prodigy prodigy
Feature Film

The Prodigy

No, it’s not Kung Fu Panda… it’s SO not Kung Fu Panda.

Yeah, once again it’s time to take note a knock-off DVD, but this one – The Prodigy – was not created by anonymous drones in some third world country, but by former Disney and Dreamworks artists.

Here’s the synopsis:

KG – the ‘Kung Fu Girl’ with a big heart – is an underdog. When the odds are against her, she discovers that there is no limit to what she can accomplish when she believes in herself. With the help of her brave yet zany Master Panda, KG sets off on a journey to restore justice to her beautiful kingdom and rescue her beloved prince. “A hilarious side-splitting animated feature, THE PRODIGY delivers Non-Stop Kung Fu Fun!”

Yeah, right.

According to a press release they foolishly sent me:

The film represents a milestone for Writer/Director Robert D. Hanna, who created Prevalent Entertainment as an independent animation house that has employed an American team without outsourcing to foreign animators, and performs outside of the big studio system.

Some top CG Animators, Production Designers, and Artists from DreamWorks, Sony, and Disney studios all contributed. An integral part of the team is David Colman of Disney Feature Animation; he’s an Emmy Award winning artist who generated character designs for The Prodigy. David Lowery (Head of story on Shrek) was producer and supervisor of the story department, and Craig Elliott (Shark Tale, Bee Movie) was the inventive production designer. Steve Gordon (Shrek II, Anastasia, Over The Hedge) created essential story boards to flesh out the meaningful romantic storyline. Instructive Bonus Featurettes on the DVD illustrate a primer for future animators on “Animated Character Creation” and bringing the “Story To Life”; they document the pre-production work of the talented artists and animators who worked tirelessly on the film.

You be the judge. The trailer is embedded below.

  • Wait…this is a satire of such cheap knockoffs, right?

  • This looks like it mightve been cool as a novelty TV series in 1994.

  • Oh. My.

    If that is the best that American animators can do “without outsourcing to foreign animators” then someone, quick, get South Korea on the line!!


    And who did the v/o for that trailer?? My *Kindle* reads better.

  • um… wow that was horrible. The only relation to kung fu panda is um there is a panda in this. Can it really be true that these people worked on this film or is it a joke?

  • why do I get the feeling that the Disney/Dreamworks animators on this were lesser ones brought in for cheap?

    Pretty awful material. As bad as those Brazilian Pixar knock-offs.

  • Yikes. The phrase “Heebie Jeebies” comes to mind.

  • So some pedigreed animation artists and storytellers joined forces to create a film that can easily be dismissed as a knock-off? Way to go!

  • Jason

    This has *got* to be a gag.

  • Kyle

    You got punk’d. I hope. There is NO WAY this is real. Right? Please tell me this is a joke because it’s way beyond bad.

  • This is a joke.

    Or a lie. A horrible, horrible lie.

    I’m going to close my eyes now.

  • Ben

    Wow…judging by the quality of the animation, the pedigrees mean absolutely nothing. Maybe there’s a reason those people are not working for the studios anymore? This looks worse than most video games do these days. It’s completely painful to watch.

  • michael

    this looks like a poorly conceived computer game regretfully played after finding it in a cereal box.

  • Rich T.

    Wow. It looks like an ad for a bad video game…using the game engine for the animation.

  • Man, this looks worse than Delgo. Like, a lot worse.

  • Isaac

    CartoonBrew, please, please, please conduct an interview with Robert D Hanna.

  • Gobo

    This has to be a joke. It looks worse than the fake 3D movies on “Tim & Eric Awesome Show”.

  • Dave

    My first thought was this must be an elaborate hoax… right ?

    Well, if not a (intentional) joke it’s nice to see that non-faith based animation projects can descend to this level of ineptitude , too.

    I notice that none of the people being credited blamed for this turd have it listed on their IMDB credits, so they’re either well aware of how bad it is or the whole thing is hoax.

