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Shaolin Temple to Shot Films and TV Series

Chinese filmmakers have shot many films and TV shows based on stories about monks of the famed Shaolin Temple. But this time the Temple has decided to play a big part in filmmaking on its own, sources with the 1,500-year-old temple have said.

Shaolin Cultural Broadcast Company, an affiliated unit of the Shaolin Temple, said the new picture and TV series, both of which were named "Legends of Monk Warriors from Shaolin Temple," were based on a real story about martial-art monks who once lived at the Temple.

Shi Yongxin, the Temple's Abbot, will play chief producer.

The film-making plan, after five-year brewing, won approval from both the State Administration of Religious Affairs and the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, according to the company.

The Shaolin Temple, located in central China's Henan Province, was famous for its martial arts, or kungfu. The Temple was built in 495 and abounds in the legendary stories on the martial monks.

Among them was the one to be adapted for the new picture and TV series. The story occurred at around 1520 when the country was ruled by Emperor Jiajing of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). At that time, 30 kungfu monks, headed by Yuekong, were sent by the Temple to join the Emperor's army to fight against the pirates rampant along the southeast China's coasts. Most of the monks died at the battle fields, said the company.

Unlike the Shaolin films produced before, this time the Shaolin Temple played a major role. The temple made the final decision in theme selection, script writing and the description of Zen, a sect of Buddhism.

What was also different from other films was that a group of Shaolin monks would take part in action designed for the new film. Some monks will even play roles in it, according to the company.

The company said it would join hands with famed film studios from home and abroad to shoot the film. World-class film makers and famous film stars would be invited to join the production. With a total investment of 200 million yuan (about US$24.7 million), the shooting was scheduled to start in the second half of 2006. A synchronized global premiere was slated for early 2008,the company said.

As for the homonymous TV series, the company would join hands with several first-class domestic film makers and invite popular action stars for it. The series is expected to be aired by the spring of 2007.

The company said the to-be-shot picture was the first movie in a planned three-film series. The latter two were respectively called "Kungfu Legends of Shaolin Temple" and "Rebirth of Shaolin Temple from Flames". The script writing of the two pictures has already been finished.

All of the three films, according to the company, have their own 40-part homonymous TV series. The three TV series will cost about 100 million yuan (about US$12.3 million), according to the company.

(Xinhua News Agency September 11, 2005)

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