If this movie doesn’t make you fall —head over heels— in love with Shaolin Kung Fu, then I don’t know what will.
Seeing some of the moves leaves me in awe of the martial art, and especially of the traditional form they keep repeating: Qi Xing Quan. It does hurt (my mind-body) to see the forms done so beautifully (I know how much effort is put into the practice). We do some of those badass, cool taolu moves as part of form training, albeit (in my case) with much less power, speed and flair of course. So yeah, the acrobatics at once amaze me and are painful to watch (my spine and knees ache by conditioning).
I once tried to do that jump, where you lie back and try to jerk your body up from the ground in one push, and I only ended up convulsing repeatedly on the floor until I gave up, and resigned to trying “another day.”
And no, the Shaolin Temple doesn’t look half as glorious as it does in this picture. Grace, power and machismo aside, some of those monks probably smell of sweat in real life as well (it’s the intensity of the training and the scarcity of warm water). And many modern monks are now dreaming of becoming rich, leaving China altogether and moving to Europe or the States. But surprisingly, even that won’t turn you off, not completely.
It’s a really bare and hard life here for some, and with internet waves and 3G phones invading every part of China, even the cradle of Zen is whimpering in fear as tradition is fading and a greed for shiny, expensive things and a different quality of life is building up among its ranks.
Alas, the kind of dreamy romance that enlightenment seekers yearn for is probably only there in blockbuster movies.