Last night I watched the movie fearless, starring Jet li. It is an account of the modern martial arts father in China and takes place circa early 20th century. One might be sad to know that this is Li's last martial arts film. I too was shocked and displeased, for I think he is better than Bruce Lee. I know one person who would hurt me for that statement but, ces la vie.
A week ago i just finished studying the eastern religions, Taoism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism (more of a morality) and Shintoism. Early on in the movie Li's father tells him to write Confucius' sayings ten times. This movie brings in all the various elements of Buddhism (as Li is a Buddhist - he studied under the Dali Lama. In on scene a man slits his throat instead of allowing Li to kill him - honor and ancestor veneration coming into play there.
If you would watch the commentary Li explains the purpose of martial arts, or wushu in Chinese. He notes that the aim is not to hurt the other person, or to be victorious over others, instead it is of self. Buddhism is often known as the warriors religion, utilizing swords. It is to conquer self, for when you fight you truly know who you are. You see your worst come onto the stage and only there do you have the opportunity to actualize your potential of goodness.
The same was said for yoga. I am not against using yoga or martial arts as a sport or exercise, but I would condemn the spiritual component of it. Yoga is Hindi for "to yoke." Abstractly speaking it is to bind oneself with the Brahman, impersonal god fluff that is transcendent. When you practice yoga, a distinct form of Buddhist meditation, Buddhists claim that whatever comes to your thoughts are what matters to you most and what you should pursue. In the end hope lies within yourself, as mankind have great potential for good.
More thoughts on Buddhism.. see here.
Ancestor Veneration is key in Confucian thought - think of Disney's Mulan, or another Jet Li movie Hero. Li visited his parents grave after losing everything, and all the followed was in respect to them. For Confucius taught that there are 5 key relationships in all of life, chiefly being filial ties.
Shintoism is all about the honor and glory of a nation. What is best for China or Japan. It is very easily syncretistic with Confucian thought - how can I properly live, to be the best I can be, for the nation.
In the end this is a great movie to show one how all the eastern religions, minus Hinduism, match up in a similar vein (there are differences in the intensity and focus, but thats another story).