Connections to Daoism
When Po finds out he has to defeat the villain Shen, he originally have a plan on what he and his friends are going to do. His friend, Tiggris, asks po what the plan is, but he says he doesn’t have one and instead decides to come up with a plan as he goes along. Po’s simple mindedness is beneficial because it gives him more wisdom opposed to overthinking it. In the end, he ends up defeating Shen even without having a plan beforehand, like everyone else thought he needed.
Throughout his journey to find Shen, Po was having frequent visions that seemed to be connected to his past. They are mysterious and he doesn’t know what they mean and can sometimes be scary. When he gets them, his concious gets the better of him and the vision ends. However, when Po is at a critical point in his life, he follows wu wei and releases all worries to allow the memories to flow so he can finally learn the secrets of his childhood. Once he finally lets go, he uses his new knowledge to defeat Shen.
In the beginning of the movie, Po sees Master Shifu moving water from a leaf to the river and he tells Po he did it using his inner peace to work with nature. Since then, Po looks for ways to find his inner peace, believing there is one specific way to accomplish this. However, as he continues with his journey, Po discovers more about himself, and that leads to him finding his own inner peace. When it is time for him to go up against the villain Shen, Po uses this newfound peace to defeat him. When Shen shoots fire at him, Po is finds a way to capture it and throw it back to destroy the weapon. Without first finding his inner peace and learning how to return to nature, Po would not have been able to save kung fu.
Throughout the movie, the Yin and Yang symbol appears several times, representing that all things exist as inseparable and contradictory opposites. One place is when it is showing background stories of Po’s childhood, like after he was born. It is also evident in the colors of Po’s fur, the black representing the Yin, and the white representing the Yang. These symbols show that Po is a powerful warrior, but also has inner peace.
Connections to Confucianism
When Po first finds out that the villain Shen has created a weapon to destroy China, people turn to Po to stop him, and Po agrees without hesitation. However, his dad is very worried about him and begs him to stay for fear of Po getting hurt and never returning. Despite his dad’s wishes, Po goes to find Shen because he is fulfilling his job of being the Dragon Warrior. As the ultimate warrior, Po is viewed as a junzi and knows that it is important to do what is expected of him in order to be the perfect leader.
Po goes on his adventures with his five great friends: Tigress, Monkey, Mantis, Crane, and Viper. These friends help him to defeat the villain Shen. Like in the Five Great Realtionships, Po has a great friend-on-friend relationship with all of them. One way they are such great friends is how supportive they are of each other. For example, when Po was having trouble getting to Shen, Tigress wanted him to stay so he would not get in danger. However, when he told her that it was important for him to go to Shen so he could learn about his childhood, Tigress was understanding and let him go along. Po loves that they always have each other’s backs.
A future eighth grader should choose this experience because it was a very new and interesting way to explore the different concepts of Daoism and Confucianism. Many people might think that a kid's cartoon movie will not tell much about important Chinese religions, but Kung Fu Panda 2 is not only fun, it explores the religions in creative ways. Instead of just reading about something, seeing it in the simplest ways makes it easier to understand what might usually be more complex. The best part is how good the movie is, combining comedy and excitement with important lessons.