Today (March 16th, 2022) is National Panda Day, and what better way to celebrate than by reminiscing about one of the best pandas we know, Po. 

Po the panda / Picture Credit: DreamWorks Animation

Po the panda / Picture Credit: DreamWorks Animation

Kung Fu Panda (2008) is the perfect family film, as it shows the ups, downs, and everything in between of following your dreams, which doesn’t always go as planned. 

Po (Jack Black) is a dedicated panda; he works with his duck father, Mr. Ping (James Hong), making the best noodles in the Valley of Peace. However, Po wishes for more. 

The plump panda has always wanted to be the Dragon Warrior, the master of Kung Fu who would lead the Furious Five into victory. But, Po thinks, it is not to be. 

On the day the Dragon Warrior is decided, Po rushes to the palace with everyone else, only to be stopped by his father who says he can go if he takes the noodle cart with him. 

This makes Po late to the festivities, as dragging a noodle cart up thousands of steep stairs isn’t exactly a quick process; but, ever-determined, Po makes his own way in over the walls. 

Landing in the middle of the grounds, Po is chosen by Oogway (Randall Duk Kim) to be the Dragon Warrior, much to the dismay of Tigress (Angeline Jolie), who has wished this for herself for years. 

Po then learns of a threat by the name of Tai Lung, a snow leopard who threatens the Valley of Peace with his desire for the Dragon Scroll. When he escapes his deep, dark prison, it’s up to Po and the Furious Five to save the day. 

Kung Fu Panda is a wonderful story of determination and wit, as Po adores the art of kung fu and is a huge fan of the Furious Five, who, along with Tigress, consist of Mantis (Seth Rogan), Monkey (Jackie Chan), Viper (Lucy Liu), and Crane (David Cross), he isn’t the best at performing it. 

The Furious Five / Picture Credit: DreamWorks Animation
The Furious Five / Picture Credit: DreamWorks Animation

Po trains relentlessly, wishing to earn the respect of Tigress and Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) most of all. Jack Black was the perfect choice to voice Po, as his balance of funny and serious moments show Po to be someone who tries his best, but doesn’t seem capable. 

The beauty of this film really does lie in the fact that Po is a rather relatable panda. He has what he wanted, to be a member of the Furious Five, but training and the dismay of Tigress and Shifu is getting him down, but not enough for him to quit. 

Po showcases how, no matter who you are, what your skills are, and who follows you along the way, that anyone can follow their dreams and become who they want to be, even if it comes from falling out of the sky trying to get into an event... 

Of course, what Jack Black movie would be complete without some brilliantly written comedy? Kung Fu Panda, in addition to the messages and great plot, Po is a clumsy, ridiculous animal who doesn’t fully understand the ways of the Furious Five, making it even funnier that he’s a member of their group. 

Not only is Po a highly relatable character, the plot is great and allows for not just Po, but his new friends and the villain of the movie to shine also. 

Po's training isn't so easy... / Picture Credit: DreamWorks Animation
Po's training isn't so easy... / Picture Credit: DreamWorks Animation

Tai Lung is a dark and troublesome character, who seeks revenge on Shifu for failing him as a student. The film shows us Tai Lung’s perspective, and that perhaps he isn’t this evil monster, but someone who feels abandoned. 

Every character has their personality that is clear and fits them perfectly. Mantis, for example, quite likes Po, and shares jokes and laughter with him, as well as doing his best to teach him kung fu so he can fit in a little better. 

The relationship Po has with his father is also wonderful, as of course Mr. Ping isn’t Po’s real father (mainly because he’s a duck), he has always believed in Po, and always stood behind him in everything he does, even if it means Po not selling noodles anymore. 

The visuals are also fantastic, and still hold up today. The picture is clear and crisp, and the colours and even textures look amazing, further making it a wonderful and exciting feature. 

Kung Fu Panda is a hilarious, relatable and slightly emotional movie that really highlights that even if you get your dream, you still have to work hard. But, if you have people around you that encourage you, there's nothing you can't do. 

Watch the trailer for Kung Fu Panda below:

Written by Melissa, who you can follow on Twitter @melissajournal

MORE: Wonder Woman revisited: A strong, female-led movie that shows the strength of women