  • It looks like it has to be satire, doesn’t it? After combing over the website and looking into this Robert Hanna fellow, though, I’m convinced it’s a kitschy vanity project gone wrong. It’s all there: the extensive resume padding, the incoherent copywriting, the web-ring link at the bottom of the homepage (what is this, 1995?), the obviously self-written IMDB biography – vanity-press hacks do it the exact same way in print publishing, and I’ve seen it all before.

    It’s still hilarious. “This has *got* to be a gag”? I sure gagged.

  • Mike Johnson


    This is an embarrassment to the animation community as a whole. How could anyone involved in this even BEGIN to think that it was worthy of release?

    I honestly can’t remember seeing anything more cringe-worthy in my life, and Ive seen plenty. Really, this is just an abomination, an animated abortion of such epic proportions that I don’t know where to begin.

    Completely unappealing character designs, uninspired backgrounds, sloppy rendering…my God!

    I’ve never actually feel angered by anything animated, but this has just done it. As I mentioned before, this is embarrassing for everyone working in this industry.

    “Top CG animators, Production Designers, and Artists from DreamWorks, Sony, and Disney studios?”

    Yeah, top of the list for recommendation for a career in the sanitation or food service industries maybe, since this is obviously a piece of garbage that would have been better off deep fried than released.

    Now excuse me while I go get some therapy lest I never get a decent night’s sleep again…

  • Dave

    Ok, now that I’ve watched more of the excerpts from “The Prodigy” posted on YouTube I am convinced this is a brilliant, spot-on parody of bad animated movies. This is genius. It’s the ‘What’s Up Tiger Lily?’ of animation.

    C’mon watch that clip and tell me this isn’t an intentional parody of all the Goodtimes Video and Vídeo Brinquedo knock-offs of Disney,Pixar, and Dreamworks films .

  • Mike Johnson

    By the way folks…this is currently for sale at Wal Mart, so it is not just a joke.

    And to think I never thought I’d feel sorry for Wal Mart…

  • Justin

    Come on guys, this can’t POSSIBLY be a real film. It’s a hilarious, cringe-worthy parody of all those low budget knock off films like What’s Up and Titanic: The Animated Musical. I mean it looks like it was put together by a 10 year old in the pre-Reboot era! Nobody can put actual effort into something this sinfully bad!

  • Scott

    I’m sure many of the artists listed did, indeed, contribute to this film. HOWEVER, I’m also sure they did a freelance drawing or two, and had nothing to do with the actual production of the film. Hanna’s ego wouldn’t have allowed it. Hanna is A HACK. There, I said it. And any brush with quality (like work of some of the artists listed) is blown WAAAAY out of proportion. The film looks hideous, but this is what I think is going on. It’s happened this way a thousand times!

    Kind of like this, from his IMDB Bio:
    “Robert also had the honor to score music in The Pursuit Of Happiness, a film by the great director, Robert Zemeckis.”

    Actually the music in this movie was scored by
    Andrea Guerra.

  • Definitely has to be a gag. There’s no possibility that this was meant to be a serious release heh heh.

  • Well I’m still willing to give the artists the TINIEST benefit of the doubt:

    Maybe they all made a silent pact to see how bad they could make this movie and still get paid by their.. somewhat optimistic writer/director.

    A hoax/satire still seems the most likely explanation, though…

  • Grant

    My first reaction was a stomach clenching “Oh gawd”, and that was less than 10 seconds into it.

    Looks like the animation and rendering was done in Poser3.

  • *vomit*

  • doug holverson

    Hallelujah! Now non-Christian kiddies can suffer through no-budget bad animation too!

    I wonder if this was one of those “work free on my animation project to get something on your resume” dealies….

    Sooooooooo… if knockoff panda got into a fight with the Lamb of Judah, who would win?

