged despair, Tai Lung attacks Po again, but without discipline or real purpose behind it. Using ingenuity and his rebounding stomach, Po manages to render Tai Lung helpless. Tai Lung spews out a slur of insults before Po takes his finger in the Wuxi Finger Hold. Tai Lung calls Pos bluff and Po admits that Shifu never taught him the move - he figured it out on his own. With a triumphant "Skadoosh!", Po flexes his pinky, resulting in a magnificent wave of raw energy that resonates throughout the valley and is felt by the Five leading the refugees into the hills. Having presumably killed Tai Lung, Po is cheered on by the returning villagers. Tigress and the rest of the Five bow down to Po, calling him master, before Po runs back to the temple to check on Shifu. He finds Shifu lying still, but alive, on the floor of the temple and tells him he defeated Tai Lung. Shifu thanks him and tells Po that he's brought him peace before closing his eyes. Po calls out to him and Shifu reprimands him, saying that he's merely resting. Po lies down beside him and, after a quiet, meditative moment, asks if he wants to get something to eat. Shifu says, Ok.

    They enjoy a meal of dumplings together at the Peach Tree of Heavenly Wisdom, overlooking a new day while a seed that Shifu had previously planted begins to bloom.

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