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"Bulletproof Monk" - Movie Review

  • Holly McClure Movie Reviewer
  • 2003 4 Apr
  • COMMENTS
"Bulletproof Monk" - Movie Review

Genre: Action

Rating: PG-13 (for violence, language and some sexual content)

Release Date: April 16, 2003

Actors: Chow Yun-Fat, Seann William Scott, Jaime King, Mako, Marcus Jean Pirae, Karel Roden, Victoria Smurfit

Director: Paul Hunter

Special Notes: This movie was originally published as a three-part comic series in the late '90s.

Plot: In 1943 a Tibetan Monk (Yun-Fat) is given a powerful scroll from his martial arts master that could cause horrible chaos should it fall into the wrong hands, like those of a Nazi named Struker (Roden) and later on, his granddaughter, Nina (Smurfit). As long as the Monk protects the scroll for 60 years, he will remain youthful and immune to death until it comes time to hand the scroll to the next guardian who is prophesied to protect it. Scroll to 2003 and the Monk finds himself in New York City where he meets his successor, a smart mouthed pickpocket orphan named Kar (William Scott). He's charming, street-tough and has mastered the art of street fighting from watching old martial arts movies in the theater where he works and lives. The Monk believes Kar is the next Master meant to protect the scroll, so the unlikely duo become partners and save the scroll from the maniac Struker and his power-hungry granddaughter who's been chasing the Monk for 60 years.

Good: I enjoy a martial arts movie as long as it has a compelling story, interesting actors, fantastic Matrix-style special effects and uniquely choreographed martial arts fights … which is why I enjoyed this movie. Don't get me wrong, this isn't the greatest action movie ever to be made (Struker's bad Nazi hairdo will affirm that), but one of the best things about it is the unlikely duo of Yun-Fat mentoring a directionless William Scott. The two very different generations have great chemistry as they pass witty barbs between them and work as a team to chop, kick and flip their way to protecting the scroll. The special effects are truly amazing (they both look like they're performing a mid-air ballet), the stunts are incredible (Yun-Fat flips around a helicopter) and the choreographed fights are stunning to behold. The plot is unusual in that it has two femmes fatales to duel with the two heroes, adding another level of good verses evil to the story. I've been a Yun-Fat fan for a long time now, but I'm adding Scott to my list of leading men who not only makes a great comedy sidekick ("Evolution") but a worthy romantic lead as well.

Bad: This action adventure is appropriately rated because of the bad language, a couple of religious profanities, intense fight scenes and a brief torture scene with nothing graphic or bloody. Assuming you buy the premise that the scroll has magical powers that keep the Monk young for 60 years, and assuming you buy the fact that a Nazi searches for the scroll for 60 years because he wants the power to control the world, then you'll buy when the Nazi finds the Monk and his age reverts to his former self. What I found hilarious was that his idiotic three stooges' haircut came back as well ? from a bald head. A couple of scenes have sexual dialogue and one scene shows a rude female interrogator making a comment about a tattooed message on the Monk; the only sexual situation is a brief make-out scene.

Bottom Line: I can't help it ? I like this movie for the sheer chemistry between the two leads. The partnering of Yun-Fat and William Scott, the mentor and pupil, is what makes this story work and the sassy, witty barbs and dialogue are what keep it funny and interesting. This is a fun, action-adventure, popcorn movie that will appeal to the hero in all of us. Aside from the martial arts action, there's a small element of Eastern philosophy thrown in about the meaning of life, man's quest to know truth and little parables that divulge a prophecy concerning Kar (after all the guy IS a Monk), but nothing that's too preachy or insulting. Parents, because of the language, martial arts violence and mature situations, this movie is best for mature teens to adults.