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15 Kung Fu Panda Facts To Give You A Black Belt In Knowledge!

Skadoosh! Get on the mat for these fifteen fighting fabulous facts about the most popular panda of all time!

Beano Facts Team
Last Updated:  March 27th 2024

If you're mad about martial arts AND you adore animals, then Kung Fu Panda is probably your favourite movie ever! But there's a lot more to it than meets the eye - in fact, there's a whole treasure trove of behind-the-scenes facts and fascinating trivia! Do you know which cast members can actually fight? Or what Po's name means? Or where you can meet Po and friends IRL? Read on and become the master of trivia!

And now that you're an expert, why not test your Kung Fu Panda knowledge with our trivia quizzes? See how well you know Kung Fu Panda, Kung Fu Panda 2, and Kung Fu Panda 3! And then, find out which Kung Fu Panda character you are!

1. The first movie came out in 2008!

Kung Fu Panda | DreamWorks Animation | Paramount Pictures | Melissa Cobb | John Stevenson, Mark Osborne

It seems like a really long time ago, doesn't it! The first film, simply titled Kung Fu Panda, came out all the way back in 2008. It was a pretty competitive year for animated films, with Bolt, Tinkerbell, Madacascar: Escape 2 Africa and WALL-E also coming out - but Kung Fu Panda came out on top as the third highest-grossing film internationally! Only The Dark Knight and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull beat it!

2. It has a seriously stacked cast

The films are just bursting with amazing voice acting talent! First of all, there's Jack Black as Po, of course! The Jade Temple alone also features Angelina Jolie, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen and Lucy Liu as Tigress, Monkey, Mantis and Viper, plus Dustin Hoffman as Master Shifu! Other voice talent across the franchise includes James Hong as Po's adoptive father Mr. Ping, Michelle Yeoh as the Soothsayer, Gary Oldman as Lord Shen, and J.K. Simmons (a.k.a. J. Jonah Jameson himself!) as Kai! Here's a bonus fun fact: James Hong's father actually owned a noodle shop, just like Mr. Ping in the films!

3. Po's name is meaningful!

According to the filmmakers, Po's full name is Po Ping, or baoping in Mandarin. This means "precious peace" - which is totally fitting with Po's peaceful persona! Mr. Ping also calls him Xiao Po, which means "little precious peace". Also - spoilers for the third film! - Po's birth name is revealed to be Little Lotus. The lotus flower is symbolic of honesty, goodness, enlightenment and purity, which all describe Po's personality and character journey!

4. There are some real-life relatives in the cast!

Kung Fu Panda 3 | DreamWorks Animation, China Film Group Corporation, Oriental Dreamworks, Zhong Ming You Ying Film | 20th Century Fox | Melissa Cobb | Jennifer Yuh Nelson, Alessandro Carloni

This is quite common in the film industry, but it's always fun to find examples! In the first film, baby Tai Lung is voiced by director Mark Osborne's six-year-old son; and the rabbit who calls Po attractive in the opening dream sequence is voiced by Jack Black's real-life wife, Tanya Haden. There's more of this in Kung Fu Panda 3, too - Jack Black's son and Angelina Jolie's children voice several young characters, and Lei Lei is voiced by Liam Knight, the son of Big Fun's voice actor Wayne Knight!

5. There are also some real martial artists!

It's fitting for a film about martial arts to have some cast members who can seriously kick butt - even if they never actually appear on the screen! The most famous is definitely Jackie Chan, who is famous for his work as a stuntman and fight choreographer. He made his name in martial arts movies before becoming big in Hollywood, and is famous for his comedy slapstick fighting style. He's not the only fighter in the Furious Five, though! Lucy Liu (aka Viper) studied eskrima, a martial art that uses weapons in both hands - usually sticks or knives! Michelle Yeoh, who plays the Soothsayer, trained as a ballet dancer and became a megastar in martial arts cinema. She won the Oscar for Best Actress in 2023 for her role in Everything Everywhere All At Once, where she did all her own stunts at the age of 58! It's kind of ironic that the Soothsayer never has an awesome fight scene!

6. The animators took kung-fu classes

It's sometimes said that in an animated film, there are multiple actors playing each character - the voice actor, and the animators behind the character! As the on-screen actors then, it's only fitting that Kung Fu Panda's animation team learn some of the kung fu moves themselves. The six-hour class helped them to learn how the characters would move in the film's fight scenes - no wonder the final product looked so good!

