|“||Finally! A worthy opponent! Our battle will be legendary!||„|
|~ Tai Lung's most famous quote.|
Tai Lung is the overall secondary antagonist of the Kung Fu Panda franchise. He is the main antagonist of DreamWorks' 16th full-length animated feature film Kung Fu Panda, the posthumous overarching antagonist of the TV short Kung Fu Panda Holiday and a posthumous antagonist for the rest of the franchise.
He is a mighty snow leopard who was Shifu's former student, adoptive son and archenemy and Tigress' adoptive older brother. He was originally trained by Shifu hoping to become the Dragon Warrior. However, when Oogway denied him the Dragon Scroll, Tai Lung ravaged the Valley of Peace, leading him to be defeated and sent away before returning to face the true Dragon Warrior.
He was voiced by Ian McShane, who also played Judas Iscariot in Jesus of Nazareth, Dr. Brinkman in Agent Cody Banks, Iofur Raknison in The Golden Compass, the Other Mr. Bobinsky in Coraline, Blackbeard in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Leigh Emerson in American Horror Story: Asylum and Winston in the John Wick film series. In the film's video game adaptation, he was voiced by Peter McHugh.
Tai Lung is a tall, slender, muscular gray 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, prideful, 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 Shifu neither said nor did nothing after hearing this, Tai Lung considered this an act of 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. Resenting on Shifu for not defending him, he violently attacked his old master and father-figure when the latter, who was hesitating, opposed him.
Subdued by Oogway and remaining in jail for two decades 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" after he escaped, even though one had been chosen already. Tai Lung retains his arrogance and brutality; he could not believe for one second that Po, an overweight panda, could be the Dragon Warrior which ironically was a factor in his defeat.
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 fighting Shifu at the Jade Palace, he yelled to his adoptive 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 made an apology for letting it blind him to what he was becoming, 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 laid 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 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 would then make the tragic mistake of devoting his whole life to being the Dragon Warrior, with Shifu making the mistake of encouraging this behavior. The ramifications came on the day 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 and confused by this rejection, Tai Lung expected his master, who had always believed in him, to say something in his defense, but Shifu could not bring himself to defy his own master for his pupil.
At that point, Tai Lung's damaged pride dissolved into a 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 Oogway and 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 still considered his son. Tai Lung, having no mutual reservations due to Shifu's lack of support, violently struck him aside, injuring him in the process. Just before Tai Lung was about to get the Dragon Scroll in his grasp, he was stopped by Master Oogway, who blocked his chi by quickly jabbing multiple pressure points in his chest, rendering him unconscious. Shifu then mourned for his fallen son, ashamed of not being able to reel his inner demons 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 point blocking his chi in the process as well as almost fully immobilizing him.
Kung Fu Panda
Escape From Prison
20 years later, Oogway had a vision that Tai Lung would escape his confinement and seek revenge. Hearing this, Shifu fiercely ordered his messenger Zeng to relay a message to double the security measures to avert Tai Lung's return. But Vachir dismisses this, saying that escape from his prison is already impossible, and attempts to prove it by showing a seemingly broken Tai Lung to Zeng; even going as far as to boast that Oogway was choosing someone other than the leopard 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 and claim the title he believed was his.
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 that had been building during his whole imprisonment, Tai Lung used his Kung fu mastery to decimate the guards 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 outwit 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 among the guards as it exploded, blasting open the heavy doors and finishing off the remaining guards and Vachir, presumably killing them all.
Grabbing a helpless 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 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 with coordinated teamwork, he defeats them when confronting them directly (by using nerve attacks), paralyzing all except for Crane, whom he sends back to the Jade Palace along with his paralyzed companions as a warning. This action, along him and Po not understanding the meaning of the unveiled scroll, caused Shifu to evacuate the Valley to protect the villagers from Tai Lung's wrath. He had the Five and Po to lead them to safety, staying behind to await Tai Lung's arrival, despite knowing it would be suicide facing his former student.
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 Death
During the final battle, he and Po came face-to-face and continuously fought over the Dragon Scroll. Despite Po's best efforts, Tai Lung finally gets the Dragon Scroll, only to realize that it was blank. Even though Po explained what the scroll meant (the secret to kung fu being what one put in their own that made it special), Tai Lung was still unable to understand its meaning. Believing he had wasted his whole life on a lie, he 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. Giving a powerful strike to Po only caused the panda to inadvertently rebound the force right to Tai Lung, sending him flying into a wall. The two then fought in direct combat; Po soon developing his own style in kung fu, using his body weight to his advantages. Tai Lung was sent crashing through another wall and make a charge at Po in blind rage, only to be sent flying into the sky before landing and making a hole in the ground.
Though battered, exhausted, and weakened, Tai Lung still tried to continue fighting, denying that Po could defeat him. Making a futile strike, he was finally caught in the legendary Wuxi finger hold where Po finishes Tai Lung off, causing him to disappear in a rippling golden wave, bringing his rampage to an end once and for all. As the third film would reveal, the outcome of the hold resulted in Tai Lung being sent to the spirit world, both in body and soul.
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 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 while taking a bubble bath. 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 eventually defeated Tai Lung in the spirit realm and took his chi. Like with Oogway and the other kung fu masters residing in the spirit world, Tai Lung's chi was freed when Po vanquished Kai.
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 from Hundan'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 the 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 shifting stone to assume the form of Tai Lung 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 villainous 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, even though he is the villain of the story.
- He is the only villain of the trilogy to mention Po by name at least once.
- One of his lines "Finally! A worthy opponent! Our battle will be legendary!" has become a meme.
- Tai Lung can be considered as a foil to Po (which is very fitting) as both desperately wanted to become the Dragon Warrior. However, while Po is kind-hearted and humble who is chosen unexpectedly to become a martial artist as a miracle due to how much of a very loving, kind, caring, big hearted panda Po is and that he always dreamed of being a martial artist, Tai Lung is very ambitious, arrogant and overconfident who refuses to change his ways. If Po was raised under Shifu's way of teaching about the Dragon Warrior and never was hooked to kindness, humility and care he would've ended up like Tai Lung.