‘Kung Fu Panda: The Dragon Knight’ Just Expanded a Decade Long Franchise


Kung Fu Panda: The Dragon Knight is the latest entry in one of DreamWorks Animation’s more fruitful universes. The third TV series in the franchise born from 2008’s animated feature film Kung Fu Panda (followed by big-screen sequels in 2011 and 2016), it marks nearly 15 years of storytelling around Po, a giant, energetic and endearing — if imperfect — panda who becomes a master of Kung Fu after being prophesied as the Dragon Warrior.


Now streaming on Netflix and with the weight of more than a decade worth of adventures proceeding it, The Dragon Knight manages to set itself apart in Po’s ever-growing story, taking Kung Fu Panda in new directions.


Executive producer Peter Hastings told The Hollywood Reporter that the concept for the series began “with the idea of a road trip,” specifically a buddy road comedy that “naturally takes you all over in pursuit of their goal, which is to try and catch bad guys.”


Voice of Po and star Jack Black notes that the EP “had a cool vision for what an epic journey this would be” — one that still manages to be full of “all the magic stuff that made the first movie so great: it’s Kung Fu, it’s comedy, it’s adventure and in the end, it’s got some cool messages for the kids.”


While it keeps many of the elements viewers loved about previous installments, Hastings notes that the show gets to go narratively and visually to places the franchise has never been.


“Just within the realm of TV animation, the picture that we’re delivering and coming up with and designing looks fantastic,” Hasting shares. “Then also related to storytelling, we’re doing basically a single story through the first 11 episodes — a serialized thing which hasn’t been done with the Kung Fu Panda television stuff before.”


A story that sees Po lose a title he’s spent literal years with, The Dragon Knight puts him on a journey that tests not just his own understanding of himself, but sees him teamed up with and “challenged by somebody who doesn’t get him.”


The Dragon Knight introduces the brand new character of Wandering Blade, voiced by Rita Ora. Hastings says the character is the opposite to Black’s Po, and through their Dragon Knight journey, both characters come to find that they “kind of need each other a little bit.”


Kung Fu Panda: The Dragon Knight is now streaming on Netflix.

Christina Wiggins

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