Archive for the Shaolin Temple 少林寺 Category

“Shaolin” [新少林寺] (2011) – Exclusive Review [Sweet & Sour Cinema / Sweet & Sour Cinema Exclusive Review]

Posted in Andy Lau 刘德华, Buddhism, China, Fan Bingbing 范冰冰, Hong Kong, Jackie Chan 成龙, Kung Fu 功夫, Martial Arts, Nicholas Tse 谢霆锋, Shaolin Temple 少林寺, Sweet & Sour Cinema, Sweet & Sour Cinema exclusive flim review on September 9, 2011 by Zuo Shou / 左手

“Shaolin” [新少林寺] (2011) – Review by Zuo Shou 左手

Directed by Benny Chan

Starring: Andy Lau, Nicholas Tse, Fan Bingbing, Jackie Chan

Review of Mandarin version, w/o English subs

[Qualifier: this reviewer is not fully fluent in Mandarin, which may affect the film appreciation]

Watching this film – the title literally meaning “New Shaolin Temple” – was a happy circumstance for this long-time martial arts film fan: a cinematic experience that surpassed expectations and reached epic significance.

The rich mythos of Shaolin Temple has been heavily mined in action films over the years, yielding several classics: “The 36th Chamber of Shaolin” and “Return to the 36th Chamber” (both starring the inimitable bald-pated Gordon Liu], and Jet Li’s sensational debut “Shaolin Temple” and the sequel “Kids from Shaolin”.

With these classics in the back of my mind, “Shaolin” was looking just ok in the previews, the simulated Shaolin Temple sets having a kind of blah dusty-brown production design. [Jet Li’s “Shaolin Temple” had the distinct advantage of being shot in the authentic environment.] The assignment of HK director Benny Chan had me feeling ambiguous, as he’d previously made some “OK” action movies. I find that while the martial arts in his films can be fine to outstanding, the direction and surrounding elements tend to be pedestrian. It also was weighted with leads getting on in years, Andy Lau and Jacky Chan (who is actually more of a guest star).

The film begins in a milieu of military internecine contesting. Set in a [pre-?] Republican warlord era, Andy Lau is the focus as an amoral officer who, along with his evilly-coiffed 2nd-in-command Cao Man [Nicholas Tse] conquers Chinese territory which includes the legendary Buddhist Shaolin Temple, home of Chinese kung fu. Lau desecrates the place in just the opening minutes.

The first thrilling action sequence is a rollicking battle atop horse-drawn carts jostling at high speeds, which coincides with Lau’s major reversal of fortune.

From this point, the film follows Lau’s redemption, which starts out in a rather lackluster manner. Comparing the scene where Lau cuts his own hair to surrender into monkhood is lackluster compared to the blazing masochistic passion of a similar scene with Gordon Liu in “Eight Diagram Pole Fighter”. Also the plot and ancilliary characters seem to be just kind of plodding along, and one wonders if it’s going to be a good film after all.

Before you know it, it’s turned into something like Jacky Chan’s “Drunken Master II”, with slaves, a foreign plot to rob China of its priceless treasures, and Chinese running dogs facilitating the plunder. All of which is very much to the good; I can’t remember the last time an anti-imperialist theme was used so effectively in a Chinese action film.

Some strong action set pieces explicating Buddhist philosophy bring things up to the next level, and Jacky Chan suddenly is in the middle of the best comic relief action sequence – aided by a bunch of kiddie kung fu monks — that I’ve seen in years. An army attacks Shaolin Temple, and the film is very successful in showing the overcoming of firearms with fists and wit – something that’s usually just a laugh-out-loud proposition on the cinematic screen.

