Kung Fu Panda
Kung Fu Panda is a 2008 American computer-animated wuxia comedy film produced by DreamWorks Animation and distributed by Paramount Pictures.1 It was directed by John Stevenson and Mark Osborne and produced by Melissa Cobb, and stars the voices of Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Ian McShane, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu, David Cross, Randall Duk Kim, James Hong, Dan Fogler, Michael Clarke Duncan, and Jackie Chan. The film is set in a version of ancient China populated by anthropomorphic talking animals and revolves around a bumbling panda named Po, a kung fu enthusiast. When an evil kung fu warrior named Tai Lung is foretold to escape from prison, Po is unwittingly named the "Dragon Warrior", that was destined to defeat him.
|Kung Fu Panda|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||John Stevenson|
|Produced by||Melissa Cobb|
|Screenplay by||Jonathan Aibel|
|Story by||Ethan Reiff|
Randall Duk Kim
Michael Clarke Duncan
|Music by||Hans Zimmer|
|Cinematography||Yong Duk Jhun|
|Edited by||Clare Knight|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures1|
|Box office||$631.7 million|
The film was conceived by Michael Lachance, a DreamWorks Animation executive. It was originally intended to be a parody, but director Stevenson decided instead to shoot an action comedy wuxia film that incorporates the hero's journey narrative archetype for the lead character. The computer animation in the film was more complex than anything DreamWorks had done before. As with most DreamWorks animated films, Hans Zimmer (this time collaborating with John Powell) scored Kung Fu Panda. He visited China to absorb the culture and get to know the China National Symphony Orchestra as part of his preparation.
Kung Fu Panda premiered in the United States on June 6, 2008. The film received positive reviews upon release. Kung Fu Panda opened in 4,114 theaters, grossing $20.3 million on its opening day and $60.2 million on its opening weekend, resulting in the number one position at the box office. The film became DreamWorks' biggest opening for a non-sequel film, the highest grossing animated film of the year worldwide, and also had the fourth-largest opening weekend for a DreamWorks animated film at the American and Canadian box office, behind Shrek 2, Shrek the Third, and Shrek Forever After. A sequel, Kung Fu Panda 2, was released on May 26, 2011, along with a television series Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness premiering on Nickelodeon later that same year as a part of a franchise. A second sequel called Kung Fu Panda 3 was released on January 29, 2016.
In the Valley of Peace, a land in ancient China inhabited by anthropomorphic animals, Po Ping the giant panda is a kung fu fanatic who idolizes the Furious Five – Tigress, Monkey, Mantis, Viper, and Crane – a quintet of kung fu masters trained by Master Shifu, the red panda. However, Po is unable to pursue his dream of learning kung fu as he helps his adoptive father, Mr. Ping the goose, in his noodle restaurant.
Grand Master Oogway, an old Galápagos tortoise and Shifu's mentor, has a vision that Shifu's former student and adoptive son, the evil snow leopard, Tai Lung, will escape from prison and return to the valley to exact his revenge for being denied the Dragon Scroll, which is said to hold the secret to boundless power. Panicked, Shifu sends his messenger, Zeng the goose, with a request for the prison to tighten its security. He then holds a tournament for the Furious Five so that Oogway can identify the Dragon Warrior, the one kung fu master worthy of receiving the Dragon Scroll. While Po fails to arrive at the arena before the doors are closed; desperate to see the Dragon Warrior, Po straps himself to a set of fireworks and launches himself into the middle of the arena in front of Oogway as he points towards the Dragon Warrior. To the shock of everyone present, Oogway proclaims Po as the chosen warrior. Shifu believes that it was an accident and states Tigress was going to be picked before Po fell in front of her. Oogway tells him there are no accidents and that he believes Po can become the Dragon Warrior.
Unwilling to accept Oogway's decision, Shifu tries to dispose of Po with an excruciatingly harsh training regime, coupled with constant belittlement of his physique and personality. The Furious Five similarly berate Po as an enthusiast with no potential in martial arts. Tigress is especially harsh, due to her jealousy over Po, a lazy, fat panda, being chosen for Dragon Warrior when she has been training for it her whole life. Po considers resigning, but after receiving encouragement from Oogway, he endures his training and gradually befriends the Five with his resilience, culinary skill, and good humor.
