Directed and produced by Dreamworks Animation and Dreamworks Animation Television, “Kung Fu Panda: The Dragon Knight” has accumulated a big thumbs down from the die-hard fans of the franchise. The series features Po gearing up to be a knight and also get back his lost title. It introduces new characters and powers through a very thinly written plot, glued together by slapstick comedy and saved by Jack Black’s comedic timing. The series is most enjoyed by children due to its family-friendly approach and an action-packed plot resembling some of the stories from the Marvel cineverse.
‘Kung Fu Panda: The Dragon Knight’ Plotline – What Is The Animated Series About?
The series begins with introducing the famous kung fu master panda, Po. Po is a true foodie, willing to embark on a food adventure across China to serve his palate. After his goodbyes to his father, Mr. Ping, he sets out on an adventure and is hailed with respect everywhere as the Dragon Master. However, everything comes crashing down after his altercation with the two main villains of the series, Veruca and Klaus, two weasels who are mages. Po loses his Dragon Master title after he accidentally destroys the village while getting a dangerous weapon and Gauntlet away from Klaus and Veruca. He ultimately loses the weapon and causes mass destruction, which leads everybody to shun him. He meets a knight, Wandering Blade, who is in pursuit of the villains. Po and Blade form an alliance where Po asks to be a knight. They journey through the lands of China to find the other holy weapons. However, they lost the Gauntlet yet again. Veruca and Klaus sail away with the Gauntlet and the fake whip as they set out to find the other holy weapons.
Po’s character in “Kung Fu Panda: The Dragon Knight” is shown as a lackadaisical, happy-go-lucky character. This bereft us of the essence of the actual characteristics that Po had in the movie franchise before the series. He was shown as a nerd who had accomplished becoming the next dragon master. He worked hard and also won the hearts of his master and friends, who supported him to the very end. His heart was set on helping out people as the dragon master, and he learned martial arts diligently, albeit with a few mishaps to make up for his abilities. Master Shifu came to love him as his own student and helped him out whenever he could. Po loved to eat, and his love for food fueled his need to learn martial art skills. He had learned how to use the Wuxi Finger Hold to defeat his enemies. As a Dragon Master, Po strived to become a beloved Dragon Master to help out the people of China. He would never slack on his duties and leave everything to become a knight.
In “Kung Fu Panda: The Dragon Knight,” Po is mesmerized by the position of a knight and dedicates his power to becoming a knight after being inspired by Blade. He is portrayed as a callous, ditzy panda who worsens the situation accidentally. He is happy to shirk off his duties as a Dragon Master and instead favors becoming a knight, a profession he has next to no idea about. He is nerdy in this series as well, but he opts to have fun instead of focusing on his mission or taking back his title. He has no love left for the title he had strived his best to achieve. Although he did want to get the title back, he was rather taken by the glamor of being a knight. He did not even use the Wuxi Finger Hold to beat Veruca and Klaus. He is rather fascinated by powerful weapons and collects comics to learn more about them. He teams up with the no-nonsense Blade and the treasure thief Rukhmini, joined by his father, Mr. Ping, to go forward with the mission to find the rest of the weapons as well as stop the dangerous duo of weasels, Veruca and Klaus.
Where Are The Other Characters That Make Up The ‘Kung Fu Panda’ Franchise?
The new series seems to deny the very existence of Master Shifu, Tigress, Monkey, Mantis, Viper, Crane, and Master Oogway. There is no mention of any of the characters that had a huge influence on Po and helped shape the warrior he had become. Po was a big fan of the five warriors and was also accepted as a good friend. They helped Po whenever he was in trouble and made sure he completed all his work diligently. Po was in awe of Master Shifu and Master Oogway, who taught him that being a panda, knowing next to nothing about martial arts, would not hinder his potential if he had the will to learn. They taught him and pushed him to become the best dragon warrior. In “Kung Fu Panda: The Dragon Knight,” there is not a single mention of any of these characters, nor do we get to know about their whereabouts. It is simply as if they do not exist. The new characters seem to take over the old group, with Wandering Blade having certain characteristics similar to Tigress, while Rukhmini seems to share an uncanny resemblance with both Monkey and Viper.
