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|“||Fly back there and tell them... the real Dragon Warrior... is coming home.||”|
|—Tai Lung speaking to Zeng, Kung Fu Panda|
Trained by Shifu at the Jade Palace, Tai Lung was raised under the impression that he was to become the prophesied Dragon Warrior. However, after he was denied the title by Master Oogway, Tai Lung revealed his true dark nature by rampaging the Valley, resulting in his incarceration for twenty years. After breaking out of prison, he sought to claim the Dragon Scroll and take his place as the Dragon Warrior once again, fighting and defeating many warriors in his pursuit. However, despite being a warrior of great strength and determination, Tai Lung finally met his match when he was defeated by Po, the true Dragon Warrior.
Tai Lung was found by Master Shifu as an infant cub, wrapped in swaddling cloth and left at the threshold of the palace gates. Moved with compassion, Shifu decided to adopt the cub and raise him as his own, bestowing on him the name "Tai Lung" (meaning "Great Dragon") in the hopes that he would become the legendary Dragon Warrior.
As a child, Tai Lung showed a natural talent in the art of kung fu, and it became apparent that the cub was nothing short of a prodigy. Shifu lovingly trained him, becoming even more convinced that this was a sign that Tai Lung was the Dragon Warrior foretold of in legend.
Over time, Tai Lung became proud and overly confident in his own skills, having mastered Leopard Style kung fu and advanced techniques such as nerve attacks, as well as all one-thousand scrolls of kung fu. But despite all his accomplishments, Tai Lung still sought the power of the Dragon Scroll and believed he was the Dragon Warrior. It was this overwhelming pride and lust for power that alerted Master Oogway of the darkness in Tai Lung's heart. He refused him the title, surprising and disappointing both Shifu and Tai Lung, and Tai Lung looked to his father and master for support, only to be further dismayed as Shifu did nothing to object to Oogway's decision.
Outraged, Tai Lung laid waste to the Valley, cutting a swath of destruction in his fury before charging back to the Jade Palace to try and take the Dragon Scroll by force. Shifu charged to stop the snow leopard with a direct attack, but hesitated, unwilling to strike a lethal blow to the one he still considered his son. Still infuriated that Shifu had let Oogway's decision stand, Tai Lung did not hesitate to knock the red panda aside, shattering his hip before he leapt for the scroll. He was halted in midair by Oogway, who jabbed multiple pressure points in Tai Lung's chest, blocking his chi and knocking him out as Shifu watched in horror as the warrior he'd raised and trained fell before him.
There was nothing else to do but prevent such devastation from happening again. Shifu bowed to Master Oogway's wishes and helped oversee the construction of the ominously impressive Chorh-Gom Prison, located in the frigid outskirts of Mongolia. Carved right out of the mountain, the prison was made especially for Tai Lung—filled with many walkways and traps, with only one way in and out for the entire prison. In the deepest part of the prison, Tai Lung was chained and fitted with a restraining tortoise shell, with various acupuncture needles in crucial places along the leopard's back, keeping his chi blocked and making him almost fully immobile.
Leaving him under the supervision of Commander Vachir and the Anvil of Heaven, Master Shifu and Oogway parted ways from Tai Lung, leaving him to serve out the rest of his days in the prison as punishment for his crimes against the citizens of the Valley of Peace.
The prison break
Twenty years passed and Tai Lung's seething rage had only intensified. One fateful day, a messenger goose named Zeng arrived at Chorh-Gom Prison, carrying a message from Master Shifu to Commander Vachir: orders to double the guards so that security of the prison would be tighter than ever before due to a vision Master Oogway had had of Tai Lung returning to the Valley of Peace.
Commander Vachir only boasted that he had everything under control and that escape from Chorh-Gom was impossible. He showed off how the mighty snow leopard was "completely immobilized" and even stomped on his tail and teased Tai Lung with the bit of information that Oogway was now going to choose the Dragon Warrior at long last and that warrior would not be Tai Lung. Leaving him, Vachir and Zeng were unaware of the molted feathers knocked loose from Zeng when Vachir had slapped him on the back and, with his still-mobile tail, Tai Lung gathered one feather to pick the intricate lock and free himself from his restraints.
Once freed, Tai Lung posed a terrible threat to the Anvil of Heaven, who scrambled to try to stop the snow leopard with everything they had. Driven by his insatiable fury, Tai Lung unleashed his kung fu mastery and proceeded to brutally decimate the guards as he made his way up the levels, the battle climaxing in a standoff at the bridge at the door level.
