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Legend of a Kung Fu Rabbit

Legend of a Rabbit, released in the US as Legend of Kung Fu Rabbit, it a 2011 Chinese animated feature film directed by Sun Yijun. The film was produced by Dong Fachang, Xue Jiajing, Jiang Ping, and Zhou Chao. It has a run time of 89 minutes. Legend of a Rabbit is the first Chinese animated feature to be shown internationally, being released in 62 countries worldwide on July 11, 2011. It was produced on a budget of 120 million Chinese Yin, and only managed to receive 16 million in the box office release.

Plot[]

Plot Summary[]

With governing of the realm expected to soon pass to one of the Master's children the master seeks to have his only daughter, Penny, return to inherit the realm. One of his sons, Slash, however has him assassinated before this can happen though while dying of poison the master comes to a sweet cake vender. With his dying breath he gives him the tablet- the proof of leadership- and passes on by mystic means all his Kung Fu skill to the vender. The vender, Fu, then travels to Peking in search of the rightful heir to fulfill his promise to the dying man. Eventually, after being pressed into servitude and navigating intrigue Fu faces Slash and managed to deliver the realm into the hands of it's rightful heir.

Detailed Plot[]

The film opens up to a cloudy mountainous valley at night where a kung fu master (a monkey) and his student (a rabbit) are climbing the steps towards a monastery. The student asks if he can have tomorrow off to which his master says if he can catch him, he can. The student, Biggie, attempts to do so but fails. The master is still however pleased with his students efforts. A storm moving in distracts the master while Biggie tries to petition for time off based on how well he's been studying and innovating. His master decides to give him a task that should take some time away from training for him to do. Deliver a message to Penny, and ask that she come home and put the past behind them. Biggie departs to do so and his master is attacked by masked assailants as the storm rolls in. The assailants are under the command of one of his former students, a bear, who poisons him with a hidden nail attack and demands a tablet the old man possesses- in return for a quick death. The master flees and the former student begins searching for the tablet.

That morning in a nearby village an older rabbit, Fu, is making sweet cakes. Fu sells sweet cakes on the street for a living and walking out to do so he trips over the tail of the master who was assaulted the night before. Fu recovers from his fall and noticing the man tries to attend to him. Taking him inside his home Fu looks for some medicine thinking the man to be sick but the master explains he's been poisoned. An old family remedy isn't going to save him. Having not yet trained his newest student in his Kung Fu and having gotten on ill terms with his previous students the master uses chi to transfer his techniques to Fu and tells him to only use Kung Fu for good and not to bully the weak. He tells Fu to go to Peking City, find the Tiger Academy. He tells him to give the tablet he has to Penny, the master's daughter. As Fu tries to explain that he has to sell sweetcakes the master dies. Posthumously Fu promises to do so, to find Penny, and give her the tablet.

The next day, after selling sweetcakes and packing for the trip, Fu sets off for Peking City. After enduring a terrible storm and traveling without sleep Fu passes out in a bamboo forest. As the next day dawns two would be bandits, a frog and a gator couple, are painting themselves black as part of the gator's plan for a robbery. The gator wants to be a unique criminal, and thinks simply going up to someone with a knife and demanding their money is tried and done. Fu wakes up and is startled by a fly in his face before noticing the two. As part of his low intellect he asks if the gator is Penny and she begins her bandit routine of demanding his money. When mistaken for coal miners her choice of painting herself black is pointed out as a bit flawed by her husband. She defends her choice of tactics by referencing a handbook on banditry which instructs one to paint their face black so as not to be recognized. Fu then thinks they must be security guards protecting the trees and that causes her to fall over in disbelief. They try acting out a theft to get Fu to realize they are suppose to be bandits. Her blood pressure rising her husband tries to get her to clam down but she ends up having a heart attack which prompts him to simply do what he had said they should have. Draw a weapon and demand Fu's money. It's then Fu realizes they are bandits and flees while the frog whimpers.

Meanwhile Biggie and Penny, a tall feline and the daughter of the monkey master are talking. Biggie delivered the message and Penny's happy to have his company again. While Biggie tells her about how nice her father is to him the two see Fu running from the bandits, including the gator who recovered from her attack and instantly took chase after Fu with her husband close behind. Penny intervenes and seems to get them in a more reasonable state though Biggie's childish instigation of them leads the Gator to try to bite him only for Penny to grab her tail and throw her some distance away. Penny stops the frog's bladed attack with two fingers and the couple gives up. Biggie tries to further things some more but Penny gets him to stop and then tells the two would be bandits they are better than this and should stop. The two decide to retreat and take the chance to run away. Biggie then asks if Fu looks so different from him because he lives near nuclear power or something only for Penny to again calm him. Fu asks who they are and Biggie almost tells Fu Penny's name and who she is only for her to stop him. She introduces herself as Penelope and they say goodbye. Penny tells Biggie he should have better manners as they leave. Fu continues his trip towards the Tiger Academy in the opposite direction as Biggie walks with Penny towards her father's home.