Meanwhile, Tai Lung escapes from prison, ironically picking his locks with Zeng's fallen feather, making Oogway's vision self-fulfilling. Shifu learns of Tai Lung's escape from Zeng and informs Oogway, who extracts a promise from Shifu to believe in Po, and then passes on to the heavens in a stream of peach blossoms. Still unable to grasp the basics of kung fu, Po despairingly admits that he has no chance of defeating Tai Lung. Overhearing this, the Five leave to stop Tai Lung themselves. However, Shifu discovers that Po is capable of impressive physical feats when motivated by food. Using food as positive reinforcement, Shifu successfully trains Po by incorporating these feats into an innovative kung fu style.
Meanwhile, the Five battle with Tai Lung, but are defeated by his nerve attacks. He sends an uninjured though exhausted Crane to transport the rest of the Five, still paralysed from his nerve strikes, back to Shifu as a warning.
After reviving them, Shifu decides that Po is ready to receive the Dragon Scroll, but the scroll reveals nothing but a blank, reflective surface. Believing the scroll to be useless, Shifu orders Po and the Five to evacuate the valley while he faces Tai Lung. A distraught Po finds Mr. Ping. In an attempt to console his son, Mr. Ping reveals that the secret ingredient to his famous "special secret ingredient noodle soup" is "nothing", explaining that things are special when believed to be. Po realizes that this is the message of the Dragon Scroll and goes back to confront Tai Lung.
Po arrives to find Shifu badly injured and defeated despite putting up a good fight against Tai Lung. He then becomes a formidable challenge for Tai Lung, frustrating him with confusing fighting techniques on top of his excessive body fat that renders him immune to Tai Lung's nerve strikes. Tai Lung momentarily beats Po and retrieves the scroll, but he is unable to understand it and continues attacking Po. Eventually, Po defeats Tai Lung in combat by using the mysterious Wuxi Finger Hold to vanquish him.2 Po is praised by the Valley of Peace and earns the respect of the Furious Five, who fully acknowledge him as a true kung fu master.
- Jack Black as Po, an energetic yet accident-prone giant panda and die-hard kung fu fan.
- Ian McShane as Tai Lung, an aggressive snow leopard who was formerly Shifu's adoptive son and student.
- Dustin Hoffman as Master Shifu, an elderly and stern red panda and kung fu master to the Furious Five and Po.
- Randall Duk Kim as Grand Master Oogway, an ancient Galápagos tortoise and Shifu's mentor.
- Furious Five:
- Angelina Jolie as Master Tigress, a ruthless and ill-tempered South China tiger and leader of the Furious Five.
- Lucy Liu as Master Viper, a good-natured green tree viper.
- Jackie Chan as Master Monkey, an easygoing golden snub-nosed monkey.
- Seth Rogen as Master Mantis, a good-humored Chinese mantis.
- David Cross as Master Crane, a pragmatic and dry-humored red-crowned crane.
- James Hong as Mr. Ping, Po's adoptive father, a happy-go-lucky Chinese goose who runs a noodle restaurant.
- Dan Fogler as Zeng, a timid Chinese goose and Shifu's messenger.
- Michael Clarke Duncan as Commander Vachir, a hubristic and boastful Javan rhinoceros who is the warden of Chorh-Gom Prison, where Tai Lung is imprisoned.
In November 2005, DreamWorks Animation announced that Dustin Hoffman, Jackie Chan, Lucy Liu and Ian McShane would join Jack Black in the cast. This is also the second DreamWorks Animation film in which Black and Angelina Jolie have co-starred together, the first being 2004's Shark Tale.
The idea for the film was conceived by Michael Lachance, a DreamWorks Animation executive. Initially, the idea was to make it a spoof, but co-director John Stevenson was not particularly keen on it and instead chose the direction of a character-based wuxia comedy.
Reportedly inspired by Stephen Chow's 2004 martial arts action comedy film, Kung Fu Hustle, the co-directors wanted to make sure the film also had an authentic Chinese and kung fu feel to it. Production designer Raymond Zibach and art director Tang Heng spent years researching Chinese painting, sculpture, architecture and kung fu films to help create the look of the film. Zibach said some of the biggest influences for him are the more artful martial arts films such as Hero, House of Flying Daggers and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Stevenson's aim for the film, which took four years to make, was to make "the best looking film DreamWorks has ever made".
