For my Living Color China project, I watched the movie Kung Fu Panda 2, and I loved it. Though filled with action and humor, this movie was still able to tell a beautiful, touching story. However, Kung Fu Panda 2 is more than a great family movie: It reaches deeper into the lasting legacy of ancient Chinese tradition. Throughout the movie, there were many references to Chinese philosophies, their values, and how they reflect on today's society.
These Chinese philosophies, such as Taoism and Confucianism, are the main driving forces throughout the plot. They are the reason why Po, a Chinese Kung Fu fighting Panda, is so strong, why learning about who his parents were was so important to him, and even why Shen, the evil peacock master, met his demise.
Towards the begging of the movie, we find a scene in which the Kung Fu master, Master Shifu, is in deep meditation. Inside of a cave, he surrounds himself only by nature, getting rid of any distractions, repeating the phrase "inner peace". When Po shows up, he sees him and asks what he's doing. Shifu tells him that he's practicing one of Master Oogway's final teachings, then stands up and is able move a falling drop of water without touching it and keep it completely intact. When Po asks how he was able to do that, he said that it was because he found inner peace. This is a very Taoist concept that is exhibited by Master Shifu. This is because a large part of the Taoist philosophy is about reconnecting yourself with nature as well as connecting with yourself. Shifu does this through meditation in the cave to get closer to nature and the peace within him.
Later on in the movie there is another prominent reference to the traditional Chinese philosophy of Confucianism. This is first shown when Po is talking to his father about who his real parents were through the importance of ancestors and more specifically, parents. Confucianists find great importance in human interaction and relations, such as the 5 great relationships, 5 sacred relationships between two people, but this is especially important with parents. Another Confucian concept this shows is the desire for knowledge and that greatness can be achieved through education. These two reasons show why knowing who his real parents are is so important to Po.
Towards the end of the story the evil peacock master, Master Shen, builds a giant weapon to try to take over all of China. With this weapon he tries to take over China and control people. However, this is not consistent with Taoist belief. Taoism believes in the concept of Tao, an ever flowing force of time. It is the path that everything, both tangible and not, will follow. The Taoist aspect of Wu Wei, says to connect with this path and allow it flow. In this instance, Shen does not do this though. By trying to use his weapon to control what he wasn't meant to and therefore obstructing the Tao. In Taoism, there is also the belief that everything will eventually balance out. In this case, this means that Shen was eventually killed.
For these reasons and many others, the movie, Kung Fu Panda 2, is a great example for applications of Chinese philosophies like Confucianism and Taoism in today's world. This movie shows the lasting legacy of ancient China on the present time.