The bear who attacked the master sits upon a throne, several masters of martial arts come to call him out as a phony. Among the various things they bring up is him painting rings around his eyes to look like a Panda. The bear, Slash, had invited them, all former students of the master like himself, but they know something is up. They demand to know what he's done to the master. Slash tells them a lie about having tried to protect the master when a gang of assassins showed up. He even claims to have been given the tablet, and this claim is not fully believed. Some believe him, others do not. They demand to see the tablet as proof and because of this Slash resorts to poison to kill them all thus leaving no one to question his claims.

Penny re-reads her father's letter. She tells Biggie she doesn't think she'll ever leave home again, and that she'll have to give up on her dream. Biggie being the rude boy he is tells her that was obvious; she's not a kid anymore she has responsibilities like taking care of her father. She tells him she's nervous about seeing him again, because she's been gone so long. He tells her there is no reason to feel like that- the master is her father. Thus he nudges her back into traveling towards home though to do so they have to pass through Peking.

At night Fu arrives to Peking, and is overwhelmed by all the city offers. He calls it many different names- Temple City and Capital City among them. Penny and Biggie also arrive there, turns out Penny wasn't at Tiger Academy like her father had thought. She'd gone off to do her own thing beyond the city walls. Her father use to take her to Peking every year and while looking for a souvenir Biggie sees a stall selling ceramic rabbits. He asks if she remembers them and she goes over with happy nostalgia. It's what her father bought for her each year. As she talks about the merchant recognizes her and she's flattered, despite wanting to keep a low profile. The fact that someone else can share a bit of her memory is a good feeling. Fu hears the name with his long rabbit ears and tries to go to where the sound was but is blocked by some bulls marching down the street. Penny meanwhile is informed by the merchant that her father is missing. Turns out after hearing that the merchant has had the two on his mind after hearing the news. He tells her that Slash has proclaimed himself the new master and Penny takes Biggie by the arm and rushes off.

Fu ends up at the Emperor's Banquet, a restaurant in Peking connected to the Martial Arts academy. After grabbing a help wanted sign to use as a tissue after inhaling firework smoke he's quickly hired by the proprietor. Frustrated at being pressed into this service when he's just come to fulfill a dead man's wishes he ends up loosing his nerves and shouting that he's looking for someone while in route to serve dishes to Slash and his associates. Despite the interruption, Slash is genuinely curious and tells his associates to calm down so they can hear him out. Fu tells him he's looking for a girl named Penny. Slash demands to know how Fu knows Penny and his associates prepare to fight if they have to. Fu then plays the role of goofball trying to make out as if he was, wanting a tip for his service. Fu's almost fired by the proprietor though Slash remains reasonable, instructing his right hand to keep an eye on Fu as he doesn't recognize Fu. He doesn't want any trouble arising when he seemed to have sorted everything out to be the new master of Tiger Academy.

Away from Slash the proprietor asks who sent Fu to find Penny and explains that Slash killed everyone else who worked there before he took over. Thus the help wanted sign. He tells Fu to work hard, serve dishes, and keep his mouth shut or he might be killed too. Penny meanwhile had gone off to investigate the academy and noticed that she didn't recognize anyone from a distance. She doesn't feel an immediate danger but is cautious. Biggie decides to go in without her to gather further information. He sneaks in and is noticed by Slash who subtlety instructs his right hand to see to it that Biggie is caught as he wants to know what the boy is doing there. Slash being at the stage of worrying that his plan will unravel but not wanting to disturb things more than he has to to maintain his position. The ruckus of aroused security prompts Penny to enter and rescue Biggie from the trap laid for him. A fight takes place and the two escape. Fu meanwhile after a long night of work wonders what he should do with the tablet now.

The next morning Fu is whipped awake by Slash's rand hand and starts to serve breakfast. The academy is very active with Slash's students training on the grounds. Slash's students show there disregard for others as Fu makes his way through the grounds only to be tripped. Having broken many plates Fu's punishment is to fill the water tanks. Distracted by food he causes trouble in the kitchen after offering to be a cook before completing his task. He's then banned from the Kitchen. Assigned chores around the place his foolish failures make him entertainment for the students and eventually the rest of the staff thus he's kept around.

