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Tai Lung is the primary antagonist in Kung Fu Panda. He was the adopted son of Master Shifu, who had raised and trained him under the impression that he was to become the prophesied Dragon Warrior some day. 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. Despite being a warrior of great strength, Tai Lung finally met his match when he was defeated by Po, the true Dragon Warrior.
Tai Lung was found by Master Shifu as a newborn 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 in everything that he knew, and became even more convinced that this was a sign that the leopard was the foretold Dragon Warrior of legend.
Over time, Tai Lung grew proud and overly confident in his own skills, having mastered Leopard Kung Fu and advanced techniques such as nerve attacks, as well as all one-thousand scrolls of Kung Fu by adulthood. 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 Shifu for support, only to be further dismayed as the master did nothing to object to Oogway's decision.
Confused and 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, meaning to stop the snow leopard once and for all. However, the master hesitated, unwilling to strike a lethal blow to the one he still considered a son. Tai Lung, still infuriated that Shifu had let Oogway's decision stand, did not hesitate to knock the red panda aside, shattering his hip, and he leapt for the scroll. He was halted in his tracks by Oogway, who jabbed multiple pressure points in Tai Lung's chest, blocking his chi and knocking him out.
There was nothing left to be done. 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. Shifu would not see his son again for twenty years, during which his personality changed as he trained the Furious Five, his demeanor turning cold, stern and strict.
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 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 Zeng go, he set out to return to the Jade Palace, to exact his revenge on those he felt wronged him and to gain the Dragon Scroll he had been denied so long ago.
Traveling across China at top speed, Tai Lung finally met up with the Furious Five (who left to go fight Tai Lung on their own after Tigress overheard Po and Shifu's conversation) at the Thread of Hope, a rope bridge that served as the only passage through the mountains. He wasted no time in confronting what he recognized as Shifu's newer students. He then casually demanded to know where the Dragon Warrior was. Tigress tried bluffing that she was, but Tai Lung could tell none of them were the Dragon Warrior. He repeats the rumors of how the Dragon Warrior "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 is named Po. Intrigued, Tai Lung declared that he will finally have a worthy opponent to fight a legendary battle. This provoked Tigress, who takes him on, followed by the rest of the Five. Due to the cunning of their teamwork, Tai Lung was nearly defeated by the team by being thrown off the bridge (presumably to his death), but utilizing cunning of his own, the snow leopard managed to outsmart them, using what was left of the now destroyed rope bridge to swing up and behind the startled team. He complimented them on what they had learned from Shifu, but stated that he hadn't taught them everything, as the snow leopard proceeded to block everyone's chi except for Crane, whom he left alone so he could transport the other four back to the Jade Palace as an additional warning to the Dragon Warrior and Shifu: He could defeat the five strongest warriors in the land, and he was coming for Po and Shifu next.
By the time Tai Lung finally arrived at the Jade Palace, the whole Valley had been evacuated, leaving only Shifu to confront him at the palace steps. Shifu's reception of his one-time student and son was cautious and cool; outraged, Tai Lung finally attacked, not only demanding the scroll, but finally unleashing his wounded pride felt at his original "rejection", screaming accusations and 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 was proud of him — too proud, in fact, and that his pride blinded him to what Tai Lung was becoming before it was too late. Shifu offered a sincere and heartfelt apology, hoping that Tai Lung would stop his quest after the ultimate power that wasn't his to start with and redeem himself. Tai Lung hesitated, seeing that Shifu did still love him and was proud of what he had been, but he ultimately hardened his heart, proclaiming that he wasn't just after an apology— he still wanted "his" scroll. Looking up, he saw that the Dragon Scroll was missing. Furious, he almost killed Shifu in order to get him to tell him where the scroll was, but was interrupted by a shout from the entrance... coming from a "big, fat, panda" holding the Dragon Scroll.
