The Real Shaolin

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The path of a warrior monk is not an easy one, even if their jaw-dropping martial arts feats can appear effortless. THE REAL SHAOLIN follows two Chinese and two Western students of kung fu over months of difficult lessons and life-changing experiences, revealing just how much hard work goes into those dazzling moves.

First-time director Alexander Sebastien Lee is a Korean-American who originally visited China’s Shaolin Temple to study kung fu. His insider’s knowledge pays off immensely, and he gains incredible access to the different schools set up around Shaolin. Though we do not have to suffer their aches and pains, we get our own education by following the four students. From China, nine-year-old orphan Yuan Peng learns the mystical practice of “Iron Body Qigong,” and Zhu, a teenager from a poor rural family, trains in the kick-boxing sport of Sanda. From the West, a nineteen-year-old American named Orion aspires to become like his hero Bruce Lee, and Eric, a twenty-nine-year-old Frenchman, yearns to study with the Shaolin Grand Master Shi De Yang. The film skillfully weaves together their trials and tribulations as each strives to achieve their own goals.

THE REAL SHAOLIN not only transports us to a different country, but to a different state of mind, where everything is sacrificed for athletic mastery. For the Westerners Orion and Eric, adjusting to the foreign mindset is an added challenge. For Yuan and Zhu, the stakes are even higher, as they have no other prospects. Whether you have nominal or substantial interest in kung fu, it is guaranteed to expand from watching this film. But please refrain from practising air kicks as you leave the theatre.

  • Country United States
  • Language English
  • Rating NR
  • Year 2008
  • Running Time 89 minutes
  • Director Alexander Sebastien Lee

IFC Center does not generally provide advisories about subject matter or potentially triggering content in films, as sensitivities vary from person to person. In addition to the synopses, trailers and other links on our website, further information about content and age-appropriateness for specific films can be found on Common Sense Media, IMDb and as well as through general internet searches.