One night Penny and Biggie on a glider swoop in and take out some the guards. Slash wakes up feeling off and is attacked by Penny. Caught off guard her agile style gets him cornered and she demands to know what he did with her father. Slash tells her to lower the blade, so they can talk about this peacefully. She demands the truth. He tells her the lie he's told everyone else mixed with a bit of truth. The master is dead he says, but left the kingdom to him because Penny left three years ago. The two of them are siblings, that she already knew, thus why she didn't feel any real threat while investigating before. The master was not just a man of martial arts- he was a King. She doesn't believe that her father actually left the Kingdom to Slash and thus demands to see the tablet. Again Slash must handle matters in a low way unbecoming of his diplomatic nature. Catching her off guard he tries to kill her only for her to escape him now aware very much of the danger he poses. He blames his right hand rather then himself for her escape and fires him.

The next day Biggie tends to Penny's wounds and expresses that it's difficult to belief that in just the few days he was away Slash and his men killed her father, his master. Penny feels terrible about not having been there- about having gone off to chase her dream. She sets her mind to get revenge on Slash and then- faints. Biggie doesn't know what do and calls out for help. Fu, taking a nap outside the academy when he's suppose to be gathering water for the tanks, hears him calling and seeing Penny (who he doesn't recognize) unconscious he picks her up and starts to rush her to the nearest temple. Biggie being the kid he is doesn't understand what he's doing. At the temple Penny regains consciousness and sees Biggie at her side. The temple's abandoned but Fu was able to find healing herbs to help her though Biggie thinks it's gross and still doesn't fully understand that he's helping. By the time he does he's annoyed that Fu doesn't recognize them but Penny thanks Fu- again having to calm the kid who still pushes Fu out.

Fu returns to the Academy to do his chores there. Slash has come to better senses, and rehired his right hand. He organizes search efforts to locate Penny and notices Fu. He still doesn't know how Fu knows Penny but after the attack on him- he's more curious than before. Fu, having regained the right to enter the kitchen at some point, learns from the proprietor of the Emperor's Banquet that the academy guards are looking for an assassin who attacked Slash the night before and a little rabbit who helped her escape. Fu starts to speculate that perhaps the people he helped where involved and the proprietor again has to get him to stop yapping so much lest he get himself in danger.

That night Fu dreams of the monkey man he tried to help, and is reminded -for he has trouble remembering things- that he has Kung Fu. He tries to find out where Penny is to complete his mission and is told she's closer than he thinks. The proprietor of the Emperor's Banquet wakes him up in the morning with water because he was mumbling in his sleep which could be dangerous. Meanwhile Penny is hungry and uncertain at the abandoned temple. Biggie brings her some water and says he can try to find something for her when Fu arrives with food. After Biggie tries to get him to leave again Fu convinces him to let him stay to cook. Penny is very happy to have him do so. Watching him she starts to wonder who he is. Something about him reminds her of Kung Fu masters, specifically how he chops food swiftly and balances ingredients in his hands so well. Traits he's always exhibited unknown to her. Fu serves Penny some cheese, veggies, and his famous sweet cakes. She- upon seeing them tells him that she appreciates the gesture but isn't feeling hungry any more. Biggie starts digging into the sweet cakes though. Saying they are gross, but it's obvious he can't stop eating them. After Fu tries to coach Penny into eating to regain her strength Biggie also tries. Telling her she can't really get revenge on an empty stomach. She confesses she's not really sure if she even wants to get that anymore.

Fu returns to the academy and sleeps, having another dream of the monkey man. He tries to get more information from him but ends up being encouraged to incorporate a zeal for what he does in all things. Just like he does with cooking. Fu does so the next day, often getting himself heart but achieving more than he was before. Eventually he unlocks the Kung Fu given to him by the master. Slash's students show their typical irrelevance for others and are put to shame by Fu. Bringing food to Penny and Biggie Fu sees Penny doing Chinese Yo-Yo tricks. He's amazed and they strike up a conversation with her thanking him for helping them. She suggests they take a walk in the forest and he agrees to accompany her. She tells him about how she use to train with her brothers in Kung Fu. She expresses having fond memories of that but when she was fifteen a circus came into town. She saw acrobats being performed and how it made people happy. She says that's the difference between it and Kung Fu. Wanting to make people happy she snuck out to pursue Acrobatics with the Circus without a word to her father. She starts thinking about how she wasn't there to protect him and almost let's Fu know who she is but changes the topic to him. What his life has been like. He tells her it isn't very interesting, or wasn't until an old game told him to give something to the man's daughter. She almost learns what Fu's mission is when a fly interrupts them with it's buzzing and Fu catches it. She is convinced that she was right- he is a Kung Fu master. He tries to tell her that he isn't. She attacks him to try to prompt him to prove her right but he doesn't retaliate. He just tells her that he cooks at the Martial Arts academy, Tiger Academy. She gets a bit frustrated, he asks if she knows about it, she expresses that she's heard how they changed leadership recently. He tells her that a ceremony will soon be held to finalize the new leadership with Slash showing some tablet as proof of him being the rightful successor. She, tells Fu to leave and he asks if she is the one who attacked Slash- because Fu's suspected such. She tells him he needs to go and stop asking questions. Closing the door behind her she in this state determines again that she'll have her revenge.

