In the Valley of Peace, a land in ancient China inhabited by anthropomorphic animals, a giant panda Po is a kung fu fanatic who idolizes the Furious Five – Tigress, Monkey, Mantis, Viper, and Crane – a quintet of kung fu students trained by the red panda Master Shifu at the Jade Palace. As he helps his adoptive goose father Mr. Ping in his noodle restaurant, Po is unable to pursue his dream of becoming a kung fu master himself.
Grand Master Oogway, an old tortoise and Shifu’s mentor, has a vision that Shifu’s former student, the evil snow leopard Tai Lung, will escape from prison and return to the Valley of Peace to take revenge. Shifu starts panicking and sends his messenger, Zeng the goose, with a request for the prison to heighten security in order to prevent Tai Lung’s escape. He then holds a kung fu tournament for the Furious Five so that Oogway may identify the Dragon Warrior, the one kung fu master worthy of receiving the Dragon Scroll, which is said to hold the secret to limitless power and be capable of defeating Tai Lung. Po arrives as the arena doors close and is unable to enter. Desperate to see the Dragon Warrior chosen, Po straps himself to a set of fireworks, rockets into the sky, and crashes into the middle of the arena. He opens his eyes to see Oogway pointing his finger at him, and to the shock of everyone present (and Po’s huge surprise), Oogway proclaims Po as the Dragon Warrior.