Kung Fu Panda 2, although very popular, is a movie that I had never got around to watch before this Living Color Project was assigned. After watching the movie, I was captivated by the plot, especially due to my prior knowledge of Taoism. I believe that had I not been knowledgeable of Taoist beliefs, the experience would not have been as great. Kung Fu Panda 2 was a great way for me to see Taoist values applied in actions. In other words, watching this movie has brought these values "to life" for me. In addition, not only did I find Taoist values in the characters' actions, but also in the identity of the characters. I realized that Taoists beliefs were "embedded" in these characters from the beginning of their existence. Their physical characteristics represented the Taoist principles.
The movie, Kung Fu Panda 2 revolves around Po, a panda who is also known as the Dragon Warrior, and his journey of finding inner peace. On this journey, he faces conflict with his enemies, but also himself. Lord Shen, the evil scion of the peacock clan, returns to Gongmen City after 12 years of exile. He was banished due to his choice to exterminate the entire panda population after the fortune-teller, Soothsayer tells him that a panda is to defeat him. When Lord Shen returns, he causes chaos. Master Shifu receives word that Shen has returned to Gongmen City and killed Thundering Rhino, the leader of the kung fu council protecting the City, and is plotting to destroy kung fu tradition and conquer China with his newly developed weapon. Thus, Po and his comrades travel to Gongmen City in order to defeat Shen. Meanwhile, Po realizes that his father is not his real parent and wants to know the truth about his origin. When confronting Shen and defeating him, he learns about what had happened to his family only after he discovers inner peace.
Throughout the movie, Taoist principles can be seen and is referred to various times. The most frequently implied Taoist principle is wu wei which the act of not-doing in order for the universe to take its natural course. It is believed by Taoists that if one interferes with the natural course of the world, the result will be the creation of chaos. In addition, one must follow wu wei in order to become one with the Tao with can be seen as a path for Taoists to follow. For example, when Lord Shen finds out for the fortune-teller that he is destined to be defeated by "a warrior of black and white", referring a panda, he tries to go against the principle of wu wei and orders his army of wolves to exterminate the entire panda population. When he interferes with his destiny, Shen's parents banish him from Gongmen City, leaving him angry and thirsty for revenge. This begins the chaos that is conveyed in the movie. In addition, it is clear why the writers of the movie has chosen a panda to be the Dragon Warrior. A panda is black and white, which represent Yin and Yang. Yin and Yang are the two complementary forces that make up all aspects and phenomena of life. This principle is that all things exist as inseparable and contradictory opposites and complement each other, creating harmony. Thus, representing balance in life, Po is the perfect embodiment of Yin and Yang. He is chosen to be the Dragon Warrior because of this embodiment which clearly connects with his duty of bringing peace and balance to society.
The fortune-teller Soothsayer predicts that Shen is to be defeated by "a warrior of black and white". (Screenshot taken by Shreya S.)
Po is an embodiment of Yin and Yang as he creates the symbol with the art of kung fu. (Screenshot taken by Shreya S.)
In addition, characters in the story demonstrate wu wei and takes it as part of their value. For example, Lord Shen, after killing Thundering Rhino, puts warriors such as Storming Ox and Croc in prison to prevent them from retaliating. When Po arrives in Gongmen City and tries to free them, they surprisingly refuse to come out of captivity. This does not seem logical to Po. However, Storming Ox explains that if they do not go with the flow and interfere with Shen' doings it will cause greater chaos. Standing in Shen's way would only provoke him to harm the innocent people of Gongmen City. Thus, they exemplify that disobeying wu wei will inevitably cause chaos.
Po is confused as to how Storming Ox and Croc are protecting Gongmen City by not fighting against Shen. (Screenshot taken by Shreya S.)
Storming Ox and Croc believe that if they interfere with Shen's plans, he will turn against the innocent people of the city. (Screenshot taken by Shreya S.)
Wu wei appears to be a source of conflict for the main character, Po, in the movie. He continuously struggles to follow wu wei which makes it difficult for him to master the art of inner peace, taught by Master Shifu. For example, in the beginning of the story Po finds out that he is adopted. Thus, he asks Mr. Ping, his father about his past and origin. He is sadly turned away as Mr. Ping does not know. This causes Po to isolate himself from his father and throw himself into an emotional state of inner conflict. Because he tries so hard and stresses himself out to remember his past, he has a hard time discovering the truth behind his existence and his real parents. Every time Po has a flash black of his parents, he overthinks causing the vision to fade away. Overthinking is a sign that Po fails to follow wu wei. He only does this when the Soothsayer tells him to peacefully let the vision flow and Po uses Master Shifu's teaching of inner peace to help him. Po has to try not to interfere with his visions and "let it flow" according to the Soothsayer. He has final vision that informs him about his parents' deaths and the evil deed of Shen. At one point, Po even tells Shen to let go of the past and accept his fate. In addition to that, after defeating Shen, he no longer feels conflicted about the fact that he is adopted and rebuilds his relationship with his father. In addition to this, when Po and his comrades sneak into Gongmen City, he does not have a solid plan to defeat Shen. However, keeps on emphasizing that he is "going with the flow" which shows Po's success in following wu wei. This leads him to entering Shen's residence and the prison where Storming Ox and Croc are captivated. Thus, following wu wei has made Po into the ideal Taoist and a great Dragon Warrior!
Po struggles to master the art of inner peace. (Screenshot taken by Shreya S.)
The Soothsayer tells Po not to fight his visions and let it come to him. (Screenshot by Shreya S.)
Po uses Master Shifu's teaching of inner peace to accept the vision that appears in his mind
Po tells Lord Shen to let go of the past. (Screenshot taken by Shreya S.)
Po has mastered inner peace and accepts that he is adopted. (Screenshot taken by Shreya S.)