The Cup


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

The Cup

When Tibetan monks in the foothills of the Himalayas have a secret passion for soccer, it is not unlike discovering that the local priest plays in a rock band.

The Cup is more interesting than that, since it was written and directed by Khyentse Norbu, one of the most important incarnate lamas in the Buddhist tradition, and filmed at the Choking Monastery, a Tibetan refugee settlement, from where most of the actors were drawn. It is a simple story of a 14-year-old monk's obsession with the World Cup and his efforts to watch the final on TV. His personality and enthusiasm encourage others to break the rules and sneak down to the village shop to catch a glimpse of the semi-finals.

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Number Two monk is a traditionalist, a strict authoritarian. Anything as disruptive as football is frowned upon. Wisely, the old abbot recognises that even a Tibetan monastry is not immune to global hysteria. Ronaldo rules here, too, it seems.

The movie has charm in abundance and a lively performance from Jamyang Lodro, as the boy. Norbu's great achievement is having made it at all. With only a brief apprenticeship as Bertolucci's technical advisor on Little Buddha and no film school training, he makes Scorsese's Kundun look like fluff.

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
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A teenage monk's obsession with the world cup.

Director: Khyentse Norbu

Writer: Khyentse Norbu

Starring: Orgyen Tobgyal, Neten Chokling, Jamyang Lodro, Lama Chonjor, Godu Lama, Thinley Nudi, Kunsang, Kunsang Nyima, Pema Tshundup, Dzigar Kongtrul, Dhan Pat Singh

Year: 1999

Runtime: 93 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: Tibet-Bhutan-Australia


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If you like this, try:

The Miracle Of Bern
The Other Final