Po (voice of JACK BLACK), an out of shape panda, has always dreamed of being a martial arts fighter. Yet, his lack of fitness means he's probably relegated to one day taking over the noodle shop run by his father, Mr. Ping (voice of JAMES HONG). When word gets out that esteemed martial arts legend Master Oogway (voice of RANDALL DUK KIM) is going to announce the new Dragon Warrior, Po enthusiastically races to the Jade Palace to watch the ceremony.
The odds on favorite would seem to be one of The Furious Five, the quintet of students training under Oogway's assistant, Shifu (voice of DUSTIN HOFFMAN). Yet, for all of their martial arts prowess, Tigress (voice of ANGELINA JOLIE), Monkey (voice of JACKIE CHAN), Mantis (voice of SETH ROGEN), Viper (voice of LUCY LIU) and Crane (voice of DAVID CROSS), don't make the sort of accidental impression Po does. To everyone's shock, Oogway announces he'll be the next Dragon Warrior.
Nobody's more surprised than Po, and Shifu immediately sets out to prove the roly-poly panda is the wrong choice. Yet, Po perseveres, and Shifu eventually realizes the wisdom of Oogway's decision. All of which is important since feared warrior Tai Lung (voice of IAN McSHANE) has escaped from the prison run by Commander Vachir (voice of MICHAEL CLARKE DUNCAN) and is now headed for the Jade Palace, desirous of being the Dragon Warrior, a role he believes is rightly his.
With time running out, Shifu tries to train Po as best as he can for the confrontation, with the initially reluctant Furious Five soon joining forces with him to battle Tai Lung.