Kung Fu Panda rests on Buddhist concept of nothingness - which is pretty rich

by Jay Stone, Canwest News Service, June 5, 2008

Vancouver, Canada -- There's something deliberately cartoonish about many kung fu movies, so it seems redundant to make an animated martial arts film. Yet despite that ancient wisdom, here is Kung Fu Panda, a messy concoction that looks as if they came up with a funny title and a lot of artists spent years trying to make something out of it.

It's all over the place. Some scenes seem too frightening for children. The villain, a snow leopard named Tai Lung (voiced by Ian McShane), has a menacing glare, a sadistic snarl and a facility for kicking other creatures into the stratosphere.

Jack Black voices Po, a clumsy panda unexpectedly chosen to fulfill an ancient prophecy and train in the art of kung fu in Kung Fu Panda.View Larger Image View Larger Image
Jack Black voices Po, a clumsy panda unexpectedly chosen to fulfill an ancient prophecy and train in the art of kung fu in

Some scenes seem too arcane. The movie rests on the Buddhist concept of nothingness, which is pretty rich if you saw the introductory event at the Cannes Film Festival where 40 people in panda suits lined up to salute Jack Black.

Some of it seems redundant. We've seen too many live-action kung fu stunts to be impressed by the animated version of people running up the shards of collapsing stone bridges, no matter how carefully created.

Some of it just seems silly, which is fine for a family movie, of course, but there's silly and then there's silly. Kung Fu Panda is silly.

Black is the voice of as Po, the son of a noodle-making goose (parentage can be iffy in these movies) with dreams of kung fu glory.

When the wise old tortoise,  Oogway (Randall Duk Kim), picks the new dragon warrior, Po accidentally insinuates himself into the ceremony and gets the job.

It's then up to Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman), an unidentifiable little animal with big ears (possibly it's just supposed to be Dustin Hoffman), to train him. And he'd better hurry because Tai Lung is about to escape from prison, kick the pixels out of his rhino guards and return to the kung fu monastery to claim his crown, or whatever it is that angry jungle cats crave.

The fun is in watching Po learn to do kung fu, seeing as how he's fat and ungainly and voiced by Black in Nacho Libre mode Kung Fu Panda has a few jokes for the adults, but they're lost in the confusion of characters, motivations and lost opportunities.

In the latter category we'd place the other kung fu masters from whom Po learns, including Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Mantis (Seth Rogen), Viper (Lucy Liu) and Monkey (Jackie Chan). Jolie has a few lines, but none of the others say very much, and so Kung Fu Panda is a martial arts film without a sidekick.

Technically, it's well done and just the thing for children who would enjoy watching an idiosyncratic menagerie represent ancient Chinese culture.

The good news is that Kung Fu Panda, like its namesake, is unlikely to reproduce in captivity.

Kung Fu Panda
Starring: The voices of Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Ian McShane
Directed by: John Stevenson and Mark Osborne
Written by: Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger
Parental advisory: cartoon violence.
Rating: two and a half stars out of five

We Need Your Help to Train the
Buddhist AI Chat Bot
(Neural Omniscient Robotic-Being for Buddhist Understanding)

For Malaysians who wants to donate in MYR, please use the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB
Note: Please indicate your name in the payment slip. Thank you.

Dear Friends in the Dharma,

We seek your generous support to help us train NORBU, the word's first Buddhist AI Chat Bot.

Here are some ways you can contribute to this noble cause:

One-time Donation or Loan: A single contribution, regardless of its size, will go a long way in helping us reach our goal and make the Buddhist LLM a beacon of wisdom for all.

How will your donation / loan be used? Download the NORBU White Paper for details.

For Malaysians who wants to donate in MYR, please use the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB
Note: Please indicate your purpose of payment (loan or donation) in the payment slip. Thank you.

Once payment is banked in, please send the payment slip via email to: editor@buddhistchannel.tv. Your donation/loan will be published and publicly acknowledged on the Buddhist Channel.

Spread the Word: Share this initiative with your friends, family and fellow Dharma enthusiasts. Join "Friends of Norbu" at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/norbuchatbot. Together, we can build a stronger community and create a positive impact on a global scale.

Volunteer: If you possess expertise in AI, natural language processing, Dharma knowledge in terms of Buddhist sutras in various languages or related fields, and wish to lend your skills, please contact us. Your knowledge and passion could be invaluable to our project's success.

Your support is part of a collective effort to preserve and disseminate the profound teachings of Buddhism. By contributing to the NORBU, you become a "virtual Bodhisattva" to make Buddhist wisdom more accessible to seekers worldwide.

Thank you for helping to make NORBU a wise and compassionate Buddhist Chatbot!

May you be blessed with inner peace and wisdom,

With deepest gratitude,

Kooi F. Lim
On behalf of The Buddhist Channel Team

Note: To date, we have received the following contributions for NORBU:
US$ 75 from Gary Gach (Loan)
US$ 50 from Chong Sim Keong
MYR 300 from Wilson Tee
MYR 500 from Lim Yan Pok
MYR 50 from Oon Yeoh
MYR 200 from Ooi Poh Tin
MYR 300 from Lai Swee Pin
MYR 100 from Ong Hooi Sian
MYR 1,000 from Fam Sin Nin
MYR 500 from Oh teik Bin
MYR 300 from Yeoh Ai Guat
MYR 300 from Yong Lily
MYR 50 from Bandar Utama Buddhist Society
MYR 1,000 from Chiam Swee Ann
MYR 1,000 from Lye Veei Chiew
MYR 1,000 from Por Yong Tong
MYR 80 from Lee Wai Yee
MYR 500 from Pek Chee Hen
MYR 300 from Hor Tuck Loon
MYR 1,000 from Wise Payments Malaysia Sdn Bhd
MYR 200 from Teo Yen Hua
MYR 500 from Ng Wee Keat
MYR 10,000 from Chang Quai Hung, Jackie (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from K. C. Lim & Agnes (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from Juin & Jooky Tan (Loan)
MYR 100 from Poh Boon Fong (on behalf of SXI Buddhist Students Society)
MYR 10,000 from Fam Shan-Shan (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from John Fam (Loan)
MYR 500 from Phang Cheng Kar
MYR 100 from Lee Suat Yee
MYR 500 from Teo Chwee Hoon (on behalf of Lai Siow Kee)
MYR 200 from Mak Yuen Chau

We express our deep gratitude for the support and generosity.

If you have any enquiries, please write to: editor@buddhistchannel.tv