The King of China is introduced in the series and seems to be a very shifty individual who shares an uncanny resemblance to the political leaders in real life. He is depicted as greedy and whimsical, and has no care for the common people, instead wishing to capture Po. He dislikes anybody stronger than him and yet expects Po to save him when he is in danger.
Analysis Of The Plotline: Does The Plot Have A Political Inkling?
The creators of Kung Fu Panda have shifted their focus from creating a world respecting the traditions of Kung Fu in China to approaching a more Marvel cinematic world by creating all-powerful weapons and introducing new formidable characters. They seem to involve the Gauntlet, which shares a resemblance with the Infinity Gauntlet from the Avengers storyline. They have incorporated a lot of character traits from the Avengers into Po. It is a bit of a disrespect to the obvious strengths that the franchise already had with the previous characters, such as the Masters and the Furious Five.
If that is not all, the plot tiptoes around a colonialistic approach, where England and her ways are hailed as absolute. Wandering Blade, a knight for England, is inconspicuously introduced as a messenger of colonialism. Po is set up to become her page, which doubles as a push towards the dialogue of colonialism. Although Po is supposed to be a side character in Wandering Blade, he is all too accepting and ready to learn all about knights in the series, which takes away from his old teachings of Kung Fu. They focused a lot on slapstick comedy to break the tension of the set up. This serves as a letdown, because all of the episodes do not serve as a definite advance towards the storyline they are setting. They heavily imply but do not go through with the decision.
The story barely serves anything to the franchise and adheres more toward fan service. The entire plot simply serves as an underlying toward the political powers and the shifty nature of the society. It adopts the same old perspective of relaying the message, “Society remembers the bad deeds.” It does not matter if anybody has contributed to the society with only good deeds; one bad deed and society turns their backs onto the person. However, with all of the set-ups, the plot adheres more to a family-friendly approach and targets the kids. Those who waited for the series after learning about the return of Jack Black as Po were left highly disappointed with the plot.
The saving grace of the series was its soundtrack and its animation. The art and style of the episodes were made with such vibrancy that it really did put up a good front for saving the series. The last two episodes were the supporting pillars that held up the series. The fight scenes were an absolute delight to watch.
‘Kung Fu Panda: The Dragon Knight’ Season 1: Ending Explained – Will There Be A Season 2?
Although the series was a letdown to the fan following of the franchise and mainly served as a fan service after the other abysmal series produced in the franchise, the last two episodes of the season proved their worth with the vibrant graphic style. “Kung Fu Panda: The Dragon Knight” Season 1 ends on the note of Veruca and Klaus escaping with the Gauntlet and a fake whip. They leave to pursue other weapons. Their motive of bringing back all of the other mages from death with the help of all of the weapons serves as fuel to power through the mammoth tasks. Po, Rukhmini, Blade, and Mr.Ping band together with the real Whip that Rukhmini had to overthrow Veruca and Klaus and escort them back to their prison in England. Po wants his title back; Blade wants to be recognized as a knight to right her wrong. She wants to avenge her brother’s death and holds herself responsible for it. Rukhmini, on the other hand, is in for the adventure and the money and will probably turn against Po if the situation arises. Mr. Ping is intent on saving his son from the other two as well as the Villainous Weasels.
“Kung Fu Panda: The Dragon Knight” Season 2 will serve as a conclusion to this one. It might also give us a glimpse into the whereabouts of the original group. However, there is no need to build up hopes if it is only going to be a letdown. The next season will give us more information about the other two weapons that could bring about mass destruction. If all of them were used together, they might bring back the dead. It’s a guess, but supposing Veruca and Klaus are victorious in their efforts, maybe Blade’s brother and the rest of the characters who might be dead, or are rather unknown, might be reincarnated. The elders who were in charge of the weapons may also be reincarnated. Then, maybe they will help Po and Blade defeat the Weasels and later destroy the weapon to prevent another catastrophe.
“Kung Fu Panda: The Dragon Knight” is a 2022 Animated Series streaming on Netflix.