In a last attempt to outsmart Tai Lung, Vachir ordered the bridge to be destroyed by setting off the explosives attached to the roof of the prison, causing falling chunks of rock the size of boulders to smash into the walkway Tai Lung was standing on. Thinking quickly, Tai Lung rapidly leaped from rock to falling rock, finally reaching the last bundle of explosives that had yet to be set off—and tossed it in the midst of the guards as it exploded, blasting open the heavy doors and taking care of the remaining guards and Vachir.Catching hold of Zeng outside, Tai Lung told him to fly back to the Jade Palace with a message of his own: "The real Dragon Warrior is coming home". After letting the goose go, he set out to return to the Jade Palace, bent on gaining the power of the Dragon Scroll he had been denied so long ago.
Battle against the Furious Five
Traveling across China at top speed, Tai Lung came to the Thread of Hope, a rope bridge that served as the only passage through the mountains. There he was confronted by the Furious Five, whom he knew to be Shifu's students, and who had left to stop Tai Lung after hearing of his escape.
After a brief attack in which he was deflected by Tigress, the bridge was cut and then held by the rest of the Five as Tai Lung casually demanded to know where the Dragon Warrior was, and laughed as Tigress implied that it was her. Tai Lung had heard rumors of the Dragon Warrior's appearance, that he "fell from the sky on a ball of fire, that he's a warrior unlike anything the world has ever seen." Monkey accidentally let slip that the identity of the Dragon Warrior was named Po, and intrigued, Tai Lung declared that he would finally have a worthy opponent to fight a legendary battle.
This provoked Tigress, who took him on, joined by other members of the Five until only Mantis was left to support the bridge. Tai Lung was overwhelmed by the team's combined skill and teamwork, wrapped in rope from the remains of the rest of the bridge and left to fall to the mist below. However the Five's victory was short-lived, as Tai Lung managed to use what was left of the now-destroyed rope bridge to seamlessly swing up and break free, landing behind the startled team.
He complimented them on what they had learned from Shifu, but stated that he hadn't taught them everything. The snow leopard utilized his nerve attack technique, blocking everyone's chi except for Crane, who was left to transport the other four back to the Jade Palace as a warning: Tai Lung could defeat the five strongest warriors in the land, and anyone else who might appose him, including this "Po".
By the time Tai Lung finally arrived at the Jade Palace, the whole Valley had been evacuated on Shifu's orders, leaving only the master himself to confront Tai Lung at the palace steps. Shifu's reception of his one-time student and son was cautious and cool; bluntly making it clear that they were now enemies. Outraged, Tai Lung attacked, finally unleashing his wounded pride felt at his original "rejection", and the two battled, Shifu refusing to give him the scroll while Tai Lung shouted accusations, demanding to be told how proud Shifu was of him as he fought his former master.
It was with the last disabling blow that Shifu finally cracked, telling Tai Lung that he had always been proud of him, so much that his pride had blinded him to what Tai Lung was becoming, and what he had helped turn him into. Shifu offered a sincere and heartfelt apology, and Tai Lung's gaze softened with hesitation—but he ultimately hardened his heart, proclaiming that he wasn't after an apology, he still wanted "his" scroll. Looking up, he saw that the Dragon Scroll was missing. Furious, he almost killed Shifu, who told him he would never get the scroll, but was interrupted by a shout from the entrance coming from an out-of-breath panda holding the Dragon Scroll, who claimed to the Dragon Warrior.
Incredulous, Tai Lung tossed Shifu aside, charging when Po challenged him to "come and get it". Knocking the panda down the thousand steps, he fought Po for possession of the Dragon Scroll, only to be outsmarted and outdone at every turn in a series of game-like obstacles. But Tai Lung gained the upper hand when he slammed Po into the ground, stunning him long enough to allow the snow leopard to grab the scroll and open it at long last—only to find that it was blank. Po weakly told him that there was no special power in the scroll itself; "It's just you".
Angered and exasperated at this, Tai Lung tried to defeat Po once and for all. However, the chi-blocking punches and jabs only seemed to tickle Po in the process, and he was again bested in combat by the panda. Making one last futile attempt to fight, a weakened Tai Lung was finally caught in the legendary Wuxi Finger Hold by Po. With the bending of his pinkie and the word "Skadoosh", Po performed the move, which sent a golden wave of energy rippling across the landscape, and Tai Lung was defeated, with not a trace of him to be seen afterward.Mr. Ping's nightmare, where he appeared giant-sized and fought Po, who remarked that he thought Tai Lung was dead before being cut off. After a brief fight, the snow leopard was defeated once again when the panda kicked him and sent him flying off into the horizon, exploding into a portal-like light on impact. battle with Po. To enact his plan for revenge, he gathered multiple clans and gangs, including the Wu Sisters, to capture enough villagers so that they can power his new weapon, which would give him super-strength. Po, Tigress, Shifu, and Monkey managed to defeat Tai Lung and his allies.