By the end the Temple blows up real good – really, the pyrotechnics are top-notch; the monks have adjusted their ethics dogma and armed themselves with slashing blades to dispatch the wolvish foreigners and their minions to hell, and Andy Lau is redeemed in an amazing scene, I can’t really think of a better representation of Buddhist salvation on cinema. In fact, considering all the films which have been based on Shaolin Temple, mostly they are concerned with the conflict between worldliness/violence and seclusion/pacifism. This one seems to me to have the best portrayals of Buddhism as redemption, making it probably the best overall allegory of the essence of Buddhism. I suppose it’s a credit to Lau that he can credibly pull off his character’s ultimate transformation.

The action by Corey Yuen and Yuen Tak is uniformly excellent without overdoing the wirework or CGI.

Honorable mention should be given to Fan Bingbing, who plays Lau’s warlord wife. While she’s basically a guest-star damsel in distress, she actually shows improvement as an actress, doing some decent emoting that transcends her recent transformation into eye-candy fashionista and cosmetics spokes-model. There’s also a resonant cameo by the actor who played Jet Li’s mentor in the original “Shaolin Temple”, here as the Temple’s abbot who gets a memorable stage exit.

Overall a film which verges on classic-hood, flawed by a mainly mediocre production design and lack of stronger directorial hand to tighten up the first half of the film. By the standards of 21st Century martial films, it’s a classic…

Film Business Asia’s review (by Derek Elley) rates the film 7 out of 10. “Potentially epic tale ends up as okay popcorn entertainment.”

Film Business Asia “Shaolin” review link:

Shaolin (新少林寺) Film Review [Film Business Asia / Sweet and Sour Cinema]

Posted in Andy Lau 刘德华, Fan Bingbing 范冰冰, Jackie Chan 成龙, Kung Fu 功夫, Martial Arts, Nicholas Tse 谢霆锋, Shaolin Temple 少林寺, Sweet & Sour Cinema on February 2, 2011 by Zuo Shou / 左手

by Derek Elley

1 February 2011

Potentially epic tale ends up as okay popcorn entertainment.

Rated 7 out of 10


…As a popcorn movie, Shaolin is an entertaining two-hour-plus ride, with strongly drawn characters, some good action sequences (Andy Lau’s 劉德華 early escape with axes and horses, the temple’s final destruction), and handsome production values with a grey, dusty look to the temple scenes.  Its main problem, as with many of director Benny Chan’s (陳木勝) films (Gen-X Cops 特警新人類, City under Seige [sic] 全城戒備), is that it still promises much more than it actually delivers.

The movie’s original version was reportedly around three hours, and a lot appears to have disappeared in the cutting room while trying to get it down to just over two…

Full article here

New “Shaolin” trailer w/ English subtitles; Andy Lau tonsures, Jackie Chan speaks dialect – UPDATED 2011/1: newer trailer, posters / 《新少林寺》再曝预告 刘德华剃度成龙秀方言 [ / Sweet & Sour Cinema]

Posted in Andy Lau 刘德华, Fan Bingbing 范冰冰, Jackie Chan 成龙, Kung Fu, Nicholas Tse 谢霆锋, Shaolin Temple 少林寺, Sweet & Sour Cinema on December 13, 2010 by Zuo Shou / 左手

UPDATE: 2011/1/9

Newest trailer; unlike previously linked trailer below, there are no English subtitles.   However, this newest trailer does seem to reveal more of the story.  Link:

This link’s page is titled: 《新少林寺》预告 成龙:范冰冰见我就变小鸟  [Literallly translated:  “Shaolin” trailer  —  Jackie Chan: “Fan Bingbing saw me change into a bird”] from December 28, 2010 and has photos from the recent premiere in Beijing attended by the director Benny Chan and aforementioned leads.   The page also has a new poster for the film.

See also the entry from January, “‘Shaolin’ Releases New Poster”, which has yet another new, nice-looking poster.  Text follows:

“Benny Chan’s action movie “Shaolin” has released a new poster featuring the four leading actors in the film  —  Jackie Chan, Andy Lau, Nicholas Tse and Fan Bingbing.

