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Bulletproof Monk

  • compiled by Jeffrey Overstreet Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2003 1 Jan
Bulletproof Monk
from Film Forum, 04/24/03

Bulletproof Monk is the latest in the streak of formulaic films inspired by the popularity of The Matrix and Hong Kong martial arts movies. It boasts an entertaining star turn from Chow Yun-Fat (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), whose spectacular stunts never cease to amaze. His costar Sean William Scott needs a good deal of special effects help to keep up. The film also relies on the cliché of wicked neo-Nazis, who seem to have replaced World War II Nazis as Hollywood's expendable villains of choice. The story sets up the title character against these disposable bad guys in a tug-of-war over an ancient scroll.

The previews predicted slick special effects but few new ideas, and sure enough, religious press critics join the mainstream press in shrugging over this forgettable picture.

David DiCerto (Catholic News Service) says, "While director Paul Hunter has certainly earned his black belt for the film's ultrastylized, gravity-defying acrobatics, the script at times is so hackneyed that better writing can been found in fortune cookies."

Loren Eaton (Focus on the Family) says, "There's nothing unique or especially creative about this Monk. The only way in which this comic book adaptation sets itself apart is through its overtly religious tone. (And that's not a compliment.)"

Shaun Daugherty (Preview) says, "The film espouses a Buddhist worldview. It has some entertainment to offer to martial-arts fans but is unacceptable due primarily to language and violence."

Movieguide's critic concludes that the movie is "an entertaining fantasy," but it should be avoided because it "teaches a lot of Eastern philosophy and Buddhist mysticism."

But Holly McClure (Crosswalk) confesses, "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."