A scene from 'The Cup'
Courtesy Photo
***1/2 stars In Bhutanese with English subtitles
94 minutes | Unrated
Opened: Friday, February 11, 2000 (SF)
Written & directed by Khyentse Norbu

Starring Orgyen Tobgyal, Neten Chokling, Jamyang Lodro, Lama Chonjor & Godu Lama

Interview with writer-director Khyentse Norbu


Superbly simple movie that all ages and all dispositions can understand and enjoy. Great rental for almost any circumstance.

   VIDEO RELEASE: 09/26/2000


 LINKS for this film
Official site
at Internet Movie Database
Monk-cum-movie director scores big with simple, joyful 'Cup,' about a monastery gripped by soccer fever

By Rob Blackwelder

A movie of pure enjoyment, peppered with ever-so-slight political undertones, "The Cup" was written and directed by a Buddhist lama and tells the story of a monastery school in the grips of World Cup fever.

Based on real events, Bhutanese monk Khyentse Norbu used members of his own monastery as actors in portraying this lighter side of monastic life, in which one soccer-obsessed boy (Jamyang Lodro) turns watching the World Cup finale into a cause célebre among his cloister's monks-in-training.

A modest and surprisingly skilled effort, Norbu (who was bitten by the filmmaking bug while serving as a consultant on Bernardo Bertolucci's "Little Buddha") has a remarkable eye for cinematic beauty and crafty detail, and he brings a graceful sense of humanity and humor to the kind of characters usually portrayed on film as serious and serene.

With a disarming, "who me?" smile and enthusiasm to spare, Lodro plays Orgyen, a mischievous, 14-year-old monk-in-training who keeps a "shrine" to his favorite soccer players and frequently sneaks out at night to catch matches on TV in a nearby village. He reports the results to his fellow students, eventually causing a commotion that interferes with day-to-day prayers and lessons as the finals approach.

Two young recruits who have just escaped over the Tibetan border serve as the audience's surrogates in discovering the monastic lifestyle. They also quickly become Orgyen's allies in a campaign to persuade the elders that they should rent a TV and satellite dish so all the monks can watch the last game together.

Orgyen Tobgyal, another lama in real life, is distressed but equally amused as the school's disciplinarian, who approaches the Abbot (Lama Chonjor, real-life head of the Monastery where the film was shot) with the boys' proposal and finds himself having to explain the game to the old man -- who considers it curious and comical that nations would fight over a ball as a form of entertainment.

An interesting contrast to the Dalai Lama dramas "Kundun" and "Seven Years In Tibet," "The Cup" doesn't wear its politics on its sleeve and it doesn't aspire to be a haughty art film by any means. It's just an unaffected transporting delight that inspires ear-to-ear grins with its humble spirit.

In Association with
or Search for

powered by FreeFind
SPLICEDwire home
Online Film Critics Society
All Rights Reserved
Return to top
Current Reviews
SPLICEDwire Home