—Dan Wagner, Head of Character Animation.
The hand-drawn animation sequence at the beginning of the film was made to resemble Chinese shadow puppetry. The opening, which was directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson and produced by James Baxter, was praised by The New York Times reviewer Manohla Dargis as "striking" and "visually different from most mainstream American animations".
Other reviewers have compared the opening to the evocative style of Genndy Tartakovsky's Cartoon Network series Samurai Jack. The rest of the film is modern computer animation, which uses bright, offbeat colors to evoke the natural landscape of China. The end credit sequence also features hand-drawn characters and still paintings in the background.
The computer animation used throughout the film was more complex than anything DreamWorks had done before. When the head of production handed the script to VFX Supervisor Markus Manninen, she reportedly laughed and wished him "good luck". "When we started talking," said Manninen, "the movie was still a high concept. But for everyone that looked at it, it screamed complexity. We launched off saying, how can you make this movie tangible? How can you find smart ways to bring this world to life in a way that makes it a great movie and not feel like the complexity becomes the driver of the story, but the story and the emotion being the driver?" In preparation, the animators took a six-hour kung fu class.
Producer Melissa Cobb said that originally Po was "more of a jerk," but that the character changed after they heard Jack Black. According to Jack Black, he mostly worked "in isolation", although he and Dustin Hoffman did spend a day together, which Cobb said helped with the scene where their characters face off. Lucy Liu said that the film "was quite different because it was such a long process." Liu said that when she was presented with the project they already had artwork of her character as well as a "short computerized video version of what she would look like when she moved."
The film held its worldwide premiere at the 61st Cannes Film Festival on May 15, 2008, where it received massive and sustained applause at the end of the film's screening. Kung Fu Panda later had national premieres in the US on June 1, 2008 at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, and on June 26, 2008 at Leicester Square in London, for the UK.
Kung Fu Panda was released on DVD and Blu-ray on November 9, 2008, and on 3D Blu-ray on December 6, 2011 as a Best Buy exclusive. The DVD double pack release of Kung Fu Panda also includes a short animated film Secrets of the Furious Five. With 7,486,642 DVD units sold in 2008, Kung Fu Panda was the fourth highest-selling film and the first highest-selling animated film of 2008, right before WALL-E, which sold 7,413,548 units.
Rotten Tomatoes reported that 87% of 183 critics gave the film a positive review, with an average rating of 7.2/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Kung Fu Panda has a familiar message, but the pleasing mix of humor, swift martial arts action, and colorful animation makes for winning summer entertainment." Metacritic reported the film had an average score of 73 out of 100, based on 33 reviews. Audience gave the film an average A- grade on CinemaScore.
Richard Corliss of Time Magazine gave Kung Fu Panda a positive review, stating the picture "provides a master course in cunning visual art and ultra-satisfying entertainment". The New York Times said, "At once fuzzy-wuzzy and industrial strength, the tacky-sounding Kung Fu Panda is high concept with a heart," and the review called the film "consistently diverting" and "visually arresting". Chris Barsanti of Filmcritic.com commented, "Blazing across the screen with eye-popping, sublime artwork, Kung Fu Panda sets itself apart from the modern domestic animation trend with its sheer beauty ... the film enters instant classic status as some of the most gorgeous animation Hollywood has produced since the golden age of Disney." Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune called the film "one of the few comedies of 2008 in any style or genre that knows what it's doing". However, Tom Charity of CNN criticized the action for tending "to blur into a whirlwind of slapstick chaos" and considered the character of Po too similar to others played by Black. Peter Howell of The Toronto Star awarded the film two and a half stars, considering it to have a "lack of story" that "frequently manages to amuse, if not entirely to delight".
The film topped the box office in its opening weekend, grossing $60.2 million for a $14,642 average from 4,114 theaters and performing much better than analysts had been expecting. It also was the highest-grossing opening for a non-sequel DreamWorks Animation film at the time. In its second weekend, the film retreated 44% to second place behind The Incredible Hulk grossing $33.6 million for a $8,127 average from expanding to 4,136 theaters. It closed on October 9, 2008 after 125 days of release, grossing $215.4 million in the United States and Canada and $416.3 million overseas for a worldwide total of $631.7 million. Kung Fu Panda was the highest-grossing non-Shrek film from DreamWorks Animation in the United States and Canada, before being surpassed by How to Train Your Dragon in 2010.
