Jen Yuh Nelson
Tang Kheng Heng
main title sequence for Dreamworks AnimationDirector Mark Osborne said, “Working with Shine was an incredible experience for us. They created such a richly textured and strikingly beautiful ending to our movie that exceeded our expectations in every way.”
“I wanted us to have an end credits sequence as beautiful and richly designed as the rest of our movie. The work Shine produced for us remains one of the highlights of the film for me, and never fails to make me smile,” said director John Stevenson.
Po the panda (Jack Black) works in his family’s noodle shop and dreams of becoming a kung-fu master. His dream becomes a reality when, unexpectedly, he must fulfill an ancient prophecy and study the skills with his idols, the Furious Five. Po needs all the wisdom, strength and ability he can muster to protect his people from an evil snow leopard.
The story is set in the Valley of Peace, a fictional land in ancient China inhabited by anthropomorphic animals. Po, a giant panda, is a kung fu fanatic who idolizes the Furious Five — Tigress, Monkey, Mantis, Viper, and Crane — a quintet of kung fu masters trained by the red panda Master Shifu. As he helps his goose father Mr. Ping in his noodle restaurant, Po is unable to pursue his dream of becoming a kung fu master himself. Grand Master Oogway, an old tortoise and Shifu’s mentor, has a vision that Shifu’s adoptive son and former student, the evil snow leopard Tai Lung, will escape from prison and return to the Valley of Peace to take revenge for being denied the Dragon Scroll, which is said to hold the secret to limitless power.
Shifu is alarmed and sends his messenger, the goose Zeng, to prevent Tai Lung’s escape. He then holds a kung fu tournament for the Furious Five so that Oogway may identify the Dragon Warrior, the one kung fu master worthy of receiving the Dragon Scroll and capable of defeating Tai Lung. Forced to take a cumbersome noodle cart to the tournament, Po arrives as the arena doors close and is unable to enter. Desperate to see the Dragon Warrior chosen, Po straps himself to a set of fireworks, rockets into the sky, and crashes into the middle of the arena and opens his eyes to see Oogway pointing his finger at him. To everyone’s surprise, Oogway proclaims Po as the Dragon Warrior, much to the Furious Five’s dismay.
Many paintings and illustrations created by the production design team were incorporated into the end credits. The animation style loosely referenced a horizontal Chinese scroll.
Believing Oogway’s decision to be an accident, Shifu tries to get rid of Po by ridiculing him into quitting kung fu training coupled with a torturous training regime. The Furious Five similarly despise and mock Po as an upstart with no skill in kung fu. After receiving encouragement from Oogway, however, Po endures his grueling training and slowly begins to befriend the Five with his tenacity, culinary skill, and good humor.
Meanwhile, Tai Lung escapes from prison as foreseen by Oogway, ironically picking his locks with one of Zeng’s feathers. Shifu learns of Tai Lung’s escape and informs Oogway, who extracts a promise from Shifu to believe in Po and then ascends to the sky in a cloud of peach blossoms. Still unable to grasp the basics of kung fu, Po despairingly admits that he has no chance of defeating Tai Lung. Shifu, however, discovers that Po is capable of impressive physical feats when motivated by food. Using food as positive reinforcement, Shifu successfully trains Po to incorporate these feats into an effective kung fu style.
Po becomes a formidable challenge for Tai Lung as he tries to protect the Dragon Scroll, using his unorthodox fighting style to confuse his opponent and his body fat to block his nerve strikes. Tai Lung momentarily bests Po and retrieves the scroll, but is unable to understand or accept its symbolic meaning. Po ultimately defeats him using the mysterious Wuxi Finger Hold. Po is praised by the Valley of Peace and earns the respect of all the Furious Five, who fully acknowledge him as a true kung fu master. Po then finds Shifu, who finally attains inner peace with the valley safe once more.
by Debra Kaufman
HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON