How did Po the Panda do that thing he did?
August 16, 2008 8:35 PM   Subscribe

I have a (probably stupid, definitely spoiler) question about Kung Fu Panda.

So it's the final showdown. Po grabs Tai Lung's finger. Tai Lung gasps. Surely Shifu didn't teach you the secret of the Wuxi Finger Hold? Nah, says Po, I kinda figured it out on my own. Cue sunshiney mushroom cloud.

Did I miss something during the movie? How in the hell did Po just 'figure out' this technique? I don't remember anything from the training montage that might've given it away (as was the case for, say, the bamboo stilt / wok battle and its similarities to the earlier chopstick / dumpling lesson), or any other scene that would foreshadow what seems an improbable contrivance.

Or is this meant to be some kind of lame "I believe that if you believe that I believe that I know the technique your own head will assploded" thing?
posted by obiwanwasabi to Media & Arts (16 answers total)
It's a cartoon starring Jack Black as a talking Kung-Fu-ing giant panda. If that isn't the biggest foreshadow of "unrealistic things will occur" then I don't know what is. So yeah, it is an improbable contrivance.
posted by papayaninja at 8:54 PM on August 16, 2008 [2 favorites]

Seriously? You're trying to apply logic to a movie about animals that talk and do kung-fu? A movie in which an overweight panda is able to learn master-level kung-fu in a matter of days because he's motivated by food? A movie in which a panda doesn't realize he's adopted, even though his father is a goose?

It's a joke. You aren't meant to know how he figured it out.
posted by cerebus19 at 9:13 PM on August 16, 2008 [1 favorite]

There's a scene earlier in the movie where Shifu grabs Po by the little finger, obviously not completing the move (otherwise, you know, k-boom, fade, credits roll).

Now, for some real logic: how come the panda's noodle cooking dad is a duck?
posted by _dario at 9:49 PM on August 16, 2008

Suspension of disbelief!
posted by CoinOp at 9:52 PM on August 16, 2008

I figured that by him figuring it out on his own, he proved himself to be the true Dragon Warrior (or whatever it was called).
posted by blahtsk at 11:03 PM on August 16, 2008

Yes, I know it's a kid's movie. I know it describes fantastical events. So does Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, and I don't think I'd be getting these sorts of answers if that ended with the main character saying "Ha! Now I will defeat you with a secret technique explicitly hidden from me at the start of the movie, never again discussed during the movie but which I suddenly know for no reason and with no subsequent explanation!" Or if The Karate Kid went like this:

Miyagi: There is a secret kick in Okinawan karate that cannot be blocked.
Daniel: Miyagi-san, teach me!
Miyagi: No.
(Daniel does the crane kick and wins.)
Daniel: Yeah, I just worked it out by myself.

The rest of the plot makes sense and was reasonably enjoyable. I just wanted to know if this was deus ex machina or if I'd missed something. It's got nothing to do with logic and everything to do with good storytelling. 'It's a cartoon' and 'dude, it's a panda' doesn't answer that question one bit.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 11:17 PM on August 16, 2008 [2 favorites]

You didn't see the scene where he consulted the very wise badger ? The training montage was great.

No one can know the answer to your questions past "Did I miss a scene ?". No there wasn't a scene you missed where he learned the wuxi finger hold. It's a cartoon aimed at a very young demographic (but I still enjoyed it). Enjoy it at face value for maximum pleasure. I guess if I were to guess, they're trying to show that he was the "chosen one", so that's how he taught himself the move. It, or something similar, has been done in a bunch of stories.
posted by GreenTentacle at 12:16 AM on August 17, 2008

Obiwan, you're comparing it to movies aimed mostly at adults (or teens). You know why Kung Fu Panda is a kid's movie? Because it's filled with absurdist humor. That scene is funny because it doesn't make any sense for him to have figured it out. It, in fact, has everything to do with logic and the lack thereof.
posted by Roman Graves at 12:31 AM on August 17, 2008

kldickson: "It's called a fart. I've never seen this movie, and I know what happens when you pull fingers."

I've never seen the movie either but I think kldickson probably nailed it with the first comment.
posted by Effigy2000 at 2:13 AM on August 17, 2008

I thought he figured out the secret (believing in yourself, realizing your full potential, etc.) so suddenly anything was possible. I.e. it was just at that moment that he worked out how to do it. It illustrates how everything suddenly clicked so perfectly for him.
posted by hjo3 at 4:33 AM on August 17, 2008

Deus Ex Panda
posted by jozxyqk at 4:35 AM on August 17, 2008 [1 favorite]

I believe it's a reference to the Dragon Scroll, which was a mirror, and not instructions for the Dragon Warrior. The idea that it's within you, and not something anyone can show you, seemed the point of both the Dragon Scroll and then use of the finger hold.
posted by Toekneesan at 7:06 AM on August 17, 2008 [1 favorite]

You're looking for Pixar story in a Dreamworks picture. Dreamworks has repeatedly found that their stories don't need to hold up to the kind of scrutiny you're attempting to apply to be profitable.
posted by ulotrichous at 9:32 AM on August 17, 2008

Now, for some real logic: how come the panda's noodle cooking dad is a duck?

Whaa? You missed the adoption joke?

Anyway, if you really need some sort of explanation, you could take this exchange:

[Shifu grabs his finger and he gasps]
Po: The Wuxi finger hold? No no, the Wuxi finger hold!
Shifu: Oh-hoho, you know this hold?
Po: Developed by Master Wuxi in the 3rd dynasty, yes!
Shifu: Oh, then you must know what happens when I flex my pinkie?
Po: [gasps] No no no no!

to mean that Po was already familiar with the technique, but simply had never been exposed to it (solved here) and didn't have the Kung-Fu skill to replicate it (solved later.)
posted by Solon and Thanks at 10:33 AM on August 17, 2008

Of course he means that he has undergone the dramatic transition to believing in his own potential, which is the real secret of the Wuxi finger hold's efficacy. Otherwise, it's just like any other damn finger hold. Seriously.
posted by fourcheesemac at 2:11 PM on August 17, 2008

Toekneesan wins! That's a very satisfying answer.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 5:14 PM on September 25, 2008

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