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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 (17 customer reviews)
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Most helpful customer reviews
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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2.0 out of 5 stars "The Real Koan - Why are Viewers Duped?!" July 29 2001
By A Customer
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 fraudulent. Slow tracking nature shots and third grade level spouting of Buddhist aphorisms (and literal use of the ox parable - ugh!) do not constitute "Zen." Real zen practice is not divorced from the nitty gritty reality of modern life ; thinking that this movie will somehow get you on the path to prajna paramita (the "other shore", i.e., enlightenment) is like saying that watching "Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer" or "The Grinch" will let you understand the meaning of Christianity's origin.
It's obvious now why Mr. Bae has never made another film: and it's unfortunate that so many people's wish to "see" Zen philosophy /spirituality has caused them to suspend their critical discernments and project depth into this amatuerish production. Decent, if unchallenging, cinematography though (hence the two stars).
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5.0 out of 5 stars a gem, very hard to find Nov. 16 2000
As a young Korean immigrant, it's impossible to describe in words my feelings when I found this movie in USA. Even though so many wonderful films are made in Korea, they seldom get noticed world-wide. This is one of the "wonderful films" that are hard to find. I've watched this movie several times now, but frankly, there still are a lot of things that I don't understand. The reason I keep watching, though, whenever I have time, is because of pure aesthetics in words and images. In my opinion, you don't have to understand anything, nor should you be buddhist or have knowlege in buddhism to like this movie. Every words and images have beauty all by themselves and they make you feel something, and think something. Well, if not, at least they make you feel peaceful. If you are a person like me, who's tired of car honking, crowded train, and this jungle of concrete buildings, I strongly suggest you grab this movie, and have a moment of serenity. The English subtitle looks very good, although there are some words that are just not translatable. But that's just my opinion, since I'm more accustomed to Korean than English. My last words -- if you decide to buy this movie, enjoy the scenery. Korean mountains are SO BEAUTIFUL!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Review by a novice Dec 27 1999
By S. Jung
When I was in Korea about ten years ago, I heard about this movie, but I have not seen this move until DVD is released recently.
This movie is not for everyone, because it is hard to understand Zen and other underlying stories (also the cinematography). I am not a Buddhist, but I think I know better than usual Western viewers. Keep in mind that my review is of novice.
At first scene, you hear very loud warning sounds from traffic signals and sounds of a train passing by. The sounds from wooden bells carried by Buddhists have been used to open the closed minds of common people (fools) by the strong wave energy penetrating into their inner minds. You later hear sounds of the wooden bell by the monk in the market. Also, you can hear various sounds from metallic bells and others in the movie.
The Zen koan is also used to open the closed mind by sudden striking force. You can not easily escape from old habits, stereotypes and various beliefs which you have accumulated and learned after your birth. To cut those connections which are usually obstacles to the Way to enlightenment, you need some sudden and strong force. A sound or koan can be used for this purpose.
'Karma' is a basic principle to make the story in the movie. The boy killed a bird. He later suffered in water. The cow symbolizes a kind of lucky guider when you are struggling to escape from darkness. Due to any kind of guider, you can have a chance to move toward the enlightenment or Nirvana, which is given because you have accomplished somethings or have helped other lives during the past life.
The woman wearing black Korean cloth is the boy's mother. She appeared in the dream of the boy when he struggled to escape from a crisis.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A work of art, though not for everyone May 26 2000
There are not nearly enough Korean films available in the West, and this is the kind of movie which reminds me that we're missing out. A Buddhist monk and his apprentice live in a temple up in the mountains, and contemplate life and all of its meanings. This is the basic premise for a film which lasts for 2 hours. And it took 10 years to make. But this is no criticism. Plenty of Zen Buddhist philosophy abounds despite sparse dialogue. While the film has a very challenging duration to endure, people who do stick with it will learn something of this popular religion (which I for one find interesting), and will also be treated to a lot of simply beautiful, captivating and breath-taking Korean natural scenery. If you can't watch a film without action, or a dialogue-driven drama, then don't torture yourself. This is not for you. Everyone else however will find a damn good film with depth-aplenty. Highly recommended.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Challenging, slow, but thought provoking and ultimately moving
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. Read more
Published on Aug. 24 2011 by K. Gordon
5.0 out of 5 stars Moving Zen
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. Read more
Published on March 12 2010 by Reinhard Liebe
5.0 out of 5 stars 50/50
Watched this movie with my wife. She disliked it for its "stark realism" - I loved it for it's breathtaking imagery. Read more
Published on July 14 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful
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. Read more
Published on April 22 2004 by Amazon Customer
2.0 out of 5 stars applaud the effort, but it left me wanting
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... Read more
Published on Feb. 26 2004 by Furiae
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. 18 2002 by "woodypark"
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 18 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. 4 2002 by Perry L Buckner
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
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