The background of the poster shows the burning Shaolin temple.  To make the temple look older than it actually was, the director asked Chung-Man Hai, the film’s artistic director, to build a second Shaolin Temple.  Chung-Man Hai spent two months and 20 million yuan (US$3 million) building the temple, which is larger than the original Songshan Shaolin Temple.

The story is set in the 1920s when an arrogant warlord named Hou Jie (Andy Lau) is trapped by his follower Cao Man (Nicholas Tse).  Hou loses his family and hides in the Shaolin Temple where he becomes a monk.  As social unrest spreads and people continue to suffer, Hou and the Shaolin monks are forced to take a fiery stand against the evil warlords.

“Shaolin” opens in cinemas nationwide on January 19. “‘Shaolin’ Releases New Poster” link:

Trailer / article link:

Film to be released for Spring Festival (Chinese New Year) on Chinese mainland January 19, 2011.

New “Shaolin” film release in China pushed to early 2011 [Film Business Asia / Sweet & Sour Cinema]

Posted in Andy Lau 刘德华, China, Fan Bingbing 范冰冰, Jackie Chan 成龙, Kung Fu 功夫, Martial Arts, Nicholas Tse 谢霆锋, Shaolin Temple 少林寺 on December 7, 2010 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Stephen Cremin

7 December 2010

Benny Chan’s (陳木勝) martial arts film Shaolin (新少林寺) has had its China release date pushed back to 19 Jan 2011 from its previously announced December slot.

The move was expected — with regional distributors tipped off last month — as it would otherwise have competed head-to-head with co-producer Huayi Brothers’ (華誼兄弟) romantic drama If You are the One 2 (非誠勿擾2).

The film’s A-list cast includes Andy Lau (劉德華), Nicholas Tse (謝霆鋒), Fan Bingbing (范冰冰), Wu Jing (吳京) and Jackie Chan (成龍). It is the first film in 28 years officially endorsed by the Shaolin monastery.

Shaolin will still face tough competition in January, a month that is expected to see the China release of high-profile foreign blockbusters…

Article link:

Chinese kids raised in martial arts environment face uncertain future [People’s Daily]

Posted in China, Education, Employment, Kung Fu 功夫, Labor, Martial Arts, Shaolin Temple 少林寺 on December 2, 2010 by Zuo Shou / 左手

November 25, 2010

Zhao Peiyu felt like he was on top of the world – and it was not because he was suspended almost 80 meters off the ground by steel wires.

On the night of Nov 12, the 19-year-old was among more than 1,600 kungfu students who performed at the opening ceremony of the Guangzhou Asian Games.

“We travel a lot to perform in different places but this time we represented the country’s youth,” he said proudly, pointing at the Asian Games logo on his T-shirt. “We strived to make it the most impressive show we could.”

It is not the first time Zhao has taken center stage at a major event. His school, Tagou Wushu Sports Academy, also helped open the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

However, back home in Central China’s Henan province, the teenager’s mood was less upbeat. The fleeting excitement in Guangzhou had been unable to ease his growing fears about the future.

“I don’t know where to go now I’ve graduated,” said Zhao, who, after training in the Chinese martial art of wushu for more than seven years, feels he is only qualified to “be a coach or join the army”.

Like thousands of others at secondary vocational schools in Dengfeng, one of the spiritual homes of wushu, Zhao’s schooling in standard subjects like Chinese, mathematics and English has taken a back seat to improving his acrobatic and kungfu skills.

On a regular day, he gets up at 5 am to practice zuigun, a stick-fighting style, for roughly two hours before breakfast, usually a steamed bun and porridge. After half a day of classes, he returns to the training area until the late evening.

“Hours of training on the playground is a real test for juveniles,” said Zhao.

At his age, most are talking about another type of test – the gaokao, the national college entrance exam that can potentially make or break a student’s job prospects. Zhao is unlikely to ever sit the exam and has little idea about his options.

