China Living Color Kung fu pAnda II

For my second trimester living color, I watched Kung Fu Panda 2. It was a fun cg animated film about a panda, Po, who through the power of friendship and inner peace, finds who what his place is in the world. The film follows Po as he travels all over China with his five friends, meeting powerful and wise allies, and willy, misguided foes. Shen, a peacock, is a prince of a Chinese city, and through a tragic backstory, now wants China to bend to him. Soon after, Po and the furious five are sent out to defeat this evil. However, Po is distracted and occupied with the fact that he just learned that he was adopted. He is brimming with questions about who he really is and what his place in the world is. This leads to epic battles over the peace of China between the two opposing forces - Po and Shen. Which side prevails in the end, well, you’ll just have to watch to find out!

Daoism

There are several connections to daoism throughout the film. Throughout the entire movie, the advice of all the learned masters is to “not force it, but just let it flow.” In the beginning, Master Shi Fu advises Po to learn inner peace, for it is the only way he will be able to find himself and defeat evil. This connects to daoism because it is central in that religion that one must flow with the force of the universe. Rather than decisively acting upon something in life, daoists see that it is preferable to have passive action. This is what Po needs to do - just let if flow, and once you have peace, you’ll be able to understand. Daoists liken it to a river - a river doesn’t choose to run or forces itself to run - it just does. Just like the stream, one must be able to keep in touch with the universe and flow with it. To do this, daoists say to follow the Dao. The dao is the “road” or “way” of life. It is the way to one’s self, and it underlies all of nature - just what Po must do.

Po and Master Shi Fu finding inner peace. They are centering themselves in their inner thoughts and the way of the universe.

Wu Wei  - As aforementioned, Po is to find inner peace. He is to do this through passive action - not to force it, but let it happen to him. When Po says that to become a better Kung Fu Master he wants to “get things done,” Master Shi Fu responds by teaching Po that the true path to becoming harmonious is inner peace. “Every master must find his path to inner peace.” One must be able to “harness the flow of the universe.” In addition, it is in Po’s very nature to Po’s nature is to “go with the flow” - he doesn’t really make plans, but rather relies on instinct to get him to where he wants. This is the very picture of the quintessential daoist

Dao - Throughout the movie, it is a big underlying theme that there is a “path” or “way” to the universe. This is also the core concept of Daoism. For example, when Shen tries to rebel against his fate, he only plays into the hands of the universe. The dao is inevitable.

Ying and Yang - In the beginning of the movie, Shen found a way to weaponize fireworks, which were supposed to be used for beauty and enjoyment. It is two sides of the same coin - or yin and yang.

Shen's character represents Yin and Yang - there are two sides to every coin.

Confucianism

An example of Confucianism in Kung Fu Panda is the blatant focus on ancestry. Confucianism centers itself over ancestor worship, and that is reflected in the movie. The movie places great emphasis on “finding oneself” and ancestry. Most of Po’s character arc is centered around his past, and who his family was.

Po and his adoptive father

Connection to culture

The movie also features lots of chinese culture, showing traditional villages and temples. It illustrates the importance of ancestors in chinese culture. In addition, the color themes of red and gold were very prominent in the movie, which in traditional china, are the colors for prosperity and happiness.

An ancient China cityscape from Kung Fu Panda

Reviews for Kung Fu Panda II

“There are so many ways that this sequel could have gone wrong, but instead it's one of the best sequels to grace the screen in a while, fully able to stand on its own” - Common Sense Media
“A panda's work is never done. Just three years ago, Po saved all of China. Now he's gotta do it again—this time from a peacock with some serious firepower.” - Plugged In
"In that case, "Kung Fu Panda 2" plunks down squarely in the spot marked for "chop-socky action with heart." - New York Daily News

In conclusion, Kung Fu Panda II was a heartwarming film about friends and finding oneself, with plenty ancient china connections sandwiched in between. Throughout the story, meet interesting characters with humorous dynamics, and enjoy laughing at Po’s antics. The blatant connection to chinese culture gives more depth to the film. Watch the wholesome family movie to follow Po’s journey across ancient China to save the future of Kung Fu.

All photos used were screencaps from Kung Fu Panda II

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