Inside 'Kung Fu' Panda

Jack Black voices Po, a clumsy panda unexpectedly chosen to fulfill an ancient prophecy and train in the art of kung fu, in DreamWorks' "Kung Fu Panda," distributed by Paramount Pictures and opening Friday, June 6, 2008. See more animated movie pictures.
DreamWorks Animation LLC / Photo by Patrick Ecclesine

Talking animals have been a mainstay of animation since the early Disney days, and modern cartoon moviemakers have taken the furry fauna to even more realistic levels thanks to many improvements in computer capabilities. But "Kung Fu Panda," DreamWorks Animation’s latest CG endeavor starring Jack Black in the title role, is a whole other animal.

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Not only is the film populated by a menagerie of different creatures, most with fur and all with clothing -- both difficult to design and animate -- the main characters execute complicated kung fu moves in several extended fight scenes in the movie.

Five years in the making, "Kung Fu Panda" is set in dynastic China and tells the tale of ­Po the Panda (Jack Black), who works with his dad in a noodle shop but would love nothing more than to be a kung fu master like his idols the Furious Five. But lacking the confidence and skills, the klutzy, oversize fan boy admires them from afar -- until an unexpected turn of events, and an ancient prophecy -- put him front and center in a climactic battle against a formidable enemy.

Jack Black, who recorded his part on an average of once a month over the last three years, isn’t the only marquee name lending his voice to the project. Angelina Jolie, Seth Rogen, Jackie Chan, Lucy Liu and David Cross make up the Furious Five and Dustin Hoffman is their trainer, Master Shifu. Ian McShane voices the villain, Tai Lung, and Michael Clarke Duncan is the prison commander, Vachir.

Blending their performances with the animated visuals fell to co-directors Mark Osbourne and John Stevenson. Read on to find out how they brought the fight scenes to life.