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Shaolin Ulysses: Kungfu Monks in America
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
This excellently crafted documentary shows the ways in which five Shaolin monks have bridged the divide between East and West -- influencing Americans with their martial arts in ways that are surprising, and often heart warming. From Brooklyn, to Texas, to California, these diverse monks bring their individual immigrant stories in the pursuit of the American Dream. Excellent production quality, editing and story telling by the film makers.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on January 9, 2006
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
I maybe a bit biased due to the fact that Li Peng Zhang is my Sifu, but this is a great documentary. The information provided is accurate and presented in a manner that is captivating. If you are studying or want to study authentic Shaolin Kung Fu, this is one of the top three documentaries to watch. (The other two ar myths and Logic of shaolin Kung Fu and Secrets of the warriors power)
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
The five monks seemed excited to establish Zen Buddhism temples in America and teach the Shaolin art. Each Monk demonstrates his special discipline and skills. The monks seemed excited for cultural exchange. Many of them toured various cities of America. One master maintains a connection with the Shaolin Temple in China and each year sends students to China.

The Shaolin movements are very evasive, attacking from various angles and retreating backwards. The Shaolin movements including jumping kicks, split kicks (round and reversed), high crescent kicks landing and the ability to sideways on the ground, low horse stances, large and small circular closed fist and open hand strikes, movements left and right, and low twisting stances into punches advancing forward and backward. The movements are complex and often predict which way they will move. To one fight a Shaolin he will seem to be moving one ways then suddenly change and move another way, a strike and move pattern. By adding weapons to the techniques the Shaolin seems to fly around the floor with amazing acrobatic flips, spins, and twists.

Included in the film is a Tai Chi sword demonstration. This was wonder to see. I like the iron shirt demonstration which made the master seemingly imprevious to an hard strikes from a large wood oar and a crushing blow as four men used a railroad tie to ram into the body of the master. The two man tiger forms demonstrated Chinese chess piece training. Who could believe the impossible feat of break a steel bar over a masters head. The monkey form demonstration very interesting consider this form is rarely made public. The amazon leopard form allowed the artist too move smoothly from leaps into hand techniques and stances. One of the more agile forms. The kung fu weapons demonstrations reminded me of a marching band but with more power and energy. The group performed the weapon techniques in unison.

The masters seemed to radiate power in their hands and fist. The kicks end with a sharp snap. The strikes literally vibrate with power.

The documentary is a nice balance between interviews and demonstrations. Very enticing. In China the government uses Martial arts as a reason for community gatherings, religious worship, and culture celebration. Many of the masters studied exclusively the art. One master was able to heal his son after suffering a serious injury. One master expressed the desire for his son to study western education and the Martial arts. All of the Masters were impressive with the big style of Western culture. However, each Master sought to integrate the quietness and peacefulness of the Shaolin arts. I'm impressed with the intelligence of the system and the artist.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 26, 2008
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
This DVD shows the possibility of harnessing the tremendous potential that lies in each one of us. With the dedicated practice of these methods under a master such as these venerable monks from Shaolin, one can tap into the source of much energy. One need not be a Kung Fu fighter to derive the benefits that the practice of such an art brings. The mere practice of it brings one's breath under control and thereby gives one greater control of one's thoughts.

As the documentary traces the source of the teachings of Shaolin to Bodhidharma, the great Buddhist Indian sage from the 5th century AD, it is only natural that the foundations of Kung Fu, Qi Gong, Tai Chi etc are common to the practice of yoga. If one practices any of these arts with devotion for several hours a day, the energy that builds up in the body is beyond description! One has to develop it in order to realize what is possible.

As one of the monks in the DVD stated that at Shaolin they would practice for 8 hours a day, which reveals their dedication. It is no wonder the Shaolin monks are famous around the world! If one practices with such dedication one will always have a strong body and a peaceful mind. The kind of super human feats they perform on the DVD are only possible with a dedicated practice and mastery of the breath.

If one truly wants peace, happiness and health, the way to these is in these Eastern practices! I have followed the Western way for 50 years of my life, only to have found health, peace and happiness after taking up yoga! These practices have a powerful effect on ALL the facets of the pratitioner's life! One has to earnestly practice these arts and experience the benefits to realize the truth of my claim.

Glory be to these monks for revealing the possibilities that can be realized through practice. I would recommend this DVD to everyone, specially to those who have growing children. Mastery of such an art will change the course of the lives of their children for the better. Practice of these arts will keep one disease free through life. One need never visit a physician!

This truly has been the greatest DVD I have ever watched. I have already had 5 copies sent to friends and family and will be buying more over the coming weeks and months.
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on December 7, 2010
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
This documentary film was an official selection of the Los Angeles International Film Festival and the Denver International Film Festival. It tells the story of five Shaolin Temple monks who recently migrated to the United States to spread Buddhism and share their unique knowledge of kung fu. The film follows their adjustments to their new homes in New York, Houston and Las Vegas. Their martial arts skills are outstanding but the filmmakers decided to place the emphasis on their biographical details and cultural transitions.

At times I became frustrated with camera closeups. The viewer cannot see some of the footwork in the difficult forms. Other times, the film speed was not fast enough to capture their quick movements (a typical problem with filming martial artists). Some of the best martial arts moments were the Leopard Fist style and sword work sequences.

What is amazing to me are the 40 minutes of bonus kung fu footage. I purchased this DVD for the extras, especially two minutes of "Little Luo Han Fist" performed by the children on the grounds of Shaolin Temple:

Shaolin Kungfu
Little Luo Han Fist (2:00)
Youth Kungfu (7:02)
Iron Shirt, Golden Bell
Broadsword
Whip Chain
Ditang
Luo Han Fist
Staff
Eagle Fist
Monk Xing Hao (1:48) (sword demonstration)
Huen Yuen
Monkey and Tiger
Julie Zhang
Shaolin Festival

The film includes an interactive menu and a brief history of the Shaolin Temple.
Many scenes have spoken Chinese with English subtitles. No other language options are available.
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on March 4, 2006
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
This is one of the most amazing documentaries that I have ever seen, and I am a documentary addict. I first saw this documentary on the PBS "Independent Lens" series, which is one of the finest shows on TV by the way. The physical and mental training involved in becoming a Shaolin monk is truly astounding. These are real Shaolin monks, not the cartoonish characters you see in those cheesy kungfu movies. These guys are beyond Bruce Lee even. You won't regret buying this DVD.
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on July 16, 2014
Format: DVD
This is one of the best Martial Arts documentaries I have seen on Shaolin Fung Fu. Five different Shaolin masters left china to come to America and show their Kung Fu skills and teach their arts which are very impressive. If you enjoy martial arts then you should enjoy “Kung Fu Monks in America”.
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on March 21, 2011
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
This film provides a interesting peek into the lives of 5 modern-day shaolin monks. The musical score by John Zorn is amazing.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 19, 2012
Format: Amazon Instant Video
The american doctor is a moron. Once he started speaking it ruined the documentary. It makes it seem like the practice of Kungfu in the U.S. is about money and showing off. To me that isn't what Kungfu is about.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 18, 2008
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
some weird scenes. don't know how to rate this film. it's a well made docu but seems to be chinese pr.
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