  • I agree with Scott’s and Amy’s theories – how long will it be before one of the credited artists asks to have his name taken off the project? – and my vote stays with “not a hoax”. The idea that we’re all being played, however reassuring, doesn’t explain the extent of incompetence and narcissism on display.

    It doesn’t explain, for instance, why Robert Hanna would intentionally embarrass himself with a website for Prevalent Entertainment, Inc. (on a free .org subdomain, no less) that claims, “Currently, through Prevalent, Robert Hanna has been contracted to write and direct THE PRODIGY, a CG animated family film for worldwide distribution.” Yes, “contracted”, by himself. None of this is about animation, business, or any reasonable standard of what is or isn’t fit for public eyes. It’s all about Robert Hanna.

    Sad to say, this is hardly a unique case in the annals of Internet kitsch. There are a lot of people out there who don’t have the skill to create something worthy of the minimal standards of public consumption, and delude themselves into thinking that by doing something “independent”, they are inherently subverting the evil studio system (or the recording industry, or the New York publishing houses, or whatever). But instead of directing their efforts towards skillful artistic expression within their means, the faux-independent hacks would rather live the fantasy of having their own company, distributing via mass-market retail, and doing what the big boys do.

    We shouldn’t judge Mr Hanna by the standards of anything resembling animation. We should judge him by the standards of, I don’t know, Twilight fan fiction or something.

    Not a hoax.

  • That can’t be real.. It just can’t! It looks like bad Machinima. Am I wrong or did they use a man’s voice to do the female panda’s voice?

  • So why does this look and move worse than your average video game from 5 years ago if this is supposedly done by some many Dreamworks and Disney professionals?

  • This has to be a joke!!!

    Panda reminds me of Eric Cartman from South Park…

  • Shecky

    A big clue to this mystery is that it isn’t even listed at IMDb.

  • Euuuggh. >:P

    Just because you CAN CG-animated doesn’t mean you SHOULD.

  • fishescorn

    This is the website of the animation director for this little gem of a film.
    There is no way an artist such as David Colman is associated an any way with a “film” such as this.

    ‘Nuff said.

  • Corporal

    WARNING! Whatever you do DO NOT google Prevalent Entertainment!!! You will go blind. I hope nobody spent any money on this. You can get free website templates that look better than this. I have a hard time believing this company actually exists and this isn’t some elaborate smear campaign. Why would anyone do this to themselves?

  • Scott

    BTW–if you thought his animation was bad, check out Hanna’s [so-called] “music.” ECK! Just awful.

  • elan

    This makes “The Lion of Judah” look Oscar worthy

  • eso

    Sometimes people need jobs and money. Freelance or whatever. Don’t go pissing on these people because the contributed to a cheap product. I have recently gotten a large amount of money (that i NEED in this recession) from a horrible hack job of a kids’ book that is the equivalent of one of these fake movies. Do I care about that book? Am I some awful person who is proud of a knockoff product? No. I have rent I need to pay. Someone had a need of a service, they paid me, I did it, the end. I’ve done design work for horribly bad websites, for example I made their logo or designed buttons. Did I code their website or design the entire website? no. Just as if you worked at Kinko’s and someone copied their awful zine at your store, you got the money for the service he needed.
    Here’s another thing you might not be thinking of. When I was in LA, the first thing I was told was to get my name on as many productions as possible. Maybe they either need that or simply don’t care. I mean, if you have good enough qualifications what’s the problem with getting paid to do something that ended up bad. It happens to everyone in that business.

  • Selvagem

    wow… this thing is offensive on so many levels, never mind just the horrendous production values but the faux asian voices…

  • Doofus

    That looks horrendous. Like a bunch of cheap college students.

  • Wow…This looks like a video game. A video game that wasn’t working out as such, so they decided to turn it into a movie instead.

  • Mandy

    It’s real. It’s also selling on amazon. One of the comments made me laugh. “It’s good for an indie film.”

  • N

    MY EYES!!! MY EYES!!!

    That page turn effect, though? Keepin’ it classy.