Kung Fu Panda was also well received in China. It made nearly 110 million Yuan by July 2, 2008, becoming the first animated film to earn more than 100 million Yuan in China. The Chinese director Lu Chuan commented, "From a production standpoint, the movie is nearly perfect. Its American creators showed a very sincere attitude about Chinese culture." The film's critical and commercial success in China led to some local introspection about why no film like Kung Fu Panda had been produced in China, with commentators attributing the problem variously to lower film budgets in China, too much government oversight, a dearth of national imagination, and an overly reverent attitude to China's history and cultural icons.
Kung Fu Panda was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature and the Golden Globe Award for Best Animated Feature Film, but both awards were won by Pixar's WALL-E. Jack Black joked about his film's underdog status at the 81st Academy Awards, saying "Each year, I do one DreamWorks project, then I take all the money to the Oscars and bet it on Pixar."
By contrast, Kung Fu Panda won 10 Annie Awards (including Best Picture) out of 16 nominations, although this created controversy, with some accusing DreamWorks head Jeffrey Katzenberg of rigging the vote by buying ASIFA-Hollywood memberships (with voting power) for everyone at DreamWorks Animation.
|Academy Awards||Academy Award for Best Animated Feature||John Stevenson
|Annie Awards||Annie Award for Best Animated Effects in an Animated Production||Li-Ming 'Lawrence' Lee||Won|
|Annie Award for Best Animated Feature||Won|
|Annie Award for Best Character Animation in a Feature Production||James Baxter||Won|
|Philippe Le Brun||Nominated|
|Annie Award for Best Character Design in an Animated Feature Production||Nico Marlet||Won|
|Annie Award for Best Directing in an Animated Feature Production||John Stevenson
|Annie Award for Best Music in an Animated Feature Production||Hans Zimmer
|Annie Award for Production Design in an Animated Feature Production||Tang Kheng Heng||Won|
|Annie Award for Best Storyboarding in an Animated Feature Production||Jennifer Yuh Nelson||Won|
|Annie Award for Best Voice Acting in an Animated Feature Production||Dustin Hoffman||Won|
|Annie Award for Best Writing in an Animated Feature Production||Jonathan Aibel
|ASCAP Award||Top Box Office Films||Hans Zimmer and John Powell||Won|
|Critics' Choice Awards||Best Animated Feature||Nominated|
|Chicago Film Critics Association Awards||Best Animated Feature||Nominated|
|Golden Globe Awards||Golden Globe Award for Best Animated Feature Film||Nominated|
|Golden Tomato Awards 2008||Best Animated Feature||Kung Fu Panda||2nd Place|
|Wide Release||5th Place|
|Golden Reel Awards||Best Sound Editing: Sound Effects, Foley, Dialogue and ADR Animation in a Feature Film||Ethan Van Der Ryn
Adam Milo Smalley
Peter Oso Snell
|Golden Trailer Awards||Best Animation/Family||Nominated|
|Huabiao Awards||Outstanding Translated Film||Won|
|National Movie Awards||Best Family Film||Nominated|
|Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards||Favorite Voice from an Animated Movie||Jack Black||Won|
|Favorite Animated Movie||Nominated|
|Online Film Critics Society||Best Animated Film||Nominated|
|Producers Guild of America||Animated Motion Picture||Melissa Cobb||Nominated|
|People's Choice Awards||Favorite Family Movie||Nominated|
|Teen Choice Awards||Choice Summer Movie: Comedy||Nominated|
|Visual Effects Society||Outstanding Animated Character in an Animated Motion Picture||Jack Black
|Outstanding Animation in an Animated Motion Picture||Markus Manninen
|Outstanding Effects Animation in an Animated Motion Picture||Markus Manninen
Li-Ming 'Lawrence' Lee
|Kung Fu Panda|
|Soundtrack album by|
|Released||June 3, 2008|
The Underdogs (track 17)
As with most DreamWorks animated movies, composer Hans Zimmer scored Kung Fu Panda. Zimmer visited China to absorb the culture and got to know the Chinese National Symphony as part of his preparation; in addition, Timbaland also contributed to the soundtrack. The soundtrack also includes a partially rewritten version of the classic song, "Kung Fu Fighting", performed by Cee-Lo Green and Jack Black for the end credits. Furthermore, in some versions, the ending credit was sung by Rain. Although Zimmer was originally announced as the main composer of the film, during a test screening, CEO of DreamWorks Animation SKG Jeffrey Katzenberg announced that composer John Powell would also be contributing to the score. This marked the first collaboration in eight years for the two, who had previously worked together on DreamWorks' The Road to El Dorado and the action thriller Chill Factor. A soundtrack album was released by Interscope Records on June 3, 2008.