Though Tai Lung makes no live appearance in the series, he is shown in flashbacks and is mentioned on more than one occasion.
In "Master and the Panda," Peng ended up learning the truth about what had happened to Tai Lung and attacked Po, who tried to reason with Peng that his uncle was evil. Peng later ended up corrupted by the Gong Lu Medallion, and fought Po in a battle that mirrored Po's fight with Tai Lung. Po later used a shift stone to assume the form of Tai Lung in order to convince Peng to remove the Gong Lu Medallion.
While not actually appearing in the sequel, Tai Lung was briefly mentioned when Po was put in eight-point acupressure cuffs, the panda pointing out they the same type of cuffs had once held Tai Lung. He was also seen shortly in the memories of Po during his flashback.
As an adult, Tai Lung was shown to be dark, dangerous, and arrogant. In the past when he was raised and trained by Shifu, however, he seemed to be a happy, energetic cub with much talent and dedication to the arts of kung fu, and was viewed as a kung fu prodigy in the eyes of his loving father and master. Over the years, Tai Lung grew to into a strong and fierce warrior, having achieved much as a student, even mastering all one thousand scrolls of kung fu.
However, his ultimate goal was to be the legendary Dragon Warrior and be handed the Dragon Scroll, which he firmly believed was his destiny. In the moment when Shifu presented him to Master Oogway, however, the old master indicated that Tai Lung was not the one, much to their shock. Expecting Shifu to speak for him on his behalf, Tai Lung received an emotional blow when Shifu was too reluctant to protest, and the snow leopard saw this as an act of betrayal. It was this double rejection that finally revealed the darkness in the snow leopard's heart, expressed in pure rage as he attacked and rampaged the Valley of Peace, and later struck Shifu aside as the red panda attempted to stop him from trying to take the Dragon Scroll by force.
Tai Lung's fury and outrage did not fade even after he spent twenty years in prison. However, though he was shown to be patronizing and brutal to those in his way to claim the Dragon Scroll, it's possible that he had no intent to hurt anyone, as he was never shown to take a life. He was also revealed to have worked hard in everything he did to make Shifu proud, and was shown to look remorseful and hesitant after hearing Shifu's apology to him. Further example of his vulnerable side was also shown when Tai Lung expressed clear fear and desperation after finally being beaten by the likes of Po.
Overall, Tai Lung is a portrait of one whose pride and ambitions went too far, driving him to violently lash out and try to take what wasn't his, harming anyone who stood in his way, including the very person whom he wanted to please in the first place. His eventual downfall came from his own denial, and his underestimation of Po, as well as his failure to accept that the secret to true power simply comes from within.
The traditional Leopard Style relies on the enormous upper body strength—the fighter crouches, remaining low to the ground. Tai Lung used brute strength, speed and agility, all ruled by a cunning mind—a master of all styles, he could pinpoint and exploit weakness while facing many opponents. ...
Tai Lung is shown to be an intimidating fighter who is willing to fight to the extreme, and is both resourceful and unpredictable, having mastered various styles of kung fu. Tai Lung also possesses great strength, and was able to punch and rip his way through masses of armored opponents, as well as rock and many other barriers.
He was also noted to be a kung fu prodigy from childhood, and the first student of the Jade Palace to master all one-thousand scrolls of kung fu. Like Shifu, he shows an effortless mastery of speed, and was able to move lightning-fast in great distances, so much that he could suddenly appear in the blink of an eye. He was also capable of defying gravity to an extent, shown when he sprinted and jumped up enormous stalactites while they were falling in mid-air.
Tai Lung's signature moves include the nerve attack, which, ironically, was the same technique Oogway used to defeat him when he attempted to steal the Dragon Scroll. However, Tai Lung was capable of using it to paralyze and defeat all of the Furious Five. He also had a signature double-fist punch and a "sucker kick", both of which he used several times in the film.
As a snow leopard, he would use his claws to climb structures, and also seemed willing to use them to strike an enemy, as seen in his battle with Shifu. He also displayed the ability to hold fire in his bare paws and use it when fighting, showing no sign of pain as a result.
