Bulletproof Monk

Review Date:
Director: Paul Hunter
Writer: Ethan Reiff, Cyrus Voris
Producers: Terrence Chang, John Woo
Seann William Scott
Chow Yun-Fat
Jamie King
A monk with no name is asked to protect a sacred scroll for the next 60 years and to find another worthy replacement of the task once he’s kept it away from the evildoers for that period of time. In the big city, the monk runs into a cool pickpocket who also happens to kick ass as well as another “street girl” who also happens…to kick ass. Lots of kicking of ass ensues.
A disposable, video-game-generation flick with very little in actual plot fluidity or character development, but plenty of recyclable action sequences featuring faceless Nazis finding the “good guys” no matter where they go, cockamamie double-talk (“…it’s not who I am, it’s who you are”), choppy editing and a forgettable soundtrack to boot. Thankfully for audiences, the three leads keep you from focusing too much on the horror of the film’s screenplay by establishing a nice connection, especially Yun-Fat and Scott. In fact, if Scott chooses his next few scripts correctly, he may be able to parlay his big screen charisma into more “adult” cinematic vehicles. Yun-Fat, on the other hand, doesn’t do much different in this film, but does manage to bring along some of his own usual charm, and even impressed me with the delivery of a few of his comedic lines. Jamie King’s character is just plain ridiculous (she’s rich but lives down in the sewer with street folk because…well, you’ll see…ridiculous), but thankfully she too conveyed a certain amount of screen persona, which helped me get by the film’s more uninteresting sequences (of which there are plenty), like when the characters explain the plot to the audience for the umpteenth time (yeah, I got it already…the scroll is sacred, anyone who gets it, blah-blah-blah…). But nobody wants to knock a film simply because of its comic-book nature when it’s actually based on a comic book, so I won’t bust too many balls over plot holes or over-the-top characters, but did they really have to feature a bad guy named “Mr. Funktastic”, did the Nazis really have to cause all kinds of havoc around the city without one officer of the law noticing and did the bad guys really have to use the World Human Rights Organization as a “cover” for their bad deeds? Lame-o.

But then I realized that this film wasn’t really made for me…it was made for younger kids. The quick jump-cuts, the goofy bad guys, the basic plotline, the PG-13 dialogue and gags…nothing too serious or believable here (was there any blood on anyone who got killed?). Add that to some pretty bad CGI effects when the characters flew up into the air (note to filmmakers: wire-fu and CGI bullets flying past faces have been “out” since early 2001), some badly configured fight sequences, most of which were inexplicably shot from close-up as opposed to wide shots showing all of the action and plenty of Mr. Miyagi-esque “spiritual” enlightened lines from Yun-Fat to the point of wanting to wire-fu out of my own seat and kick his 40-foot ass on the big screen myself, and you get exactly what the doctor ordered…if the doctor was the same doctor who loved ECKS VS SEVER! The editing is also one of the worst jobs that I’ve seen in any movie this year, with way too many quick cuts, scenes feeling like they were cut for time, and others spliced together. Not a pretty sight. But, just like I do with most films, I did find some things to enjoy in this cake-walk including the fun presence of Scott, who dropped a few funny one-liners into the mix, owned the screen whenever he was on it and probably should have been given more leeway to ad-lib some of his own dialogue (the monk “hand test” scene was pretty funny). Some of the fight scenes were also enjoyable in that “at least I’m not home watching TV” type of way, while the final one was probably the “best” of the bunch. King is also damn cute and the film also features a great “Woo” sequence with Yun-Fat in slow-mo brandishing and firing two guns at the same time. Sweet.

Other than that, there isn’t much that I even remember about this movie now, only an hour after having seen it. Not sure what that tells you, but it tells me that either 1) my brain has finally turned to mush and I gotta seek some serious medical advice 2) I never saw the movie and I’m making shit up as I go along or 3) the movie isn’t the worst of all-time, but it doesn’t provide for anything memorable either, and might even entertain certain peeps who scamper into the theater to seek refuge from a rainstorm or want to shut their bratty baby-sitting gig up by renting it on cheapie night. PS: Am I the only one who feels like renting the original TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES after seeing this movie? Cowabunga!!

(c) 2021 Berge Garabedian

Bulletproof Monk



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