...now the monks are striking back with a series of big-budget fight films that will, in true kung fu style, pit their rivals' strength against them by recruiting top international actors and directors.
Abbot Shi Yongxin will serve as executive producer for the first of three features, entitled The Legend of the Monk Warriors of Shaolin Temple, based on a true story of 30 warrior monks who fought 16th-century pirates. Filming will start next year.
Having seen so many TV and film companies misrepresent its martial arts, the temple now has full control over the script and its portrayal of both Buddhism and the spiritual element that underlies kung fu. It will also cash in after the 2008 release as the film will be made by Shaolin Culture Broadcast Company, a subsidiary of the commercialised temple business.
...Monks will also play a role, particularly in the fight scenes.
Despite its 1500-year-old customs, Shaolin has been at the forefront of China's commercial revolution. In 1997, it was one of the first institutions in China to set up a website. Its monks tour the globe to demonstrate martial arts, and the temple has commissioned a cartoon series and video games.
These are pretty much the coolest monks in the world. Those monks who wrote down all kinds of stuff? Nerds! Monks who kick ass and make movies rule.