Home> Arts
Buddhist blockbuster in theaters now

The Shaolin Temple (1982) was a milestone for Chinese film and helped set Jet Li on the path of becoming a household name, first in China and later the world. Now a new action-blockbuster called simply Shaolin, starring Andy Lau, Fan Bingbing and Nicholas Tse with Jackie Chan in a special cameo, opened nationwide Wednesday.

Shaolin's Benny Chan has made many memorable action films in Hong Kong, such as, Who Am I? (1998) and Divergence (2005). This time Chan is combining his trademark action and kung fu skills with emotions and inner portraits.

"There is pressure about remaking such an influential kung fu classic but we feel confident as well. We've focused not only on the actions and martial-arts side, but also on the true spirit of Zen and Buddhism," the director said at last week's Beijing premier.

Hong Kong actor-pop star Andy Lau, despite having little martial-arts background, stars as a warlord with good fighting skills, while action star Jackie Chan plays a quiet monk reluctant to display any of his famous fighting skills in Shaolin.

"Audiences will be surprised to see director Chan not doing kung fu on screen. Lau is not an action star but he is an amazing actor with his own way of performance and expression," said direc-tor Chan, "I want to explain that true Shaolin is not just its eye-catching kung fu action, but also inner peace of mind and one's comprehension of nature."

Having converted to Buddhism 20 years ago, Lau agrees with director Chan's understanding of the 1,500-year-old Shaolin culture and it has been his dream to get involved in Shaolin-related activities. "I have a special bond with Buddhism, whose spirit has always influenced me. I [have] turned down roles involving sex scenes ever since my convention, and for Shaolin, I gave my best to the role and the Shaolin spirit," said Lau.

1   2