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. Tai Lung gained the upper hand when he slammed Po into the ground, stunning him long enough to allow Tai Lung to grab the scroll and open it at long last— only to find that it was blank. When he questioned the panda, Po told him that there was no special power in the scroll itself; "It's just you" Po says. Spent from his travels, the grueling fight with the Furious Five, Shifu and Po, an exasperated Tai Lung tried to defeat Po once and for all in a last effort born out of frustration. However, the chi-blocking punches and jabs didn't seem to work due to Po's excessive body fat (which seemed to tickle Po in the process) and the panda finally bested the beaten snow leopard with the usage of the legendary Wuxi Finger Hold, sending a golden wave of energy rippling across the landscape, ultimately destroying him. While his fate is left rather open for impression, a reference of him in the holiday special vaguely suggests that Po considers him dead. Either way, he is no longer a threat to the Valley of Peace.Kung Fu Panda Holiday as a minor villain. He was part of Mr. Ping's "Noodle Nightmare" where he (in an incredibly huge size) fights Po, who says that he thought Tai Lung was dead. But the snow leopard was defeated once again when the panda kicked him and sent him flying off into the horizon, exploding into light on impact.
It was shown that Tai Lung had survived his battle with Po. To enact his plan for revenge, he gathers the Black Moon Scavenger Clan, the Hoof Clan, the Baboon Boss and his gang, the Gorilla Boss and his gang and the Wu Sisters to capture enough villagers so that they can power his new weapon which will give him super-strength. Po, Tigress, Shifu and Monkey managed to defeat Tai Lung and his allies.
While not actually appearing in the sequel, he is briefly mentioned when Po is put in eight-point acupressure cuffs that once held him in Chorh-Gom Prison. He is also seen shortly in a flashback sequence by Po.
Though Tai Lung does not actually appear in the series, he 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 came to terms with this and decided to give up Kung Fu. After helping Po to fend off Temutai, Peng ended up corrupted by the Gung Lu Medallion that Temutai had stolen and again fought Po in a battle that mirrored Po's fight with Tai Lung. Po later used the shift stone to assume the form of Tai Lung in order to convince Peng to remove the Gung Lu Medallion.
Tai Lung was shown to be dark, cynical and, overall, evil in nature. In the past, when he was raised and trained by Shifu (who was a young adult at the time), he seemed to be a happy, sweet, energetic, playful little snow leopard with much dedication to the arts of Kung Fu and was viewed as a great Kung Fu prodigy in the eyes of his loving master.
When he completed his training by mastering all one thousand scrolls of Kung Fu, Tai Lung (who was now an adult) was seen as a strong-hearted individual with obvious fierceness and strength in both his eyes and body. However, his ever-growing pride (which only Master Oogway seemed to have found) was the reason that Tai Lung was not made the Dragon Warrior, which was his aim in life. Expecting his master to speak for him on his behalf, Tai Lung received yet another emotional blow when Shifu was too reluctant to say something for him, thus making the snow leopard feel betrayed and unloved. It was this double denial that revealed the leopard's dark and true nature of his heart. His pride turned to corruption, which finally bubbled over when he rampaged the Valley of Peace.
Tai Lung truly might have been a good person, shown when he looked remorseful after Shifu's apology. He may not have wanted to hurt anyone else, especially his own father and master, but he forced himself not to care and quickly hid any kind of love he had left inside him. Instead, Tai Lung let his pain, rage, and brutal side get the best of him, never truly showing what he could have been—or, for that fact, what he should have been. Tai Lung may have only wanted to make Shifu happy. Sadly, Tai Lung thought the only way was to better himself and to be the Dragon Warrior.
Overall, Tai Lung is a saddening portrait of one whose pride and ambitions went too far, driving him to try to kill the very master whom he just wanted to please in the first place.
The traditional leopard style relies on the enormous upper body strength for both male and female practitioners—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, as witnessed when he defeated the Furious Five single handed. Tai Lung had also displayed the ability to hold fire in his paws and use it when fighting, as seen in his battle with Shifu. He was also capable of defying gravity to an extent, as shown when he sprinted and jumped up enormous stalactites while they were falling in mid air.