Despite being a aggressive fighter, Tai Lung could also be patient before taking action, as he was able to withstand his long immobile imprisonment before quietly finding a way to free himself. He also used his opponents weapons to his own advantage, as well as other unsuspecting objects nearby, such as rope, a stick, or even a feather, which he used to escape the restraints that held him for twenty years.
While plotting in jail, Tai Lung's kung fu had evolved. He surpassed all of the Furious Five combined, and even Shifu; but despite this, he couldn't defeat Po in battle, and was defeated by the panda's combined skill and use of the Wuxi Finger Hold.
- “All I ever did, I did to make you proud! Tell me how proud you are, Shifu! Tell me! TELL ME!!”
Discovered by Shifu outside the palace as an infant, Tai Lung was taken in as his son and apprentice, and later displayed an innate talent for kung fu. Shifu proudly raised and trained him, driving him to train hard and believing that he was destined to become the Dragon Warrior, unaware he was tempering in the young snow leopard's heart a lust for power, as Tai Lung, at the promise of Shifu, gained the mindset that he was indeed the Dragon Warrior. That proved to not be the case, however, when Oogway refused him the title.
Tai Lung had expected Shifu to speak to Oogway on his behalf, but felt betrayed when Shifu did not, causing the darkness in his heart to explode. When the red panda tried to stop him from taking the Dragon Scroll, Tai Lung viciously attacked him without a second thought, even though Shifu himself had pulled back out of love for his son. Years after these events, Shifu was shown to be stern and withdrawn toward his new students as he still carried the emotional burden of Tai Lung's betrayal.
Meanwhile, Tai Lung's rage had intensified a hundredfold while rotting and plotting in jail for the next twenty years. When he escaped, he made his way back to the Jade Palace where he confronted Shifu once more. This time, he attempted to talk calmly to Shifu, addressing him respectfully as "Master". However, Shifu grimly insisted that he was no longer his master, and that they were to engage in battle. During the fight, Tai Lung unleashed his anger and blamed Shifu for what went wrong in the past, from letting Oogway's decision stand because of his "weakness", to being the one who gave him the ideals of becoming the Dragon Warrior.
Shifu defended himself against the snow leopard, but finally struck back with a vengeance when Tai Lung carelessly took Oogway's staff, declaring Shifu could be the one to make him the Dragon Warrior now. The battle then became more vicious and Tai Lung yelled that he has done everything he'd done just to make Shifu proud, striking the red panda with blue-flamed fists until Shifu was beaten. Shifu then finally apologized, admitting that it was the pride and love for Tai Lung that had blinded him from seeing his flaws, and seeing what Tai Lung had been turning into. Tai Lung's fury melted away, and he hesitated, momentarily at a loss.
Even so, Tai Lung eventually hardened his heart and seized Shifu by the throat, demanding he didn't want an apology, he wanted the Dragon Scroll, and he demanded the master to reveal its location. Choking in Tai Lung's grip, Shifu repeated that Tai Lung would never have the Dragon Scroll, and, furious, Tai Lung attempted to finish him off, but was interrupted by the arrival of Po, after which he then carelessly threw Shifu to the ground. Hope that the two would reconcile was diminished as a result of the battle.
- “ [panting] You... can't defeat me!... You're just a big... fat... panda!”
Upon hearing that Master Oogway had chosen someone to be the Dragon Warrior, Tai Lung made his move and escaped from prison. During his journey back to the Valley, Tai Lung had apparently heard about the Dragon Warrior, how he "fell out of the sky in a ball of fire" and was "a warrior unlike anything the world has ever seen." He was eager for the opportunity to fight a "worthy opponent" and declared that their battle would be legendary.
He then found himself amused and incredulous to see the Dragon Warrior Oogway had chosen was a "big fat panda", who acted casual and even made a few quips at the snow leopard. Tai Lung then proceeded to try and steal the Dragon Scroll from Po, underestimating him and only thinking his kung fu skills had been derived from the Dragon Scroll's "secret to limitless power." Enraged, he fought more seriously, and even managed to get the scroll from Po, only to find that it was a blank, reflective surface with no secrets written on it. Even while down and injured, Po helpfully tried to explain the scroll's purpose, that the power was within oneself all along.
