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Shaolin Ulysses: Kungfu Monks in America

Produced and directed by Mei-Juin Chen & Martha Burr

Narrations by Beau Bridges; Misic by John Zorn

57 Minutes 

Channel 5
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If you get a kick out of kungfu, you don't want to miss this exhilarating film tracing the journey of five kungfu monks in search of the American dream.  Hailing from China's legendary Shaolin Temple, they are not only accomplished Zen masters but also famous kungfu stars with huge followings.  Now they've left it all behind to forge a new future in America - Shaolin Style - and bring their special brand of Martial Arts to the West.


Displaying their best kungfu moves for the camera, the monks share with us their stories, ambitions and visions for the future.  From building American temples, to performing in Las Vegas shows to producing Olympic sports champions, the monks present a vivid, contemporary portrait of the immigrant experience, as each goes in search of their own meeting place between Shaolin kungfu, Zen Buddhism, and Western culture.  And as they work to bridge the vast divide between East and West, our monks close in on the answer to the ultimate question: will Shaolin change America, or will America change Shaolin?


Los Angeles International Film Festival

Denver International Film Festival

Hawaii International Film Festival

New York Asian American Film Festival


History   Arts & Artists   Asian   Immigrants   Sports

Critical Response

"…loaded with Cool kungfu moves…" - Sports Illustrated 

 -David Bordwell, Professor of Film Studies, University of Wisconsin 

"A warm portrait of a rich tradition, SHAOLIN ULYSSES should win new friends for both Kung-fu and Chinese culture." 

-Roger Garcia, Founder & director, Hong Kong International Film Festival

"A must-see for students of Asian culture and its diaspora. Shaolin Ulysses is a fascinating account, not only of martial arts but also of the immigrant experience of a most unusual group: Shaolin monks who have settled in

America. A great cross-cultural adventure!" 

-Andrew Ross, Professor of American Studies, New York University 

Shaolin Ulysses is a truly maverick take on the genre of immigrant work tales in the U.S. No matter what the circumstance, we see how the Shaolin mythology adapts and weaves itself into the modern folkways of American culture.” 

Co-author, Film Art:  An Introduction 

Author, No Respect:  Intellectuals and Popular Culture

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