Back at the academy Slash notices that Fu is working far more swiftly and agile than any other worker. Slash comes to the conclusion his sister Penny did, that Fu knows Kung Fu. Worried about the result of his ceremony- that this Fu may be working with his sister, Slash has the right hand arrange for Fu to be followed. Fu can tell he's being followed once he leaves, with some veggies to bring to Penny in hopes of getting on her good side again. Penny is already gone but the right hand and two students of Slash have Fu captured as they find his behavior suspicious.

The next day the ceremony begins with much jubilee though important guests are rather surprised that it's Slash who will be the new master of the Tiger Academy. Slash however sooths their concerns with his greeting them as fellow heroes and masters of the land. Slash, after twice failing to show the tablet has devised a solution to work his plan. He has had a new tablet made and tells the audience that it represents a new era with an image to honor the ancestors. It is indeed, his best ploy though this news is upsetting to the crowd. For the first time in the film, Slash decides to fight openly and physically in an arena to prove himself before those gathered who doubt him. A turtle, one of the important guests, a master in one of the lands under the academy's influence, accepts. Stating his reasons- the suspicious disappearance of the old master and Slash having a dishonorable reputation and one lacking of heart. Slash steadies his mind, despite the insult. Knocking the turtle out of the ring with the help of mystical power Slash stands triumphant. Two tigers, twin masters of one of the subservient realms, enter with drawn weapons. Slash takes a weapon from a rack, maintaining a steady mind, knowing he can't resort to what he's been. He successfully knocks them both out of the fight. Despite the general discontent of the crowd, Slash seems close to having what he desires. Leadership over the realm. It's then that Penny challenges him. Having gotten a little bit of a power high, and seeing the crowd cheer for Penny he let's his villainy be known openly as she already has his right hand ready to speak against him. He tells the crowd he's too powerful to be challenged, and they've seen it in an attempt to demotivate them but that justifies their feelings about him. Penny moved by his honesty on this matter makes it known her intentions- to kill him. To have her revenge for the death of her father. Their duel to the death begins in the arena and Fu off in Peking is liberated by some magical power which propels him into the heavens. Slash has Penny at his sword, he's about to slay her- to his knowledge the only person with a rightful claim against him. When after mentioning sending Penny to the heavens to be with their father a storm appears. He stops, unsure what is happening when Fu comes down like a meteor. Slash having wondered how this Fu is for a long time asks him directly. Fu tells him he's come to give something to Penny, which is short of Penelope, as he now realizes this. He presents the tablet, the crowd is now certain the master intended her to rule the realm. Slash tries to cut Fu down and take the tablet for himself. Penny tries to protect him and is nearly killed but Fu throws the tablet breaking the sword at her throat and Slash catches the tablet.

He declares himself the new master, but everyone- even Penny- believes the tablet bestows powers that make one too powerful to defeat. Fu is determined to fulfill his mission, and challenges Slash. Slash calls his students and guards to his side. Fu faces them using the Kung Fu he's unlocked. Slash and Fu remain in the arena and Slash lays many blows upon Fu but Fu keeps getting up. Slash finally resorts to his old ways, trying to poison Fu only for the palm strike to be diverted to himself. Poisoned Slash continues to fight unwilling to loose when thinking himself so close. Fu ends up slapping the paint around his eyes off, showing everyone that he's not even a Panda before Fu slams him into the ground. Everyone expect Fu to become the new master.

Relaxing on a grassy hill, Penny now ruler of the realm, asks Fu what he wants to do now. Biggie also wants him to be the new master, while Penny would be content to govern. Fu would rather go back home, selling sweet cakes but after hearing a cry for help he decides he can be a sweet cake making martial arts superstar. The three rush off to answer the call for help which is actually the gator and the frog (the would be bandits) from earlier now being robbed by former students of Slash who have taken up banditry.

Reception[]

The film was released in 62 countries, and received widely negative reviews due to anticipated similarities with the 2008 Dreamworks film Kung Fu Panda. The film was obviously trying to compete with it and due to a history of China creating rip-offs of Western media it was expected to be another example of such. The film bombed even in its native land, in part due to a great lack of Kung Fu philosophy in the narrative.

Viewing Links[]

English Trailer

2014 trailer

Sources[]

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