The 7 Best Movies About Monks

Monday, February 25 by Lee Keeler

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These righteous dudes have skills that are as instrumental as they are deadly! Only trolls with purest souls can dig these seven Best Movies About Monks!


“The 36th Chamber of Shaolin” (1978)

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For the Wu-Tang Clan cred alone, “Chamber” holds the honor of being one of the coolest kung-fu movies in the history of the genre. RZA grew up watching the film, infusing the philosophies of brotherhood and kicking ass into his hip-hop work. The plot follows a young Shaolin monk who must train within the 35 chambers, each presenting a unique challenge, until he becomes the Master Killer who presents his own technique to the legendary regimen. These guys make Scientology look like a cakewalk.

Gangs of New York” (2002)

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Brendan Gleeson plays “Monk” McGinn, an Irish mercenary who acts as kind of a godfather to Leo DiCaprio‘s protagonist Amsterdam Vallon. McGinn is an ally of the street gang The Dead Rabbits, normally settling disputes with knives and weird accents. In an effort to win power on the straight and narrow, McGinn runs for and wins the office of Sheriff, only to have his efforts butchered by an old rival.

“Free Tibet: Tibetan Freedom Concert 1996″ (2007)

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A low-run DVD released by Columbia Japan, “Free Tibet” documents performances from titans of the 90’s alt scene: Björk, Rage Against the Machine, Cibo Matto, Sonic Youth and many more. Nearly a million dollars was raised by the effort, which stands as a labor of love that was organized by The Beastie Boys, particularly the late, great Adam Yauch. Proceeds benefited the Milarepa Foundation, dedicated to the legal struggles of the monks in Tibet.

Mortal Kombat“(1995)

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This was one of those weird Escher-esque franchises where the game imitated movies and the movies imitated the game. The idea of a “source” is a bit confounding. Created for his accessible nature, Liu Kang’s origin sees him lumped in with the by-then-overused Shaolin tradition. An odd tidbit about Kang’s design was that the creators originally intended for him to wear traditional garb with a shaved head-heresy for a mullet, as delightfully deadly as his.

“Thelonious Monk: Straight No Chaser” (1988)

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This is an incredible snapshot of the bebop forefather in his element: from the stairwells of clubs in the East Village to getting raunchy in some sterile, white-walled studio. Charlotte Zwerin’s pacing predates the song-story-song format that is fairly commonplace by today’s documentary standards, boasting rich footage of Monk’s splay-fingered wallop on some poor grand pianos. While Zwerin leans heavily on the offbeat quirks, a slant corrected by Robin D.G. Kelley’s excellent biography on the pianist, this is a must for even cursory fans.

“Satan’s Alley” (2008)

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Sure, yeah, okay…this isn’t technically a real feature. But the faux Oscar-bait from “Tropic Thunder” has a full-on trailer and its own website with incredible features, which is more than you can say for most of the real movies on this list! What’s more, there is also a full website for Kirk Lazarus, the faux star of the faux trailer in the faux movie “Tropic Thunder”.

 

“The Monk” (2011)

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In the French thriller “Le Moine”, Vincent Cassel is a Spanish monk named Ambrosio who is tortured by his faith. The pious orphan is tempted by The Devil until he gets a spiritual kick in the family jewels from the dark lord. Honestly, the trailer looks like it was made by the same guys who made “Satan’s Alley,” which is amazing if you watch one after the other.