Confused and frustrated at this, Tai Lung tried to attack Po again, and continued to fight in vain as Po used his own physical attributes to overwhelm the snow leopard to the point where he had Tai Lung in the Wuxi Finger Hold. Tai Lung was afraid to see the technique, but nervously thought that perhaps Po was bluffing and that Shifu never taught him the hold. He was momentarily relieved when Po admitted so, until he added that he'd actually figured it out himself. With the move performed, Tai Lung was finally defeated by the true Dragon Warrior: a panda he had laughed at upon first meeting.
Tai Lung was unaware that while Oogway observed his training, he did not like what he saw: Shifu's excessive pride was filling Tai Lung's heart with darkness. When Tai Lung was presented before Oogway, he was shocked when Oogway denied him the Dragon Scroll without hesitation. This, along with Shifu's reluctance to speak up in his defense, angered the snow leopard into going on rampage through the Valley of Peace before trying to take the scroll.
After knocking Shifu aside, Tai Lung was ultimately stopped by Oogway, who knocked him unconscious with nerve strikes, but did not kill him. Ever since this incident and being put in Chorh-Gom Prison by the master, Tai Lung held a deep burning grudge against Oogway, even taking his sacred staff from its resting place after hearing of his death, merely using it to demonstrate to Shifu that he had the power to name him the Dragon Warrior, and later using it to choke the red panda, snapping the staff apart in the process.
The Furious Five
Tai Lung seemed aware that the five warriors who approached him at the Thread of Hope were Shifu's students, and the Five in turn knew of Tai Lung's history with Shifu, and as noted by Crane were "not really supposed to talk about him". However, led by Tigress, the Five were determined to stop Tai Lung before he could reach the Valley of Peace. Unimpressed to see them, Tai Lung's first reaction was to ask where the Dragon Warrior was. When Tigress suggested it was her, Tai Lung merely laughed, knowing full well that none of them were the Dragon Warrior, and only boasted how his battle with the real Dragon Warrior would be legendary, as it would be with a "worthy opponent". Angered, Tigress attacked him directly, aided by the rest of the Five.
Though Tai Lung ultimately overpowered them in battle, he seemed to grow some trace of respect for the Five after fighting them, as he praised their efforts, but added that Shifu hadn't taught them everything, and immobilized most of them with his nerve attack. He also didn't finish them off, but instead allowed Crane to carry his injured companions back to the Jade Palace as a warning.
The Wu Sisters
Tai Lung's outfit consists of a brown-studded belt and a pair of purple slacks, along with Shaolin leg wraps. The material of his pants appears to be the exact pattern and fabric of the blanket Shifu found him wrapped in upon first discovering the cub outside the palace gates.In some concepts of the character, as well as in Kung Fu Panda: The Game and at the beginning of Kung Fu Panda Holiday (but never in the first movie), Tai Lung was also shown wearing a studded shoulder plate and a metal gauntlet on his right arm.
- Tai Lung's name approximately translates in English to "great dragon" (simplified Chinese: 大龙?; traditional Chinese: 大龍; pinyin: dàlóng).
- The double-fist punch inadvertently became Tai Lung's signature move (which he performed a total of three times in the first film). Additionally, he is noted to have a "sucker kick" that he uses several times.
- Tai Lung is a snow leopard, which, in the wild, is a predator of both the giant panda and the red panda.
- The wok Po used to hit Tai Lung appeared as an Easter egg for the second film, where it was briefly seen on the conveyor belt in the Fireworks Factory with Tai Lung's face still forged into it (viewable here).
- The voice of baby Tai Lung was supplied by director Mark Osborne's six-year-old son Riley Osborne.
- Tai Lung's name comes from the Shaw Brothers Studio star actor, Ti Lung.
- For designing Tai Lung, character artist Nicolas Marlet looked to Chinese theatrical makeup as inspiration for Tai Lung's facial fur.
- Tai Lung was designed to be "the hero of his story", only chasing what he believes to be rightfully his (the Dragon Scroll) and overcoming whatever obstacle he comes across to obtain it. As gold is the symbol of heroism in the films' color theory, Tai Lung was given golden eyes to reflect this.
- Tai Lung's introduction in the first film was designed to be reminiscent of that of Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs.
- In the original film, the number of dust particles in the dust cloud created after Tai Lung dives into Po, causing an explosion, added up to 33,588,526.
- The number of tiles Po sent raining down on Tai Lung (who climbed those tiles) in the first movie was 8,260 tiles total.
In popular culture
- In one episode of MAD, he was briefly mentioned by Po, who had to fight Lord Shen and the Angry Birds alongside the Furious Five ("First I'm fighting a snow leopard, and now I'm fighting a bird?!").