Bulletproof Monk

Bulletproof Monk


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Anything involving the redoubtable Chow Yun-Fat deserves respect. He is, after all, the most famous film star in the East, winner of three Hong Kong Oscars, as well as being inscrutably wise in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. What on earth is he doing here?

Bulletproof Junk is a cheap imitation. If the scriptwriters had a sense of humour, it might have passed as parody. But they don't and it isn't.

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The mixture of magic realism - neither magic, nor real - and kung-fu fighting, using wires in The Matrix/Crouching Tiger tradition, cannot disguise an inept plot, concerning a Buddhist scroll from a Tibetan monastery, an insane Nazi and a petty thief (American Pie's very own Seann William Scott).

The protector of the scroll receives special powers, as a bonus for his voluntary work. He does not age and appears impervious to weapons of individual destruction. That person is The Monk With No Name (Yun-Fat), who survived a massacre at the monastery in 1943, despite being shot and falling off a precipice, when Germans climbed a mini Everest to attack it, and turns up 60 years later in the US of A, with scroll in shoulder bag and no particular place to go.

He joins forces with Kar (Scott), a freelance pickpocket, to outwit the German officer, responsible for the Tibetan atrocity, who knows that he who reads the scroll, rules the world. Herr Struker (Karel Roden) is a wheelchaired old loony by now, but his blonde athletic granddaughter Nina (Victoria Smurfit) has all her marbles and a generous helping of sex appeal. Talking of which, Kar's new squeeze is Bad Girl (Jaime King), who is actually a good girl with martial arts skills.

The story is so completely off this planet that only airheads and comic book fanatics will appreciate its subtle qualities. Yun-Fat is a fine actor, slumming it for the sake of his friend, co-producer John Woo. He should have sent flowers and stayed at home. As for Scott, he's too lightweight to make much impact as an action hero. He's still riding on that pastry grin, which takes a face so far, but no further.

Reviewed on: 17 Apr 2003
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A monk with no name protects a scroll with special powers.
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Director: Paul Hunter

Writer: Ethan Reiff, Cyrus Voris

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

Year: 2003

Runtime: 105 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: US


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