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Why Has Bodhi-Dharma Left for the East [Import]

Yi Pan-Yong , Sin Won-Sop , Yong-Kyun Bae    Unrated   DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
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Most helpful customer reviews
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars applaud the effort, but it left me wanting Feb. 26 2004
By Furiae
As a Buddhist from a devout Buddhist family, I was delighted to find a film about the Mahayana. I bought it and brought it to California with me on a recent trip when I visited my family, and even invited our teacher, a Vajrayana lama to watch with us.
I going to try to word my words respectfully. Though I appreciate what the author has done and I fully applaud all efforts in Buddhist filmmaking, I was left disappointed with 'Why Has Bodhi-Dharma Left for the East.'
The movie is indeed shot beautifully, with gorgeous images and very poetic scenes. However, imagery does not a movie make.
I can see the director's intentions, but some parts terribly misrepresent the path of cultivation. For instance, the old monk's body is in its current damaged state because he meditated up against a block of ice in attempt to conquer sleep. Not only is this not advisable and detrimental to health, but misrepresentative of the practice. Buddha starved with the ascetics only to come to the conclusion that to put his body through so much suffering is extremist, and instead, we should opt for moderation and the middle way. And why should we want to conquer sleep, anyway? What's the point? When Buddha walked the earth with us, even he had to bow to the physical limits of his nirmanakaya form and ate, slept, and cared for his body.
The Dharma should bring its followers peace of mind, fulfillment, contentment, and more and more happiness as we practice it more and more. However, this movie portrays monks undergoing mental torment and anguish throughout the movie. It seemed as if the movie piled more and more anguish on the monks as the movie progressed.
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By K. Gordon TOP 50 REVIEWER
While I still don't see it as the masterpiece that many do, I
did enjoy it much more on 2nd viewing.

I do find it slow. Maybe because of my long interest in
Buddhism, many of the ideas are familiar enough to me that in some
cases it felt like simply an illustrated lesson on things I've read.

However, a other times, it makes some central Buddhist ideas really
come to life in a very meaningful, moving way.

It earned a few votes on Sight and Sounds '10 Greatest Films Ever Made'
list. A few noting that the film improves on repeat viewings, once the
expectation of plot, etc has been removed.

It's really more a meditation than a 'film' in the usual sense.

The image (the photography is universally highly praised) looks less
than great on my television (grayed-out blacks, etc.), but the DVD got
good reviews, so I'm confused as to where the problem lies.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Moving Zen March 12 2010
If a Koan can be brought into a movie - this is it. In enchanting pictures with low enough speed to become aware of what is growing in the minds of the protagonists. I saw the film at least a dozen times and still find it supportive in resolving from mental attachments. You might expect fighting monks - and you get them. Fighting for liberation of mind! More than 1 hour of meditation and peace of mind!
Reinhard Liebe, Vienna, Austria, psychotherapist
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5.0 out of 5 stars 50/50 July 14 2004
By A Customer
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Watched this movie with my wife. She disliked it for its "stark realism" - I loved it for it's breathtaking imagery. True, it deals with life issues with a no nonsesnse stark reality way, and without the honeycoating of a hollywood movie - but for me the visual beauty of the film was wonderful. In addition, for those interested in things philosophical, the story line holds together well and the themes are explored with regard the title of the film (which is a zen ko-an).
Don't really know of another film like it - we bought it because we were looking for a 'slow' film like 'Scent of Green Papaya" which we love. This is nothing like 'scent' but it creates a 'spaciousness' which we both loved. If you want car chases, explosions, girls in bikinis, and sword fights, leave this one alone!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful April 22 2004
My family and I love this movie, which we have watched 3 or 4 times. It is amazing just to watch how lovely each shot of film is. The relationships among the 3 monks is very touching, and the spiritual development of the middle monk (in age) is moving.
If what you want is shoot-'em up action, or meaning laid out on a platter for you, this movie is not for you. But if you enjoy sitting back and letting the story flow over you (and the story is indeed a stretch for the western mind), then this is for you. I can easily see why it has been named one of the top 10 movies of all time.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Movie! Jan. 14 2004
Format:VHS Tape
You know I am disappointed the DVD reviews are being posted in the VHS section as well. Were they seperate, I think this movie would get just about 5 stars hands down, each time. Of course it is a movie for those interested in Zen Buddhism, that is somewhat a given. I am sorry to hear that the DVD conversion did not work out well, but I suppose I consider myself lucky enough to have purchased the VHS anyway. The imagery, for one, is so penetrating. I don't really know how to describe it. Impermamance is a recurring theme within this movie. The thing I appreciate about it, is it truly is like "viewing a meditation." The film is very relaxing, allowing the imagery to tell the story mostly. It is Korean subtitled, featuring a master, monk, and an orphaned boy. I wish I could tell you what this movie is about entirely, but I would not be able to do so in a completely accurate way. It's a movie that really does not collect dust on a shelf, because it is so provoking you will watch it over and over again. I know I do.
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars So sad for poor quality of DVD conversion of this great film
Simply great film. But DVD conversion was so poor that I can never imagine people who watch this DVD could get an idea about what the real film was like. Read more
Published on Nov. 19 2002 by "woodypark"
4.0 out of 5 stars Alas, poor DVD quality
I think this is probably a beautiful film. It radiates serenity. Unfortunately, I watched it on DVD, and was left to imagine what it looked like in the cinema. Read more
Published on May 24 2002 by Yon
If you're interested in Buddhism, especially the Zen schools, this movie will probably please you. Meditative and accessible, it's an almost purely visual film that nicely... Read more
Published on March 19 2002 by somebody nobody
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful ! (My Humble Opinion)
I found this movie by chance and am so glad that I did. I have studied Zen as well as several other different lineages of Buddhism for most of my life and found this movie to be a... Read more
Published on Feb. 5 2002 by Perry L Buckner
2.0 out of 5 stars "The Real Koan - Why are Viewers Duped?!"
An awful movie for two reasons: pretentious and empty as a film, and worse, as a supposed example (I can't even say "masterpiece" ) of "Zen", basically... Read more
Published on July 29 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars quietly, one of the great films of our time
Why has bodhi-dharma left for the east{the title is a zen koan] is a simply astonishing movie. The director Bae Yong-kyun spent 7 YEARS filming this movie{the overwrought phrase... Read more
Published on June 4 2001 by A. Hogan
5.0 out of 5 stars a gem, very hard to find
As a young Korean immigrant, it's impossible to describe in words my feelings when I found this movie in USA. Read more
Published on Nov. 16 2000 by kaela kim
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