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Awkwafina, Ronny Chieng, James Hong and the ‘Kung Fu Panda 4’ Team Discuss Celebrating Chinese Culture

Screen Shot 2024 02 23 at 3.45.45 PM min

The Kung Fu Panda franchise has always been inspired by Chinese culture by nature of its subject matter, aesthetics and themes. In a newly released video by Universal Pictures, the Kung Fu Panda 4 cast and crew talked about the ways in which their film celebrates Chinese and Asian American cultures.

Awkwafina joins the franchise in the fourth film as Zhen, a corsac fox who helps Po in his new quest. “It’s an honor to join this franchise. It has always honored the culture and done so in a really cool way that definitely added to the Asian American landscape of film,” Awkwafina says in the video.

Another new addition to the Kung Fu Panda cast is acclaimed comedian and actor Ronny Chieng. “It’s pretty obvious that Kung Fu Panda is an homage to classical Wuxia, Chinese Kung Fu movies and you can see the love and care that goes into every frame of it,” Chieng says.

For co-director Stephanie Ma Stine, who previously worked on Raya and the Last Dragon and Big Hero 6: The Series, this film provided an opportunity to not only share her culture on screen, but with her colleagues. “It’s been an opportunity to share everything that Ive learned while growing up with my parents and my grandparents. I actually was able to teach a bunch of animators how to play Mahjong,” Stephanie Ma Stine says.

Check out the video below and watch Kung Fu Panda 4 in theaters March 8th.

Awkwafina and the ‘Kung Fu Panda 4’ Team Discussing Celebrating Chinese Culture

About Kung Fu Panda 4:

This spring, for the first time in almost a decade, comedy icon Jack Black returns to his role as Po, the world’s most unlikely kung fu master, with a hilarious, butt-kicking new chapter in DreamWorks Animation’s beloved action-comedy franchise: Kung Fu Panda 4.

After three death-defying adventures defeating world-class villains with his unmatched courage and mad martial arts skills, Po, the Dragon Warrior (Golden Globe nominee Jack Black), is called upon by destiny to … give it a rest already. More specifically, he’s tapped to become the Spiritual Leader of the Valley of Peace.

That poses a couple of obvious problems. First, Po knows as much about spiritual leadership as he does about the paleo diet, and second, he needs to quickly find and train a new Dragon Warrior before he can assume his new lofty position.

Even worse, there’s been a recent sighting of a wicked, powerful sorceress, Chameleon (Oscar® winner Viola Davis), a tiny lizard who can shapeshift into any creature, large or small. And Chameleon has her greedy, beady little eyes on Po’s Staff of Wisdom, which would give her the power to re-summon all the master villains whom Po has vanquished to the spirit realm.

So, Po’s going to need some help. He finds it (kinda?) in the form of crafty, quick-witted thief Zhen (Golden Globe winner Awkwafina), a corsac fox who really gets under Po’s fur but whose skills will prove invaluable. In their quest to protect the Valley of Peace from Chameleon’s reptilian claws, this comedic odd-couple duo will have to work together. In the process, Po will discover that heroes can be found in the most unexpected places.

The film features the voice talent of returning stars Academy Award® winner Dustin Hoffman as Kung Fu master, Shifu; James Hong (Everything Everywhere All at Once) as Po’s adoptive father, Mr. Ping; Academy Award® nominee Bryan Cranston as Po’s birth father, Li, and Emmy Award nominee Ian McShane as Tai Lung, Shifu’s former student and arch-nemesis. Oscar® winner Ke Huy Quan (Everything Everywhere All at Once) joins the ensemble as a new character, Han, the leader of the Den of Thieves.

Kung Fu Panda 4 is directed by Mike Mitchell (DreamWorks Animation’s Trolls, Shrek Forever After) and produced by Rebecca Huntley (DreamWorks Animation’s The Bad Guys). The film’s co-director is Stephanie Ma Stine (She-Ra and the Princesses of Power). In 2008, the Academy Award®-nominated 2008 inaugural chapter, Kung Fu Panda, became DreamWorks Animation’s highest-grossing original animated film and launched a franchise that has earned more than $1.8 billion at the global box-office.


Ron is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of POC Culture.  He is a big believer in the power and impact of pop culture and the importance of representation in media.

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