    Is this a joke? I sure hope it is.

  • FP

    Well, that smacks my bitch up.

  • Kasey

    I don’t know if anybody mentioned this but on the very real chance something this bad is actually on the market there is a good possibility he could be sued.

    If you go here to the gallery page and scroll near the bottom
    there is an image where you can CLEARLY see the MORTAL KOMBAT LOGO right there on the wall.

    If this is real the artists didn’t try TO hard thats for sure.

  • “This makes “The Lion of Judah” look Oscar worthy”

    LOL, my thoughts exactly, elan! :-D

    “They know how to Rock… And Roll!”

    …And Suck!!

    This is certainly confusing, I’m visiting right now the website of one of the artists that (supposedly) participated in that… thing, and it’s a pretty cool site with impressive artwork.

    So what happened?

  • Keith Paynter

    Benjamin James Wigmore says:
    “This has to be a joke!!!
    Panda reminds me of Eric Cartman from South Park…”

    I’d go as far as saying this isn’t even good enough to compare to SP’s “Make Love, Not Warcraft”, made with the help of Blizzard Ent., creators of WoW.

    My eyes!! The goggles do nothing!

  • This is amazing. I can’t believe it took them so long to produce such a masterpiece. Everything is a work of art; the uneven production design, the uninspired character animation, the incomplete and sloppy rendering… dare I say, WAL*MART may indeed set this on the DVD rack right next to the original KFP such that senior citizens purchasing a fun video for their grandkids won’t know the difference, and the entertainment value will be exactly the same…

  • Vanessa

    Oh god, I think I just found my email signature.

    This is hilarious. I can’t believe that this is unintentional. Look at the “Free Fun Stuff” page and tell me this isn’t a joke:

    They can’t even spell “stationery” correctly. OR THE NAME OF THE MOVIE ON THE COPYRIGHT AT THE BOTTOM OF EVERY PAGE.

    “Copyright © 2009 The Protigy Animated Film with Kung Fu Fun”

  • If he makes money on it he’ll have the last laugh on everyone.

  • There is nothing more relevant than a Matrix reference. Hey, it worked for Osmosis Jones! Le ugh. The environments featured in this trailer reminded me of both Beast Wars and a sub-par Dreamcast game. The fact that those are the two properties that come to mind does not bode well for this company, supposedly staffed by ‘professionals’. I think the most cringe-inducing moments include how the panda ‘eats’ the watermelon (in other words, the watermelon just kind of vanishes) and the drummer who appears to be the same color as the wall just behind him. As I said: Le UGH.

  • Peanut

    I laughed, then I cried.

  • Now the guys who made had to be on drugs !!!!

  • eso – I agree, I think if these apparently highly-skilled artists DID work on this, they did it just as a job, because there is NO love apparent up there on screen.
    Maybe Hanna couldn’t pay them much, so they gave him exactly his money’s worth and not one penny more… and got what lulz they could out of it.

    Even in this economic climate, you still get what you pay for.

  • Allen Smithy Tu

    I saw the credit roll. It seemed to be all done by an Allen Smithy. Hmmmm?

  • Matthew K Sharp

    But look on the bright side – at least no one can accuse them of hiring inappropriate celebrity voice artists.

  • Check out the Mortal Kombat logo on the wall in the trailer.

  • Daniel J. Drazen

    I don’t know if pandas are an endangered species, but for this panda I’ll make an exception. He lost me with that careless watermelon-eating sequence in th trailer. What happened there; it just disappeared! Beyond bad. Wait until it’s remaindered then watch it while making rude remarks for a giggle.

  • Karen

    The production design of this travesty is astonishingly bad. Looks like Shrek!

  • Want this recession to be over NOW!

  • @ Vigos & Kasey: You’re right! What is this?? Did the artists try to deliberately sabotage this production?

    And check the blogs:

    Submitted by Master Panda on Fri, 06/18/2010 – 17:28.

