Mary Jane Reimer has made it her mission in life to defend her religion and the innocent from those who sacrilegiously pretend to be Buddhist monks. These fake monks wrongly solicit money, sell prayer beads or talismans, or offer blessings for profit on the street. Real monks don’t do any of this.
While Reimer typically carries out her crusade in Hong Kong, one man in monk’s robes was unlucky enough to recently run into her on the streets of London. Video of their confrontation has been captioned in English by the South China Morning Post. Watching it, you almost feel sorry for the guy. Almost:
At one point, Reimer challenges the imposter, identified as Mingkuan, to recite the Great Compassion Mantra, the second-most recited mantra in Buddhism. “Don’t you even know about the Great Compassion Mantra?” she asks. Mingkuan, seemingly dumbfounded, replies, “The Great Compassion Mantra means great compassion,” and continues to avoid the challenge.
Eventually, Reimer forces Mingkuan to reveal his true origins and compels him to take off his robes before she lets him go. Despite her threats, she doesn’t actually have these fake monks arrested, rather she tries to get them to change their ways and to respect her religion—doing so in a tone that will make the frauds believe that if they are caught again they will face not only the cops, but also the full force of her fury.
Reimer has many other videos on her Facebook page of her confrontations with fake monks. In one encounter, she draws a crowd in Hong Kong and reveals that a Mandarin-speaking monk who says he’s from Henan’s famous Shaolin Temple and has an identification booklet to prove it, is really nothing more than a fraud, pointing out that his certificate lists him as a “Wujie Jushi” (五戒居士), meaning a Buddhist believer who adheres to the Five Precepts, not a full-fledged monk.
“Chinese Buddhists don’t solicit donations in this way,” she charges. To which the man replied, “This is how we do it on the mainland.”
She’s even gone in disguise and undercoveras an English-speaking tourist to catch one fake monk selling prayer beads in Hong Kong’s party district of Lan Kwai Fong. Seriously, this is one woman who you do not want to mess with.
But, does this scam-busting crusader seem faintly familiar to you? Well, you may actually recognize Reimer for her lead role in the 1983 kung-fu fantasy love story, Little Dragon Maiden, starring opposite none other than a young Leslie Cheung:
Or perhaps you know her from her famous marriage to beloved kung-fu master and director Lau Kar-Leung, who directed classicwushu flicks like Drunken Master II and The 36th Chamber of Shaolin.
Reimer has been on the screen and in the news for years now and in this latest chapter of her life, she’s been taking on a crime that she sees as a personal blow to her spirituality. So how big of an issue are fake monks anyways? Back in 2015, Reimer filed a lawsuit against the Ting Wai Monasteryin Hong Kong for roughly $64,520 of donations that had mysteriously gone missing. In her personal investigation of the monastery, she discovered evidence that some of the monks and an abbess were using the money for personal indulgences.
As you might expect, Reimer’s work outing frauds and cheats has also worked to turn herself into a target. Back in January of this year, she said that 11 of her 15 cats had been poisoned after she had received threatening calls and after menacing notes had been sent to her aides.
Despite these threats to her safety, Reimer remains committed to her mission, writing that hers is a “battle between good and evil.” So, if you see a monk offering blessings for a price on the street, remember to steer clear or pull a page from Reimer’s book and ask them to recite the Great Compassion Mantra.