|“||Fly back there and tell them... the real Dragon Warrior is coming home!||„|
|~ Tai Lung ordering Zeng to warn Shifu about his return - his most famous quote|
Tai Lung is the main antagonist of DreamWorks' 16th full-length animated feature film Kung Fu Panda. He is a mighty snow leopard who was Po's first enemy, Shifu's former student and adoptive son, and Tigress' adoptive older brother.
He was voiced by Ian McShane, who also played Dr. Brinkman in Agent Cody Banks, Leigh Emerson in American Horror Story: Asylum, Blackbeard in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Winston in the John Wick film series, and Iofur Raknison in The Golden Compass.
Tai Lung is a tall, slender, muscular snow leopard with yellow eyes with golden irises, two teeth sticking out of the bottom of his mouth and whiskers that are shaped like a mustache. He also wears purple pants and a brown sash.
Tai Lung is best described as a warrior whose pride and ambition led him down a dark path. As a young cub, he was promising in the art of Kung Fu and had a close bond with his master, Shifu who in his eyes was his true father. However, as he grew older and more skilled, he became overconfident, egotistical, and vain, until he believed that it was his destiny to receive the Dragon Scroll and become the Dragon Warrior.
However, when approached by Oogway, the old turtle saw darkness in his heart and did not see him as worthy enough to be the Dragon Warrior. After his master and adopted father, Shifu said and did nothing after hearing this, Tai Lung considered this an act of a betrayal and his pride was replaced with rage. Tai Lung went on the warpath across the Valley of Peace, laying waste to everything in his path and decided to take the Dragon Scroll by force. He hates Shifu and even violently attacks his old master when he was in his way. Eventually, Tai Lung was subdued by Oogway and sentenced to Chorh-Gom prison.
However, 20 years in jail did not soothe his hatred and anger. Instead, he became even more determined that he was the Dragon Warrior, even telling Zeng that he was "the real Dragon Warrior" and he was returning to the Valley of Peace. Tai Lung retains his arrogance and brutality; he could not believe for one second that Po, who was an overweight panda, could be the Dragon Warrior which ironically was a factor in his defeat (granted he was able to defeat the entire Furious Five himself so maybe his arrogance was justified).
Despite his ruthless and hard exterior, Tai Lung is also naturally unassertive and insecure, so he never believed in himself to begin with, and needed the Dragon Scroll to believe so. While dueling with Shifu at the Jade Palace, he actually screams to his father that all he ever did was only to make him proud, indicating that despite nearly two decades of alienation between the two Tai Lung still wants his old master's approval. Even after hearing Shifu's confession that he had always been proud of him and that his pride blinded him into seeing what he became and made an apology for it, Tai Lung finally saw that Shifu still loved him, but he hardened his heart as he still wanted the Dragon Scroll.
|“||Shifu found him as a cub and he raised him as his son. And when the boy showed talent in kung fu, Shifu trained him. he believed in him. He told him was destined for greatness. It was never enough for Tai Lung. He wanted the dragon scroll but Oogway saw darkness in his heart and refused. Outraged, Tai Lung layed wasted to the valley. He tried to take the scroll by force and Shifu had to destroy what he had created. But how could he? Shifu loved Tai Lung like he never loved anyone before... or since.||„|
|~ Tigress explaining Tai Lung's backstory to Po.|
Tai Lung was found as a cub, abandoned at the doorstep of the Jade Palace, by Master Shifu. Shifu took him in and raised him as his own son, showered him with love, and trained him in the arts of Kung Fu, which Tai Lung proved to be a prodigy at. As Shifu trained him, he grew more and more confident in his abilities, due to Shifu's constant assurance that he was destined for greatness and he would be the Dragon Warrior. Growing into a proud and formidable fighter, Tai Lung began to see the Dragon Scroll and being the Dragon Warrior, as his destiny, and the final step in his life as a hero. The day arrived when Shifu felt that Tai Lung was ready for the Dragon Scroll, but Shifu's mentor, Grand Master Oogway, respectfully refused to let him have it due to seeing a dark potential in his heart. Hurt by this rejection, Tai Lung expected his master to say something in his defense, but Shifu said nothing, further damaging his heart.
At that point, Tai Lung's pride dissolved into rage, and he rampaged through the Valley of Peace, laying it to waste. He then attempted to take the scroll by force, barrelling through the thick wooden doors into the Jade Palace's Hall of Warriors, where Master Oogway and Master Shifu were waiting for him. Shifu attempted to stop Tai Lung from getting to the scroll, but was not willing to hurt the one he considered to be his son. So Tai Lung violently struck Shifu aside, injuring him in the process. Just before Tai Lung was about to get the Dragon Scroll, he was stopped by Master Oogway, who blocked his chi by jabbing multiple pressure points in his chest, rendering him unconscious. Shifu then mourned for his fallen son, ashamed that he could not reel in his ambitious nature until it was too late.
For his crimes against the Valley, Tai Lung was sentenced to life imprisonment. He was then locked away deep within Chorh-Gom, a well-fortified prison built inside a mountain guarded by the Anvil of Heaven, a thousand rhino guards led by the ruthless warden, Commander Vachir. In addition, giant crossbows were trained on him, two large boulders were chained to his arms, and he was forced to wear a stone shell on his back with various jade acupuncture needles placed in every crucial points blocking his chi in the process as well to immobilize him.
