Few realize that Kung Fu
actually has nothing to do with fighting. Roughly translated, Kung Fu
means "achievement through great effort". I originally avoided watching this movie, thinking this was some cheap capitalization of tired tropes, but I was persuaded to watch it after listening to praise by a respected individual of the martial arts film industry. It was very apparent very soon that Dreamworks has good Kung Fu
in regards to the making of this movie.
"There is no secret ingredient". Bruce Lee likened Kung Fu
to water in that it is without dimension, soft, yet given enough time is able to erode boulders. One does not need to know everything to become a master, because there is
no secret to becoming a master. One only needs an introduction, and all else will naturally follow like a river. Likewise there is no "Level zero". Po, the panda, being able to grasp these concepts makes him a true dragon warrior, even with limited formal training. Big Bad Tai Lung only ruins himself by revealing these spoilers early.
One would assume that the whole plot device of using food to train Po would be one purely for comedic value, but this is in fact in line with how Kung Fu
works. Bruce Lee also noted that water is infinitely flexible and adaptable; Po turns his liabilities—of weight and food—into his greatest assets. Tai Lung's brute force was unable to disarm Po, and punching him in the stomach only backfires. Po was then able to quickly dispatch Tai Lung by using the Tiger's aggressive behavior against himself, drowning him in his own frustration.
My favorite dialogue came about at the conclusion of the final battle, where Po has the enemy by a finger, threatening to use shifu's mythical "wushu finger hold":
Tai Lung:"You're bluffing! Shifu didn't teach you that!"
Po: "Nope. I figured it out."
I was punching the air with a resounding "YES!" when I heard that. I encourage all kung fu
and movie lovers to watch this film. The visuals and anthropomorphism only serve to augment, rather than distract from this very well-crafted story. Dreamworks is quickly becoming a master at it's craft, and I humbly await a chance to see "How to Train Your Dragon", another of their pictures which I regret not seeing in theaters.