Same film, different realization: for the longest time, I wondered how it was that Tai Lung could have remained muscular, strong, and perfectly masterful in his kung fu skills after being trapped in a paralyzing tortoise shell for twenty years. His muscles should have atrophied, and he should have been out of shape or rusty at the very least, yet it was lampshaded by Shifu that he had in fact gotten stronger. But then I recalled what the shell was explicitly stated to do: draw all of the snow leopard's chi to the pressure points being stimulated. If you assume chi to be one's life force, as it is generally believed to be, then it wouldn't be too difficult to imagine that trapping it in one place would also arrest the body's metabolism. Thus, no atrophying, thus Tai Lung staying in peak physical condition and at the height of his kung fu skills. It might even explain how he actually got stronger, by concentrating his power. (And even suggests he didn't physically age!) This of course doesn't explain other questions which were raised by Tai Lung's imprisonment (how was he able to relieve himself? How did he eat? Why was his fur so clean and soft-looking after twenty years??). But it's otherwise a brilliant stroke, I think. —Ingonyama
Theoretically, if his metabolism has stopped he wouldn't need to eat, and thus not need to go to the restroom either. That just leaves the cleanliness issue. Maybe the rhinos dump a bucket of water on him every so often so that he doesn't attract bugs or mold.
It's a reference to one of the signs of chi mastery/enlightenment - being able to sustain yourself on only your chi (or alternatively, your chi is more than enough to sustain yourself) because you are above mortal needs and desires. You've become something of a spiritual being. That's why Po's initial training ended with him claiming he was not hungry.
This means that Tigress wasn't being snooty when she made that 'energy of the universe line'. She was serious; a kung fu master really can become The Needless.
I was always upset by Tai Lung's flat-out willingness to kill Shifu, his own father who had loved him, just because he couldn't give him the Dragon Scroll. Not much of a motive to kill your father, right? But then, realizing another scene where Tigress says that Oogway refused him the scroll because he saw darkness in his heart. If that's what Oogway had said to Shifu, I can't imagine how any kid would feel after his own father would believe something like that just because the Wise Mentor said it. Which could have been the reason Tai Lung never forgave Shifu, even after Shifu had said how proud he was of him during their showdown. He turned to evil because he was upset that his father quickly believed that he could be evil. It's an interesting paradox. - Aurum-Femina
During the flashback where a young Tigress is very sad that she is unable to impress her master, Shifu, I thought she was being a bit too melodramatic. It's just a grouchy teacher, right? She can go home and complain about it to her parents later, right? In the half-hour special Secrets of the Furious Five, Tigress is revealed to have been adopted by Shifu when she was a cub. And looking back to the film, it does make sense, and wasn't just some history added on later. Gives new meaning to when she says "Shifu had loved him (Tai Lung) like he had never loved anyone before...or since." And shows a flashback with her attempting Kung Fu to hope Shifu would be proud of her abilities, only to have him bitterly correct her stance while looking like he wasn't even paying attention. This scene now qualifies as a big Tear Jerker. The fact that the film didn't push on the fact that she was adopted also gave a stroke of brilliance to its subtlety. - Aurum-Femina
The film, though it did not flat out say it, heavily implied that Tigress was adopted in the same way Tai-Lung was. The fact that she said "or since" immediately before showing her training with him; the many similarities between her brief training scene and Tai-Lung's (other than, obviously, Shifu's reaction); the fact that she was so young and being trained; and, most of all, the look on Tigress' face after Shifu corrects her. All of these things made this troper assume that Shifu had adopted Tigress.
Like many other tropers, I was sympathetic towards Tai Lung and wondered exactly why he was the villain of the piece. I kind of wished the writers had made the story about his redemption, as opposed to Po's hero's journey. Later on, I finally realised how much the characters are created by their own interpersonal relationships. When Shifu found, raised and trained Tai Lung, the reason his adoptive son turned evil was because Shifu had allowed him to much lenience. As the foster son of a Kung Fu master, the young leopard was giving too much leeway - he could make mistakes and would still be praised for it, simply because Shifu was too soft on him. As a result, Tai Lung grew up into a spoiled, arrogant individual who had utter confidence in himself and his abilities. He would always think highly of himself and because Shifu hadn't raised him with a moral compass, he firmly believed himself to be in the right. Oogway refused him the Dragon Scroll not because he was already evil, but because he knew that Tai Lung was too flawed - if he didn't understand the scroll, he could lose his temper; worse, if he ever DID understand it, his ego would grow to the point that he'd put himself on a pedestal above all other beings. What's the chance that such a person could end up not only fighting evil, but KILLING - first giving himself leeway with killing villains, and the arguing that he can sacrifice a few to save the many. That is the reason Tai Lung wasn't given the scroll. As for why Po, of all people, truly earned the scroll and became the Dragon Warrior ...
