“Kung Fu Panda 2,” starring its off-beat but hilarious star Po, is more than just an action-packed, laughter-inducing animation. The new film also teaches about redemption and forgiveness, with a mix of Chinese Taoism.
Panda star Po (Jack Black) and the Furious Five this time around are on a mission to defeat an evil peacock warlord (Gary Oldman) trying to destroy kung fu. Lord Shen the peacock may also know the secret to Po’s family history and the fate of his biological parents.
The 3-D animation, directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson, finds itself mixing Eastern mysticism (though not preached) and the message of redemption. The sequel explores the idea of letting go of sins and hurts from the past and finding forgiveness within.
The heartwarming sequel takes a more intimate look at Po, who goes on a quest to find his biological parents. He had previously believed that Mr. Ping, the quirky-noodle-making duck, was his father.
During the journey, viewers witness the heart-touching love between Po and his adoptive father. Po learns to let go of the hurt in the past and thus is able to acknowledge Mr. Ping’s love.
The yin-yang symbol appears frequently throughout the film. Po’s black and white body reveals the fact that he is not only the Great Dragon Warrior, but also the symbol of “inner peace,” becoming one with “the flow of the universe”, as master Shifu points out.
Christian film expert Dr. Ted Baehr comments that the movie’s Eastern tradition references should be explained to children as what they are. He suggests that it’s important to explain that Christ and the Gospel is the true path to finding inner peace as the film often tries to convey through Po.
"Kung Fu Panda 2" opened in theaters on May 26.