    Hi, I’m Master Panda. I run the Panda Temple in humble Panda Town. Although I look so young and physically fit, I have years of wisdom and expertise in the art of Kung Fu. My strategy is to make my opponent think I’m an easy little pushover, and then I use his own strength against him. I’ve tripped up the best fighters and made them look like a silly fool.

    Before KG’s father disapeared, I promised him that I would look out for his little girl. Much to my surprise, KG proved to be talented beyond her years at the Martial Arts, and I knew that she was a Prodigy. I trained her day after day for years and she became highly skilled in Kung Fu. The only drawback is that she is just a sweet little girl and doesn’t have enough power to take on some of the strong enemies that declare war on our beautiful province.”

    OMG! Master Panda is so Pand-awesome that he can even blog FROM THE FUTURE!

    This movie has now become, after Roswell and the Moon landing, my next favorite conspiracy theory :-P

  • Wow. Amazingly horrible. It looks like machinima.

    And yet… great find? What a world, what a world!

  • Steve Gattuso

    I’ve seen better animation for Nasonex.

    Does anyone else remember that 30 second piece with a really badly designed bear doing a set of awful poses that was done by a student getting back the lousy job his school did of teaching him computer animation?

    Nice to see he still found work after all.

  • david

    what’s with all the negativity? i thought it was kind of silly and funny. pairing a hot video game girl and a weird looking panda. i like the concept. obviously low budget, but still the premise seems more promising than the jack black panda stuff.

  • Did they lay everyone off before production got under way?

    Although, I love the watermelon disappearance!

  • Walty

    I’m rolling over.

  • At first i thought this was just awful. And it is. But it got me thinking. How much do budget knock off’s like this make as a profit? This could be a well thought out plan to make the most amount of money for the minimal amount of effort… either that or its just a massive in-joke!

  • Feo

    I don’t have time to read all the comments, so forgive me if this has been mentioned.

    0:47 into the trailer.

    Midway gonna sue them, ya think?

    Fatality to “The Prodigy”!

  • Wow! This is very cheap, really cheap! And the animation is horrible!

  • Anthony

    this has to, MUST be, a joke.

  • While this is awfully bad, I think it is unfortunate that cartoonbrew feeds the minds of uneducated people with comments like : “anonymous drones in some third world country”.
    so I guess that means third world countries are incapable of producing high quality work? so sad such a comment from this website.

  • Rio

    There’s no way it’s not a joke. No feature animator would degrade themselves by just moving rigs around using zero animation principles. That’d be career suicide.

  • monzster

    haha that was a funny joke.
    i could see it being successful on adult swim.

  • God I hope it’s a parody.

  • Terry Jacobs

    Movies looks pretty awful, wish MST3000 was still around. I will say the girl looks kinda cute; she’s not bad, she’s just rendered that way.

  • David Cuny

    It is amazingly cheap, but like Simon Smith suggested, by keeping the production costs down so low, they’ve probably got a reasonable amount of profit.

    For example, they seem to have rendered everything with the “Fast Preview” settings on. You can see the polygons on the panda, so even that’s a low resolution model. The shadows are so blurry that my first impression was I didn’t think they were there at all. The lighting is all washed out, and the textures are stretched and blurry.

    I don’t know how harsh I’d be on the animators – I’m sure these characters were minimally rigged, so it would be hard to get a good performance out of them even if you tried.

    Is it just my imagination, or does the panda look more like a koala bear?

  • If this is an ironic joke, it’s a damn good one.

    If it’s not… god help those poor bastards, ’cause that looks terrible on every level.

  • Mike Johnson

    I’m a little bit surprised that some people are being apologists and attempting to explain away this horrid thing using the old ‘starving artist’ explanation. If anything, it was probably Mr. Hanna’s sole objective to 1) capitalize on the success of Kung Fu Panda by 2) animating a similar genre piece as cheaply as humanly possible in order to 3) score massive profits from unsophisticated parents picking it up for their kids because “hey honey, look! It’s another Kung Fu Panda movie that looks kinda cute!”