At least 90 percent of the students interviewed by China Daily this month at 10 wushu institutes admitted they do not know what they will do after graduation.

Zhang Xuemin, head coach at the city’s Shaolin Temple Martial Arts Training School, said only three or four of its students continue their education at college every year.

In between performing at events home and abroad, most youngsters pin their hopes on earning jobs as coaches. Competition is fierce, however.

Shaolin Temple School has 260 teachers, mostly former students, and every year roughly 2,000 new graduates fight over just 50 vacancies on its staff.

If they fail to win spots at college or become coaches, the only other option is the army, said the school’s deputy director, Men Zhendong. “The worst case scenario for graduates is to work as security guards,” he added.

Men agreed that half a day of study is not enough to prepare youngsters for life after school, but then again many parents are unconcerned. He argued most children are sent to wushu schools to learn discipline, not book smarts.

“Most trainees at these schools were hard to handle at home,” said director Zheng Hongqi, Men’s boss. “Parents need an institute to take care of (the children), so they can dedicate their time and energies to making a living.”

Coaches at Tagou Wushu Sports Academy, the biggest in China, also revealed that the vast majority of its 28,000 students were “problem youths” sent there to be “straightened out”.

* Problem children *

One of them was Zhao Peiyu. He grew up in the suburbs of Anyang, also in Henan, but was enrolled by his family at Tagou in 2003 because he “was too naughty”.

His previous two years at a regular school were filled with on-campus fights and constant warnings from teachers about his behavior.

“I couldn’t stand it (at Tagou) the first few months,” he said. “Practicing in the heat of the afternoon sun left my arms and neck badly burned.”

Most wushu apprentices in Dengfeng fall into three categories: countryside children left behind by migrant workers, children of single parents and children born out of wedlock. According to Chinese psychologists, these groups are all at risk of developing anti-social tendencies, such as over-aggressive attitudes or extreme shyness.

Based on estimates by staff members at all 10 schools visited by China Daily reporters in November, more than 70 percent of their students are from rural families.

“Most of my class was born in the countryside,” said coach Zhang at Shaolin Temple School, which has 10,000 registered students and is funded by the world-famous Shaolin Temple.

“Compared with those from urban areas, rural children can bear the hardships of learning wushu and don’t give up easily,” she said.

One initial hardship is coming to terms with the militaristic management style at wushu institutes. Unlike regular schools, students are often banned from leaving campus on weekdays and even need permission from teachers before they are allowed to leave on weekends.

When China Daily reporters visited Songji Wushu School on Saturday Nov 13, some of its 110 students could even be seen painting railings outside a four-story dormitory building.

Yao Yuqing, director of its general office, defended the decision to get youngsters to decorate for free by arguing that they “had nothing else to do on weekends”.

The school’s website, which features many pictures of the Shaolin Temple but few of its modest classrooms and dirt-covered basketball court, states the annual tuition fee is 1,600 yuan ($240). However, students said they had been charged almost double that.

Yao refused to comment when asked about the price difference or whether the school is fully qualified to teach. Calls to the Dengfeng’s wushu administration office also went unanswered.

Men at Shaolin Temple School said he believes the strict conditions, coupled with “peer pressure”, can help troubled youths learn to “behave better and live independently”.

“The schools are helpful to a stable society,” he added.

In fact, wushu schools have become particularly helpful to the parents of illegitimate children. As these children are often unwelcome among Chinese families, many are unable to go home during national holidays, such as Spring Festival, and are forced to pay extra to stay in their dormitories.

Shaolin Temple School teaches 500 to 600 illegitimate children, according to Men. He would not reveal the charge for the “overtime care” but explained many parents are happy to pay so they can have a “comfortable holiday”.

* Management style *

Wushu was born on the sacred Songshan Mountain, where the Shaolin Temple is located. Although the martial arts lost popularity during the “cultural revolution” (1966-76), the hit movie Shaolin Temple brought it back to the public’s attention in 1982.

