The Cup

The tragedy of modern Tibet haunts this otherwise lighthearted tale of life inside a Buddhist monastery-in-exile. Like many Tibetan youths whose families fear for their children's safety in Chinese-occupied Tibet, Palden (Kunzang Nyima) and his young nephew Nyima (Pema Tshundup) are smuggled to a Tibetan Buddhist monastery into Northern India. They're ordained...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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The tragedy of modern Tibet haunts this otherwise lighthearted tale of life inside a Buddhist monastery-in-exile. Like many Tibetan youths whose families fear for their children's safety in Chinese-occupied Tibet, Palden (Kunzang Nyima) and his young nephew

Nyima (Pema Tshundup) are smuggled to a Tibetan Buddhist monastery into Northern India. They're ordained and indoctrinated into the lives of Buddhist monks under the stern and watchful eye of Geko (Orgyen Tobgyal), the monastery's disciplinarian. The days are filled with ritual and prayer, but

life in the monastery isn't all austerity and self-sacrifice. Palden is particularly surprised by his roommate Orgyen (Jamyang Lodro), an adolescent monk who undoubtedly loves the Buddha, and cares about only one thing in the material world: World Cup soccer. This charming film is ostensibly about

Orgyen's efforts to get a satellite dish and TV set into the monastery in time for the World Cup finals, but it's also about life in exile, and a harsh life it is. Though set in Northern India, first-time director Khyentse Norbu — himself an important Buddhist lama who was raised in a

monastery — shot the film at the Chokling Monastery, part of a remote Tibetan refugee settlement in the small Himalayan country of Bhutan. Norbu can't resist a few pointed comments regarding the ongoing occupation of Tibet, and gently takes the U.S. to task for its equivocal stance toward

China. But politics aside, the film's a great opportunity to catch a demystified glimpse of the endlessly fascinating rituals of Tibetan Buddhism. Adding to its realism is Norbu's decision to cast the monastery's actual monks in major roles, and his strategy yields some delightful results,

particularly Young Lodro's performance as Orgyen. A pint-sized tough-talker with a home-made soccer jersey under his red and orange robes, he's part Buddhist monk, part Dead End Kid, and a total charmer.

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  • Released: 1999
  • Rating: G
  • Review: The tragedy of modern Tibet haunts this otherwise lighthearted tale of life inside a Buddhist monastery-in-exile. Like many Tibetan youths whose families fear for their children's safety in Chinese-occupied Tibet, Palden (Kunzang Nyima) and his young nephe… (more)

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