... it was because Po, unlike Tai Lung, could interpret the scroll and come to terms with it.
Oogway warns Shifu that Tai Long will return, chooses Po as the Dragon Warrior knowing the intense difficulty that will be involved with training him, then departs leaving Shifu to train Po on his own. Thing is, the only reason Tai Lung escapes in the first place is because Shifu sends someone to check and make sure his prison is secure, which he does in response to Oogway's warning. If he was really prophetic, Oogway would have known that his warning would set in action that resulted in Tai Lung's release and subsequent defeat, and went along with it because he knew said chain of events would bring Shifu the closure and peace he's been denied for years. Which means Oogway plays a mean game of Gambit Roulette.
Immediately after he tells Shifu about his vision and Shifu sends Zeng to the prison, Oogway turns away and mutters "One often meets his destiny on the road he takes to avoid it". He did know all along!
And as for why he would do this after Tai Long has been imprisoned for 20 years? Simple. He knew he was dying soon. He couldn't leave his successor as an emotional wreck. Shifu may have been a great teacher of Kung Fu, but was hardly the serene mentor and philosopher that Oogway was. Their differences in worldview become quite clear during the conversation by the peach tree. Oogway's time was up, so he set this chain of events into motion to make sure that the wisdom of Kung Fu would survive after was gone, not simply the techniques.
Indeed, much of Oogway's actions can be summed up by him attempting to teach the lesson of the scroll to the people around him and his own struggle to truly understand what the meaning of the scroll means for him. The peach tree was a two-part lesson - one, to try to teach Shifu that there are things you can change and things you can not change and it is wisdom to see the difference between these things and accept them/act upon them; it was also to try to show Shifu that the wisdom necessary to truly become Oogway's successor was already there... but Shifu, like Tai Lung, was looking for approval and some special 'moment' where 'ah ha!' he is now at this next level and could then allow Oogway to pass on. Oogway for his part understood at that point that in order for his successor to truly succeed him before his departure, he had to depart - that the power and ability to teach within Shifu as capable as Oogway believed was not within himself (Oogway) but within Shifu. And he realized he could not change that, not with any real amount of talking... so he moved on and understood that by doing so, this was how he could induce that change. Note that moments after this scene, Shifu has a minor epiphany on how to train Po... and this epiphany is basically the message of the Dragon scroll (the ability of Po as student and Shifu as master were already inside of them, they just needed to understand and see how).
Also, recall Shifu's lines when he's "sparring" with Po toward the beginning. Among them is that a true warrior takes his opponents strength and uses it against him. Now, remembering that, watch the final fight again, particularly the blows that Tai Lung actually lands on Po: His first attack makes Po bounce across the room and back, slamming Tai Lung. Later, Po throws him through a building with the recoil of his own strike. Most of the solid hits Po lands are a direct result of Tai Lung's own strength. Tai Lung, however, fails to realize this, and his own attacks end up doing him more harm than his opponent.
Most notably demonstrated in Tai Lung's final attack — he leaps at Po, bounces off Po's stomach, then gets launched into the stratosphere and crashes back down to Earth twenty seconds later...
I always wonder why people believe that the reason for Tai Lung's Face-Heel Turn was Shifu being too lenient to him. Just because Master Tigress thinks that Tai Lung got love and affection that were denied her (because Shifu apparently thought that his - genuine - parental love needs not to be actually, you know, expressed)? Heh. See what Tai Lung's name means in the first place and think about what Shifu actually meant when he named his adopted son thusly. See how badly Shifu treats every pupil who disappoints him (which is obviously easy). Look at Shifu seeing his own reflection on the sword after Tai Lung's "Not your fault?!?" speech. No, Tai Lung's chief problem was not being spoiled (although he indeed learned all too well that a person's worth is measured by his/her kung fu skills, leaving him with a massive sense of entitlement once he felt that his kung fu is the best ever). Tai Lung's chief problem was that he was raised with the explicit purpose of becoming the Dragon Warrior his entire life and felt that his father's love and approval are entirely hinged on his success in that (and as far as we can tell Shifu didn't bother to reassure him otherwise after Oogway denied him the Dragon Scroll).