A sequel, Kung Fu Panda 2, was released on Thursday, May 26, 2011, to good reviews (Rotten Tomatoes rating of 81%). It was released in 3-D and was directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson (who directed the 2-D opening sequence of the first film) with the original cast returning. The story features a new villain with a mysterious weapon so powerful it threatens the existence of kung fu, and Po must additionally confront his past.
A second sequel, Kung Fu Panda 3 was announced as a co-production between DreamWorks Animation and Shanghai-based Oriental DreamWorks. Kung Fu Panda 3 was released on January 29, 2016. DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg has said that perhaps the series could see 3 more sequels after Kung Fu Panda 3, bringing it to a six-film series.
A television series titled Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness aired on Nickelodeon with its premiere on September 19, 2011. From the cast of Kung Fu Panda, only Lucy Liu and James Hong reprised their roles, of Master Viper and Mr. Ping respectively. In the series, Po continues to defend the Valley of Peace from all kinds of villains, while making mistakes, learning about the history of kung fu, and meeting other kung fu masters. In the United States, the series ended its run on June 29, 2016, with a total of three seasons and 80 episodes. However, prior to premiering in the U.S., the final few episodes first premiered in Germany from December 30, 2014 to January 7, 2015.
Kung Fu Panda: The Paws of Destiny is an animated web television series produced by DreamWorks Animation released for Amazon Prime on November 16, 2018. It is the second TV series in the Kung Fu Panda franchise following Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness. Developer Mitch Watson has confirmed that Mick Wingert will reprise his role from Legends of Awesomeness as Po.
A video game adaptation of the film was published by Activision on June 3, 2008. The game was released for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii, PlayStation 2, Nintendo DS and PC platforms. The plot follows the same basic plot as the film, but with Tai Lung portrayed as the leader of various gangs that surround the Valley of Peace, which Po, who possesses some basic martial art skills which can be upgraded as the game progresses, must defeat. The game was released on Microsoft Windows, as well as multiple consoles. However the Windows version has been discontinued. The game received mostly positive reviews; it scored a Metacritic rating of 76% from critics and a 7.5 out of 10 from IGN. In 2009, it won the International Animated Film Society's Annie Award for Best Animated Video Game, "in recognition of creative excellence in the art of animation."
DreamWorks Animation was sued in 2011 by a writer, Terence Dunn, for allegedly stealing the idea for Kung Fu Panda from him. Dunn alleged that DreamWorks Animation had stolen his pitch for a "spiritual kung-fu fighting panda bear" which he sent to a DreamWorks executive in 2001. DreamWorks Animation denied any wrongdoing and after a two-week trial the jurors found in favor of DreamWorks.
In 2011, another lawsuit was brought against the studio by an illustrator named Jayme Gordon. Gordon had created characters under the name "Kung Fu Panda Power" and registered them with the U.S. Copyright Office in 2000. He had pitched this concept work to Disney while Jeffrey Katzenberg, who later left Disney and formed DreamWorks Animation in 1994, was working there. Gordon withdrew his claim just before the trial was due to take place. On December 20, 2015, federal prosecutors charged Gordon with four counts of wire fraud and three counts of perjury for allegedly fabricating and backdating drawings to support the claims in his lawsuit, and for allegedly tracing some of his drawings from a Disney Lion King coloring book. On November 18, 2016, Gordon was convicted for wire fraud and perjury, facing a sentence of up to 25 years in prison. In May 2017, he was sentenced to two years in federal prison and ordered to pay $3 million in restitution.
- ^ In July 2014, the film's distribution rights were purchased by DreamWorks Animation from Paramount Pictures and transferred to 20th Century Fox before reverting to Universal Studios in 2018.
- ^ In Kung Fu Panda 3, it is revealed that using the Wuxi Finger Hold transports the opponent to the Spirit Realm.
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