China Kung fu temple switches to reality TV

China's ancient Shaolin Temple is all set to begin a martial arts- based reality show.

india Updated: Nov 22, 2005 20:03 IST

China's ancient Shaolin Temple, made famous in the West by Grasshopper in the 1970s

Kung Fu

television series, is entering the age of reality TV with a show ofits own.

Chinese Kung Fu Star Search will invite viewers to vote for their favourite martial arts masters by text messages or through the Internet after each episode, due to hit living rooms across China in March, Xinhua news agency said on Friday.

"Regardless of nationality, skin colour or style, anyone who practises Chinese kung fu is welcome to take part," Xinhua said.

"But all contestants must be men and Shaolin monks are not allowed to participate."

The eight-month contest is aiming to knock the "Inner Mongolian Cow Sour Yoghurt Supergirl" show from top spot in China's ratings.

More than 400 million of China's 1.3 billion people tuned in to August's final round of the Supergirl competition, a Chinese version of the American Idol show.

In the Shaolin show, judges and viewers will rank contestants by virtue, kung fu and artistry until they settle on a final 108, the same number as the rebellious heroes from the classic Chinese novel, Outlaws of the Marsh.

The finalists would then get the chance to perform alongside "top international actors" in a big-budget movie and television series based on true stories from the 1,500-year-old temple in central Henan province, Xinhua said.

It is all part of abbot Shi Yongxin's efforts to promote the temple, which has inspired countless movies in China and Hong Kong but is perhaps best known in the West as the training grounds of David Carradine's main character, Kwai Chang Caine, in Kung Fu.

Shi has been trying to protect the Shaolin name by applying for international trademarks and to update the image and facilities of the once-secretive temple, now a popular draw for Chinese and foreign tourists.

First Published: Nov 19, 2005 13:33 IST