That does bring up an interesting aspect that a non-adopted child might not think about. You live your life in fear and doubt. If I'm bad, will he just send me back to the orphanage? We're not blood related. Does he love me as a father loves a son or as a teacher loves a student? Does he even care. You strive to earn the love you already have, sometimes to an unhealthy level.
Really, an adopted child shouldn't ever have to feel that way. Po certainly didn't, though I'm not quite sure whether or not he completely realized he was adopted until the relevant scene in Kung Fu Panda 2. Shifu really messed up with Tia Lung and almost did worse by Tigress.
The above also raises another thing. Po was the only one of the choices not actively seeking to become Dragon Warrior. All he wanted was to learn Kung Fu because he truly loved it. Tai Lung and Shifu, and probably Tigress to some degree as well, all wanted to become the Dragon Warrior as their ultimate goal and had nothing beyond that. Po was the only one who had a different goal that could live beyond that. Po was the only one with the mindset to realize the truth of the Dragon Scroll and be able to do something with it because he hadn't tried to obtain it in the first place, instead of being horribly disappointed at working their entire life only to receive a piece of reflective foil for all that hard work and having wasted their life. Oogway picked Po because he could make being the Dragon Warrior a part of his life, as opposed to all of it.
Same can be said of the other Five - they believed Tigress would be the Dragon Warrior so they never had that detachment from it to understand that they aren't defined by that one position. That sometimes, it's the non-pursuit of something that allows you to find it (often something that happens in tales about enlightenment).
I just realized something about the movie even though its been out for years. The reason why Oogway refuses Tai Lung wasn't just because he sensed Tai Lung had darkness inside of him, its because he wouldn't have understood what it meant. Tai Lung raged to Shifu about his training about how he worked until his bones broke to make him proud. That means that his entire life he worked hard just so his father figure would be proud of him. He couldn't have understood the scroll the message of which is that it's okay to be yourself if he lived his life for another person.
Indeed. Tai Lung had been trained and believed that to be special - to find that inner power - required some special outside 'thing'. Shifu did as well. So while Tai Lung got the special part down, he felt he needed this external validation to be 'more'.
What I saw in the movie, the point when Tai Lung really snaps is when Shifu tells him that he is still proud of Tai Lung. Until that point he was angrily and hurtfully taunting Shifu about what Shifu's training did to him. It was because for all that time he was angry at his father, over a decade of rage at someone who he never realized felt bad for putting him through that hell. When Shifu tells him that he's still proud of his son that makes all the hatred that Tai Lung counted on worthless which means that his prison life had just been a waste. Tai Lung being a martial artist knows that wasted time is a terrible thing and it causes him to completely snap.
I just realised, Oogway never said there was 'evil' in Tai Lung, just 'darkness'. 'Darkness' like his arrogance and over confidence that generally made him act like a jerkass. Now imagine someone like that with the power of the Dragon Scroll (although, as pointed out above, several times, he wouldn't understand it). Tai Lung was the one who turned his inner darkness into straight evil.
While it's been mentioned that Tai Lung is guilty of filial impiety, making him more perfect as a Confucionist villain, it was only some time after finishing the film that I realized that this is also what makes Shifu a Confucionist hero— Tai Lung rages that Shifu's sin was saying nothing in his defense when Oogway denied him the Dragon Scroll, but from the Confucionist standpoint, Shifu was in the right by not defying his own master. Admittedly, this falls apart a bit at the top of the chain, where Oogway is clearly a mentor in the Taoist tradition.
While probably not intentional, Lord Shen's colour motif marks well his status as a villain in an East Asian setting, as well as firmly a Light Is Not Good character. White is the colour of death, which fits closely with his health issues, while red is associated with both blood (obviously), but also with the Vermillion Bird, who associated with fire and positive emotions (all he wants is the attention he never got from his neglectful family, hence love).
