Jennifer Yuh Nelson
Tang Kheng Heng
feature film title seqeunce
Director Jen Yuh Nelson and producer Melissa Cobb invited Shine back to help with the title sequence for Kung Fu Panda 2. Nelson’s direction included designing and animating in the visual style of Chinese shadow puppets. Hollywood Reporter critic Todd McCarthy said, “Hans Zimmer’s score is an energetic plus, but the film’s single most striking feature are the end credits, which employ a beautifully designed flipping lantern technique accompanied by wittily ever-accelerating music.”
Now known as the Dragon Warrior, Po protects the Valley of Peace alongside his friends and fellow kung fu masters, the Furious Five. However, a dangerous villain threatens Po’s awesome new life with plans to use a secret weapon to wipe out the martial art and conquer China. In order to defeat the new enemy, Po finds he must recall his past and unlock secrets of his mysterious origins; only then will he find the strength to vanquish his foe.
An opening prologue set years before the events of the first film tells that Lord Shen, the scion of a peacock clan that rules Gongmen City in ancient China, seeks to harness fireworks as a weapon. After discovering from the court’s goat Soothsayer that “a warrior of black-and-white” will defeat him if he does not change his ways, Shen leads an army of wolves to exterminate the panda population to avert the prophecy. Shen’s parents are horrified at this atrocity and exile their son, who swears revenge.
In the present day, Po is living his dream as the Dragon Warrior, protecting the Valley of Peace alongside his friends and fellow kung fu masters, the Furious Five. His teacher Shifu tells him, however, that he has yet to achieve inner peace. While defending a village from wolf bandits who have been stealing refined metal for Shen, Po is distracted by a symbol on the wolf leader’s armor, which causes Po to have a flashback of his mother and allows the wolves to escape. Po asks his goose father, Mr. Ping, about his origins. Ping reveals that he found Po as an infant in a radish crate and adopted him, but Po remains unsatisfied, wondering how and why he wound up in the Valley of Peace to begin with.
Shine took inspiration from the art of shadow puppetry, an ancient form of storytelling and entertainment which uses flat articulated figures to create cut-out figures which are held between a source of light and a translucent screen or scrim.
The cut-out shapes of the puppets sometimes include translucent color or other types of detailing. Various effects can be achieved by moving both the puppets and the light source. A talented puppeteer can make the figures appear to walk, dance, fight, nod and laugh.
by Todd McCarthy
The Hollywood Reporter