By the end of the decade, visitors to Dengfeng soared from just 200,000 a year to 2.6 million.

The boom inspired the city’s residents to open wushu schools and, at the peak in the 1990s, there were up to 500 institutes. Today, just 60 or 70 remain, with most teaching fewer than 1,000 students.

Most schools were originally opened by State and provincial wushu champions and then usually passed on to their sons. Small institutes with fewer than 100 students are still like family workshops, but major ones are run as corporate enterprises, with decisions made by a board of directors.

“As wushu schools are basically private, it makes sense that sons take over their fathers’ businesses,” said Niu Ziming, assistant training manager at Shaolin Temple School. “But the corporate management does good to our long-term development.”

In the school’s performance hall nearby, about 20 students were entertaining dozens of visitors with a dazzling display of acrobatic fighting skills.

Huang Liang, who at 13 is the youngest in the team, contorted and performed a standing split, while his classmate Long Shuang was suspended in the air on three sharp spears strategically placed underneath him.

“Wushu takes patience. You have to do the same action millions of times,” said Zhao Peiyu at Tagou Wushu Sports Academy. “It’s about resolve and perseverance.”

For many wushu students without the necessary skills to survive in China’s tough employment market, perseverance could be vital.

Source: China Daily(By Hu Yongqi and Zhang Leilong)

Article link:

“Shaolin” (‘New Shaolin Temple’) film w/ Andy Lau, Nick Tse, Jackie Chan — China poster & newest trailer with English subtitles / 刘德华谢霆锋戎装斗拳《新少林寺》港版预告 [ 优酷 / Sweet & Sour Cinema]

Posted in Andy Lau 刘德华, China, Fan Bingbing 范冰冰, Jackie Chan 成龙, Nicholas Tse 谢霆锋, Shaolin Temple 少林寺, Sweet & Sour Cinema on November 6, 2010 by Zuo Shou / 左手

Poster for “Shaolin” 《新少林寺》


Looks like this trailer was released September / October, it slipped by my radar.

Anticipating a December 2010 release here in China.

Directed by Benny Chan; Action Director Corey Yuen

Cradle of Chinese Kung Fu, Shaolin Temple kicks its way into UNESCO heritage list with other historic monuments of Dengfeng / Mt. Songshan – PHOTOS [People’s Daily]

Posted in China, Henan Province, Kung Fu 功夫, Martial Arts, Shaolin Temple 少林寺, UNESCO heritage sites / intangible heritage on August 5, 2010 by Zuo Shou / 左手
August 2, 2010

Undated photo shows two monks of Shaolin Temple practicing Chinese kung fu at the Shaolin Temple in central China's Henan Province. The World Heritage Committee decided to include the Chinese Historic Monuments of Dengfeng in the World Heritage List on July 31, 2010, during its 34th meeting taking place in Brasilia, Brazil. (Xinhua/Wang Song)

The home of Chinese kungfu and Zen Buddhism, China’s Shaolin Temple is now part of humanity’s cultural heritage.

Nestled in the Mount Songshan of Central China’s Henan province, the historic architectural complex including the Shaolin Temple was added on Sunday to the UNESCO World Heritage List during a meeting of the World Heritage Committee in Brasilia, Brazil.

Martial arts performers celebrate the Shaolin Temple becoming part of a world heritage site on August 1, 2010. (ZHANG HONGFEI / FOR CHINA DAILY)

The new addition pushed China’s world heritage sites to 39, including 28 cultural heritage sites, seven natural heritage sites and four cultural and natural heritage sites.

UNESCO said the historical architecture complex stands out for its great aesthetic beauty and its profound cultural connotations.

The complex is composed of 11 traditional structures, including the Shaolin Temple, the Observatory, Songyang Academy, Taishi Towers and Zhongyue Temple.