On that note, perhaps Tai Lung could be associated with the White Tiger, which is associated with autumn and metal. Tai Lung certainly has some personality traits associated with metal; he's ridiculously strong in both offense and defense, his major concern is perfecting his craftsmanship of Kung Fu by learning all of it, and his mindset is rigid and inflexible, to the point that he's not truly able to understand the Dragon Scroll. Tai Lung's return is viewed as "steadily impending doom/death," like autumn is sometimes seen (when not admiring the pretty colors). And, of course, his physical appearance somewhat matches the White Tiger. Hopefully this is a deliberate pattern on the part of the writers which will be continued in future movies...because that would be cool.
The main plot of the first film may be that Po is an Ascended Fanboy who is The Chosen One, but the film is really more about Shifu than Po. The first film dealt with him inheriting the role of master after Oogway's death, and thus he is to train the Dragon Warrior, whom he is refusing to BELIEVE is the Dragon Warrior. He had to learn to accept Po for who he is in order to properly train him, and in the process, Po trained him to be a better person and to find his inner peace. Thus, in the sequel, Shifu became a secondary, if not minor character, because it wasn't about him. It was about Po discovering himself.
If Shifu can be considered the main protagonist of the first film, then Shen can be considered his foil. Both tried to avert a prophesied disaster, but in doing so inadvertently caused said disaster to happen. Both also had an elder who watched over them during their development. However, where Shifu tried to keep Oogway from leaving and later held onto Oogway's teachings regardless of the circumstances (he obviously had no idea how to turn Po into the Dragon Warrior, even till the end), Shen sent away the Soothsayer and decided his own choices were better than hers. Bonus points since both elders could see the future, but only the pupil that listened was able to attain happiness.
The Holiday Special works on several wonderful levels - for one, it is the Chinese mid-winter solstice festival (unmistakably, but without ramming it down our throats); and secondly, Po gives an answer to the assembled Masters at the Jade Palace for his need to leave to get back to his Dad's noodle shop that, in Chinese culture, would excuse just about anything- "I need to go home, so I can be a good son." They all turn up at the noodle shop later, thinking that he's clearly made the right decision.
That Shifu's father was a con-artist highlights how Shifu taught Tigress to control her strength by playing dominos with her. Of course, they were blank wooden dominoes which are both easy to carry and remake in the case of accidental smashing, but it isn't exactly a stretch for con artists to fix gambling games.
Some have criticized the fight between Po and Tai Lung for how the latter was defeated by the former in spite of Po having just finished training. The answer is in the Wikipedia page about the Leopard Kung Fu: Tai Lung's style relies on speed, counterattacks (it has no blocks, as it prefers striking for defence), debilitating blows and outsmarting the opponent... And as it happens, Po is the worst possible opponent for Tai Lung: as pointed above, Po is capable of using Tai Lung's strength and speed against him, recoiling back from most if not all attacks and hitting Tai Lung hard; the recoiling counterattack is something that should be dodged or deviated, and Tai Lung's style has none of that; being massive, Po is extremely hard to take down with a debilitating strike (as best shown when Tai Lung used his nerve strike and Po was just tickled), and that's made worse by him knowing how to use that bulk in defence; finally, as a nearly obsessive kung fu fan, Po already knows where Tai Lung's strengths lie, while Tai Lung has no idea of what Po can do, so outsmarting him is difficult at best. And all of this is made worse by the fact Tai Lung was focused on the Dragon Scroll while Po was focused on taking down Tai Lung, and Po knew this: most of the fight is Tai Lung trying to get the Scroll while Po (whose first action was to dangle it before Tai Lung's nose) lands hit after hit in the most debilitating spots (even while they were rolling down from the stairs: during that fall, Po threw Tai Lung's head on the steps eight times before sitting on his head). By the time Tai Lung decides to focus on Po to have free access to the Scroll, he has endured over two minutes of one of the most savage beatings in the history of kung fu movies, and has barely enough times to show he could have won rather easily before his strength deserts him and Po (who is still mostly fresh) starts fighting him straight... And still concentrating on Tai Lung's head (by this time he probably has a concussion).
In the flashback in the first movie, when we see Shifu trying to fight Tai Lung, there's a scene where Tai Lung attacks Shifu's legs with a backhand, and a crack sound can heard. When we flash forward to him training Tigress, he's holding that reed/bamboo stick/whatever it is that he uses as a cane sometimes. Then you realise what that crack was: Shifu's legs breaking. A side strike to the legs like what Tai Lung used is fairly damaging if done right. Couple in their relative sizes, and you realise Tai Lung crippled his old master with a single strike.