|Only the most ignorant of filmgoers is likely to see a movie named Bulletproof Monk and think that they
are about to walk into a cinematic masterpiece. Indeed, the spectrum of films from cinematic masterpiece
to utter manuer clearly has room in the middle for interesting but far from spectacular action movies. This
is not one of those. Instead, this is one of those putrid pieces of film flatulence that lands squarely on the
manuer end of the spectrum.
A martial arts monk with no name, played adequately by Chow Yun-Fat, holds a scroll which cannot fall
into the wrong hands -- in this case, the hands of an aging Nazi. The scroll holds the secret to eternal life
and eternal power. Every sixty years the guardian of the scroll must choose a new guardian for it. In this
case, the future guardian is the somewhat streetwise punk named Kar (Sean William-Scott). The Monk
with no name must train Kar to become the scroll's next guardian. During his brief training, Kar and the
nameless Monk are chased by Nazis, hang out with Tibetan Monks in a basement, fight the ever-present
only in Hollywood type multi-racial street gang, and of course...it wouldn't be a movie if there wasn't at
least one undeveloped subplot where Kar falls for a mob princess (Jamie King).
The film rambles from plot hole to plot hole, from a monastery in the high mountains of Tibet to a movie
theatre where Sean William-Scott's character learns martial arts from watching old Bruce Lee movies. It's
the type of film where the auidence is not supposed to ask questions like, "where did that drive-crash
dummy come from?" Or "how did a Nazi hiding out come up with a hydraulically powered truth telling
torture machine?" If it is remotely possible to get past these types of questions, it is still impossible to get
past the most problematic question of all. Kar has no reason to hold the scroll. He has no motivation to
become the next guardian, and the audience certainly does not get to see him grow from streetwise punk
into a person who could handle such a role. Growth and character development are elements that were
apparently left on the cutting room floor, that is along with a coherent story-line.
Chow Yun-Fat is an excellent actor. Films like the award winning Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon and
the artsy action movie, The Replacement Killers show him to be skilled in his craft. One can only hope
that he became involved in this movie for the money, because if it was for the script...there's probably
something wrong with him.
Sean William-Scott on the other hand should aspire to do movies that are better than Road Trip and
Evolution. An actor has a hard row to hoe when he honestly can say, "the best movie I've ever done was
Bulletproof Monk is a predictable mess, intermingling ideas from movies like Karate Kid, Raiders of the
Lost Ark, and The Matrix. Though this might sound like an engaging mix to some, it's really not. Perhaps
the most die hard computer geek teenage boy with a penchant for martial arts video games and
underdevloped fantasy might find some enjoyment in this film. As far as the rest of us are concerned,
Bulletproof Monk is a skunk.
One Half Star
1 Hour 44 Minutes
Not Exactly a Work of Art
Jason D. Martin