    Robert Hanna is probably a nice enough guy in real life, and I am sure that all of the animators are too. However, the result of their combined efforts does NOT speak kindly of their talent, but does speak volumes about his greed.

    Just because a project CAN be made does not mean that it SHOULD be made.

    The American public has become a lot more savvy about animation since the dawn of Pixar, and seeing something like this can only serve to hurt other, more deserving indie studios who try to release GOOD product and may not be seen because people get burned from purchasing junk like this.

    Heck, Nina Paley did ‘Sita Sings the Blues’ all by herself, and it towers so far above this film that it’s like setting a Lego block next to the Empire State building!

    ’nuff said.

  • eso

    ALL of us have worked on something we didn’t like or a company that sucked. Doesn’t matter if it’s a movie or ANY type of job under the sun. I’m not going to apologize for the awful websites some of my art is on, I simply did work when it came along because that’s my job. And I certainly wasn’t the brainiac behind those sites either. I was asked for a service, I provided it… months later I see what the client did and.. oh well.

    I worked in a studio on an AWFUL animated film long ago, but there were great artists there. But it was out of their hands. They didn’t make any decisions on that film, and they certainly didn’t have great working conditions. Then it ended and we all went on to the other projects at different companies. It doesn’t matter that the movie didn’t speak kindly to their talent. I can point to their portfolios and show you that they do fine work, I don’t need to point at a past employer. Do I think some of my employers or clients were in showbiz for artistic integrity? Pssh. I doubt it, nor do I care. It would be NICE, but it doesn’t work that way sometimes. Are these artists supposed to walk around with some cartoon moral compass to please animation fans? Please.

  • Kirb


  • Diego Otero: That’s a really ridiculous assumption of what Jerry meant. Just because there ARE anonymous drones in some third world countries doesn’t mean that’s ALL there is, and all there’s ever capable of being.

  • Hey, I saw this game on Nintendo 64. The graphics were pretty lame, but the fighting was pretty good for drinking games. The best part is when you defeat your opponent, and then punch in this secret code on the joystick, and your guy whips out a present. Friendship!

    But, seriously, is this for real? It can’t be real. You must be kidding me. But I’m laughing a lot at the video clips on their website, so this might be fun for the MST3K set and stoners. Beyond that, I don’t feel like knocking the people who made it. They’re obviously very low on the totem pole, and made this cartoon with no resources and no budget. This movie doesn’t deserve your scorn. Michael Bay deserves your scorn.

  • vzk

    If you want to see a true parody of all the crappy CGI animation that’s out there, watch Xavier: Renegade Angel. It also pokes fun at all the pseudo-Eastern philosophy that this garbage seems to spew.

  • En Ming Hee

    You wanna know what they did in Third World Countries? Check this out. THIS franchise is currently one of the hottest animated series in China, and about to start its third season already.

  • FP

    –THIS franchise is currently one of the hottest animated series in China–

    That looks great! But, the music by Wing hurts my ears.

  • Yes, it’s a real film. I was embarrassed to find this film at Wal-Mart. Well, at least it’s a domestic film (albeit a poor one)!

    Judging from the trailer, not bad… for a student film.


    Impressive website

  • Justin

    I find it interesting that Robert Hanna claims to have worked at Dreamworks and Disney Animation, and yet his IMDB listing only lists 3 movies that he wrote/produced/directed. After 7 years at Dreamworks you’d think he would’ve wound up with at least 1 screen credit.

  • my sister rented this today, its very dumb. Please do not rent this unless you plan on making a youtube poop. A guy farts out a rock for gods sake!

  • anna

    Drones in a third world country? Why don’t you uneducated artists go to school, get educated in something that makes an actual difference to the world and get REAL JOBs isntead of critisizing countries that haven’t industrialized because YOU NORTH AMERICANS use half of the world’s resources.