Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Shaolin: Kung Fu Buddhism (film)

Lewis Beale (Washington Post, Sept. 9, 2011)
Buddhist monks in "The 36th Chamber of Shaolin” (The Weinstein Company)

[It's] arguably the most popular franchise in film history, featuring the 1,500-year-old martial-arts tradition of some Chinese Buddhist monks.
The Shaolin Temple, founded in the fifth century, has been the key element in hundreds of movies and TV shows: “Kids From Shaolin,” “American Shaolin,” “The 36th Chamber of Shaolin,” “Shaolin Soccer” -- and now “Shaolin,” a new movie starring Jackie Chan and Andy Lau that debuted Friday on video-on-demand.

All are based on the martial-arts practices of the Buddhist monastery -- a special brand of kung fu that combines physicality and Buddhist spirituality and is, according to the Shaolin Temple’s Web site, “based on a belief in the supernatural power of Buddhism.”

“Most people don’t realize kung fu is internal and external, a peaceful and a martial application, and a Shaolin movie will include both... “Shaolin is all about spirituality, karma, your well-being,” adds Doris Pfardrescher of Well Go USA, which is distributing “Shaolin.” All other martial-arts films are “ just about action, fighting,” she adds, “but Shaolin is about religion, spirituality, being with Buddha.” More