Kung Fu Panda
Escape From Prison
20 years later, in Kung Fu Panda, Oogway had a vision that Tai Lung would escape his confinment and seek revenge. Desperate to keep him in there, Shifu ordered his personal messenger, Zeng to send a message to double the security measures to ensure it. But Vachir dismisses this, saying that escape from his prison is already impossible, and attempts to prove it by showing Tai Lung to Zeng; even going as far as to boast that Oogway has chosen someone other than him to be the Dragon Warrior, and taking a step too far by literally stepping on his tail. As they leave, however, a molted feather from when Vachir slapped Zeng in the back lands in front of Tai Lung, and he uses his tail to sweep it closer to him, intending to finally escape after two decades.
Using his tail and the feather, he picked the lock to his shell. Once freed, Tai Lung was spotted by the Anvil of Heaven, who mobilized to contain Tai Lung with every weapon at their disposal. Driven by his insatiable fury, Tai Lung used his Kung fu mastery and decimate the guards in the process as he advanced his way up the levels resulting in a 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 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 finishing off the remaining guards and Vachir, presumably killing them all.
Grabbing Zeng by the neck, Tai Lung politely 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 revenge and gaining the power of the Dragon Scroll he had been denied so long ago at a top speed.
Tai Lung vs. The Five
Meanwhile, in the Valley of Peace, the potential Dragon Warrior (Po) is being trained to fight Tai Lung. The Furious Five upon hearing of his escape set out in an attempt to stop him, against Shifu's orders. Upon confronting him at the Thread of Hope, a rope bridge that served as the only passage through the mountains.
Though managing to fight him for a time, he defeats them without serious effort (by using nerve attacks), paralyzing all except for Crane, who sends him back to the Jade Palace along with his paralyzed companions as a warning. This action caused Shifu to evacuate the Valley to protect the villagers from Tai Lung's wrath and the Furious Five to lead them to safety, leaving Shifu to await Tai Lung's arrival.
Fight with Shifu
Though Tai Lung at first gives Shifu a chance at welcoming him home, in disregard of his earlier crimes, he shows no mercy to his surrogate father when he refuses and is challenged, beating him mercilessly and nearly killing him as he demanded the Dragon Scroll which the latter refuses, despite Shifu attempting to reach out to him at one point. Enraged at the crimes that had he felt had been done to him, Tai Lung attacks his master and an intense fight breaks out, where Tai Lung eventually defeats his master and attempts to finish him off upon realizing the Dragon Scroll was missing then starts to strangle Shifu in anger until Po confronts him.
Final Battle With Po And Defeat
During the final battle, he and Po came face-to-face and continuously fought over the Dragon Scroll. With Po managing to outmaneuver Tai Lung with his unorthodox kung fu fighting skills until the end, where Tai Lung finally gets the Dragon Scroll, only to realize that the Dragon Scroll was blank. Even though Po explained what the scroll meant, Tai Lung was still unable to understand its meaning and attacked Po out of frustration, attempting to paralyze him using a nerve attack, which proved useless against Po due to his body fat and only tickled the panda in the process.
Making one last futile attempt to fight, a weakened Tai Lung was finally caught on the legendary Wuxi finger hold as Po finishes Tai Lung, causing him to disappear in a rippling golden wave. As the outcome of the hold would be revealed in the third movie, Tai Lung was actually sent to the spirit world.
Kung Fu Panda 2
In Kung Fu Panda 2, Tai Lung was briefly mentioned when Po was put in eight-point acupressure cuffs, with the panda pointing out they are the same type of cuffs had once held Tai Lung. Tai Lung was also seen shortly in the memories of Po during his flashback as the latter attains inner peace in order to stop Lord Shen and his army of wolves from taking over China.
Kung Fu Panda 3
Tai Lung makes a cameo in Kung Fu Panda 3 as an action figure Po is playing with. He also appears on one of Kai's Jombie Amulets, but his amulet is only briefly visible in certain shots and is never used against the heroes. This shows that when Po defeated Tai Lung in the mortal realm using the Wuxi Finger Hold, Kai defeated Tai Lung in the spirit realm and took his chi.
Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness
Though Tai Lung does not make an appearance in the series, he is shown in flashbacks and is mentioned on more than one occasion: At first, he was shown in the flashback during his escape in Hundun's point of view. Then a kung fu prodigy named Peng whom Po just met revealed to have traced his family lineage and discovered that Tai Lung is his late uncle.
Later, in episode "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 as well as successfully convinced Peng about how Tai Lung's pride and desire for power had consumed him.
- Tai Lung appeared in the first Kung Fu Panda video game, in which he was the primary antagonist again and (just like the movie) broke out of jail and went for the scroll; however, unlike the movie, the Furious Five get captured by the leopard and his army of wolves. So it is up to Shifu to go rescue them and stop Tai Lung.
- Tai Lung was originally intended to lead a villainous army named the Lang Shadow Army comprised of wolves, as well as gorilla and ox allies in the film. The concept was scrapped but was kept in the video game then later reused as Shen's army instead.
- Tai Lung returns in the video game Kung Fu Panda: Legendary Warriors, in which he is the main antagonist (again) and also the final boss. This time, he comes with a troop of enemies to aid him. He is once again stopped, defeated, and killed by Po and the others.
- According to the creator's commentary, the color gold was used to symbolize heroism in the movie, and that Tai Lung saw himself as the hero of the story, hence they gave him golden eyes, despite the fact that he is the villain of the story.