Tai Lung's signature techniques were nerve attacks which, ironically, were the same techniques that Oogway used to defeat him when he attempted to steal the Dragon Scroll. Although he was not as adept at these techniques as Oogway, he was still capable of using them to paralyze and defeat all of the Furious Five (except Crane whom he allowed to carry the others back to the Jade Palace). However, as deadly as this technique was, it was useless against Po due to his large bulk and instead of paralyzing him it simply tickled him.
While plotting and rotting in jail for twenty years, Tai Lung's Kung Fu had evolved—his inner anger had taken over. Revenge drove this relentless, brutal fighter to claim the Dragon Scroll, stopping anyone in his path. He had surpassed all of the Furious Five combined, and even Shifu (due to his former master's age and reluctance to harm his former son) in power and speed; but despite all this, he couldn't defeat Po in battle. This was most likely because he underestimated him just like the Furious Five and Shifu had, which led Tai Lung to his humiliating downfall.
Discovered by Shifu on the palace doorsteps, Tai Lung was taken in as his son-turned-apprentice when he displayed an innate talent for Kung Fu. Shifu proudly raised and trained his son, 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 his master, gained the mindset that he was indeed the Dragon Warrior. That would not be the case, however, when Oogway refused. Tai Lung had expected his master to speak to Oogway on his behalf, but felt betrayed when Shifu did not, causing the darkness in his heart to explode. Now he has a deep hatred for Oogway and Shifu (and possibly everyone).
While rotting and plotting in jail for twenty years, Tai Lung's rage had intensified a hundredfold when he escaped, and made his way back to the Jade Palace where he confronted Shifu once more. During the fight, Shifu could not bring himself to give it his all, still loving Tai Lung like a son despite all the snow leopard's crimes, and feeling regret for what his pride turned Tai Lung into and seeing finally realizing how much Tai Lung had been hurt by Shifu's "betrayal". He admitted all this to Tai Lung, hoping he could reach the son he believed to still be in that dark warrior, and he seemed to succeed for a few seconds when Tai Lung saw that his master still loved him.
Even so, having come too far and suffered too much, Tai Lung hardened his heart and demanded the scroll before he almost killed Shifu. Any father-son relationship between the two had died afterwards.
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 somewhat 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." Upon also learning the Dragon Warrior's name (Po) from Monkey of the Furious Five, he praised 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". 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. Po tried to explain the scroll's purpose, that the power was inside the Dragon Warrior all along; but, spent from his journey, and fighting the Furious Five, Shifu, and Po, Tai Lung's frustration and anger kept him from understanding the scroll's cryptic message as he tried to attack Po again. He 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. At first, Tai Lung was scared, but nervously thought perhaps Po was bluffing, that Shifu never taught him the technique, and was momentarily relieved when Po admitted so until he said "[he] figured it out". In other words, Tai Lung's underestimation of Po is what led the fallen warrior to his own humiliating downfall.
Prior to the day he was denied the Dragon Scroll, Tai Lung had probably held great respect for Master Oogway, the founder of Kung Fu, just as Master Shifu did. He 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 got a nasty shock when Oogway denied him the scroll without hesitation. This, along with Shifu's reluctance to speak up in Tai Lung's defense, made the snow leopard rampage through the Valley 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, Tai Lung held a deep burning grudge against Oogway for his denial, and felt nothing but pleasure and satisfaction when he learned of his death.
The only outfit Tai Lung was ever seen in consists of a brown-studded belt and a pair of purple slacks, along with Shaolin leg wraps. When he was a young child, the material of his pants appeared 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).
- In Secrets of the Furious Five, Tigress was taken in by Shifu, thus making her and Tai Lung foster siblings.
- 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 in the film's commentary as having a "sucker kick" 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?!").