With a history of more than 2,000 years, these monuments feature various architectural styles brimming with ancient Chinese culture.

They provide the world with a glimpse into ancient Chinese religion, philosophy, customs and scientific development, said Yang Huancheng, an expert of ancient architecture.

Shaolin Temple’s abbot Shi Yongxin said the UNESCO decision is a privilege, but it also adds pressure.

“For the monks, living in a world-recognized heritage site is a wonderful experience, but at the same time, our responsibility to protect the temple becomes even graver,” he said.

Tourists visit the Shaolin Temple in central China's Henan Province July 30, 2010. (Xinhua/Wang Song)

Shi, however, said admission prices will not rise, and the temple would try to provide better service for domestic and foreign visitors.

Shi said a higher profile for the Shaolin Temple will heighten the public’s awareness to protect the temple.

“I’m also looking forward to the addition of Shaolin kungfu into UNESCO’s intangible heritage list,” Shi added.

Local officials said they are getting prepared for more tourists from home and abroad.

“We’ve begun to organize tour guides learning to give introductions in English about the world heritage site, considering the increasing number of foreign visitors,” Zhu Jianping, a senior official of Dengfeng tourist bureau, told China Daily on Sunday.

Zeng Jianshu, a local resident, said as more tourists come, his business will undoubtedly benefit, too.

Though many people hailed the news, there were also frowns with some expressing doubts about the benefits to the area.

One netizen surnamed Mu said the arrival of more tourists might lead to an over-commercialization of the site.

“Too many tourists will destroy the tranquility and the sublime beauty of the religious constructions,” Mu said.

Xinhua contributed to this story.

Source: China Daily(By Chen Jia and Li Yuefeng) 

Photo taken on July 30, 2010 shows the pagoda forest of the Shaolin Temple, including 241 pagodas built between 689 and 1803 and 2 modern pagodas, in central China's Henan Province. (Xinhua/Wang Song)

Article link here 


Following photos are from the PD article “Centre of Heaven and Earth” to bid for World Cultural Heritage in 2010 (dated July 31, 2010) 

Undated photo shows that monks of Shaolin Temple running out of the temple's gate in central China's Henan Province. (Xinhua/Wang Song)


Photo taken on July 30, 2010 shows a bas-relief at the Zhongyue Temple in central China's Henan Province. (Xinhua/Wang Song)

Photo taken on July 30, 2010 shows the pagoda forest of the Shaolin Temple in central China's Henan Province. (Xinhua/Wang Song)


Undated photo shows that monks of Shaolin Temple guarding in line outside the temple's gate at the Shaolin Temple in central China's Henan Province. (Xinhua/Wang Song)

Photo taken on July 30, 2010 shows the Yaocan Pavilion at the Zhongyue Temple in central China's Henan Province. (Xinhua/Wang Song)

Photo taken on July 30, 2010 shows a group of stone sculptures at the Songyang Academy in central China's Henan Province. (Xinhua/Wang Song)

Photo taken on July 30, 2010 shows a wooden gateway in front of the Zhongyue Temple in central China's Henan Province. (Xinhua/Wang Song)

Photo taken on July 30, 2010 shows the ancient Dengfeng Observatory, built in Yuan Dynasty(1206-1368), in central China's Henan Province. (Xinhua/Wang Song)

Photo taken on July 30, 2010 shows the gate of the Songyang Academy in central China's Henan Province. (Xinhua/Wang Song)

Photo taken on July 30, 2010 shows the gate of the Songyang Academy in central China's Henan Province. (Xinhua/Wang Song)

Photo taken on July 30, 2010 shows the Junji Hall at the Zhongyue Temple in central China's Henan Province. (Xinhua/Wang Song)

Undated photo shows a Shaolin student practicing Chinese kung fu on the top of a pagoda at the Shaolin Temple in central China's Henan Province. (Xinhua/Wang Song)

Source: Xinhua