7. Jackie Chan dubbed himself!

As well as being a martial arts star, Jackie Chan speaks English, Cantonese and Mandarin fluently - so he played Master Monkey in all three dubs! He recorded all his English lines for the first film in a single five-hour session, too! He also plays Po's real father Li Shan in the Cantonese dub of Kung Fu Panda 3 (the part was played by Bryan Cranston in the English dub)!

8. Po's character arc was very different

Originally, Kung Fu Panda was imagined as more of a straightforward comedy, but ended up as a blend of comedy, action and adventure! Po's character journey had to change for this new version of the film, and Jack Black was a big part of this. In the original draft Po was more of an arrogant martial arts fanboy who wanted the Furious Five to love him back. Jack Black realised this made him quite unlikeable, and so the role was changed to make him more humble. Also, in the original script, Shifu was supposed to be Po's adoptive dad, which is why he is a red panda and why his name is shifu (father-teacher). Mr. Ping would have just been Po's boss - but the producers thought a panda having a goose for a father was funnier!

9. Dustin Hoffman tutored Jack Black

Kung Fu Panda | DreamWorks Animation | Paramount Pictures | Melissa Cobb | John Stevenson, Mark Osborne

For the scene where Po and Shifu argue at the top of the stairway, Dustin Hoffman coached Jack Black on delivering the lines so the scene would have real emotional impact. Hoffman has two Academy Awards, so he probably knows what he's talking about! He's also a perfectionist - his contract for the film stated that he must be allowed to make additional recordings if he wasn't fully satisfied with his performance.

10. The Wuxi Finger Hold isn't a real move

Sorry, would-be martial arts stars, but you can't do this move in real life! It is based on a mythical move known as dim mak, which is said to allow a fighter to kill their opponent using very little force - but there's no evidence that any such move really exists (probably a good thing!).

11. The producers studied Chinese art

Kung Fu Panda | DreamWorks Animation | Paramount Pictures | Melissa Cobb | John Stevenson, Mark Osborne

Of course it makes total sense for a film set in China to take inspiration from traditional Chinese art - but the production team really worked hard on their research! Production designer Raymond Zibach and art director Heng Teng spent several years researching Chinese culture, art, and martial arts cinema. The film's opening sequence is a homage to traditional hand-drawn Chinese art. The film's composer, Hans Zimmer, also visited China and spent time with the China National Symphony Orchestra. This paid off big time when the film was well-recieved in China and was even praised by the government for its artistry!

12. Mantis had a hidden plotline originally

The original idea for Master Mantis was that he would be a secret villain, working against Po from within! This was changed later on, and his character design was also changed to look less sneaky and more playful. There was also a plot beat in the second film where Mantis would be eaten by a female praying mantis. This was dropped too - but that is what female praying mantises do IRL!

13. They're more than just movies!

Kung Fu Panda Holiday | DreamWorks Animation | NBC | Tim Johnson

Kung Fu Panda isn't just a film triology - it's a media franchise! There's one Christmas special, Kung Fu Panda Holiday, as well as THREE TV shows - Legends of Awesomeness, The Paws of Destiny and The Dragon Knight! There are also four short films, plus seven games and some skins and crossover events in other games - so, if you haven't seen them all, you've got a huge marathon ahead of you!

14. There are theme park attractions!

If you want to visit Po in real life, you can! If you find yourself in Universal Studios Hollywood, you can visit "DreamWorks Theatre Featuring Kung Fu Panda", for a fun motion simulator experience! There was also a Kung Fu Panda themed land at the DreamWorks Experience in Dreamland, Australia, featuring Po-themed bumper cars and a thrill ride called Pandamonium. Sadly this land is closed now - but there are also themed play areas in DreamWorld Water Park in New Jersey, and Universal Studios Beijing!

15. There's a new one coming!

Kung Fu Panda 4 | DreamWorks Animation | Universal Pictures | Rebecca Huntley | Mike Mitchell

In 2024 we'll get the fourth installment of the film franchise! This story will feature Po facing a new villain, the Chameleon, and will be the first part in a second trilogy of Kung Fu Panda films - the studio are planning six in total!