Written by Ethan Reiff, Cyrus Voris
Running Time: 1:43
Seann William Scott
Bulletproof Monk was a so-so action film with good actors put into the middle of a plot that almost seemed as if it was a parody of itself.
There is a scroll in the world that if read, will give the reader control of the entire planet. So naturally, only bad guys want it and good guys (in this case, monks) protect it. During World War II a transfer is made; the honor of protecting of the scroll is passed from one monk to another. Being given that honor allows the monk protection from evil (a.k.a. making him bulletproof), but it also means people are going to come after him. In this case it's a German soldier, bent on getting rid of all inferior races, and he figures the easiest way to do that is by getting the scroll. He spends the next 60 years searching for it. Flash forward to 2003 and our monk is now in what appears to be New York City. It is time for another passing of the torch, and Mr. monk happens upon a pickpocket who seems to be fulfilling an ancient prophecy. This pickpocket, named Kar, waffles back and forth between wanting to help Sir monk and wanting to be left alone. And of course there is a girl involved who is hot and Kar falls for her. The German soldier, still kicking after all these years (with the help of his granddaughter who lovingly calls the man still wanting to set back race relations a few generations, Opa), is still after the scroll. You pretty much know how the movie ends.
First question everyone needs to know the answer to: Is the monk really bulletproof? It depends on how you define bulletproof, but he can take a shot and live, so I'd say yes. Any other questions will have to be asked at a later date. For what it was, an action film with Stifler from the American Pie films, I thought Bulletproof Monk was a decent film. This may be the first time I've ever watched a movie however, and thought that the costuming person did a bad job. Seann William Scott (and does he have two N's in his first name to match the double letters in his middle and last name?) should not have been wearing that leather jacket. He's a well built young man and that jacket was too small; it made him look like a little boy. To be honest, every time he had it on I was disturbed by it. All wrong Mr. costume person, all wrong. Otherwise I like Seann; I think he's a pretty funny guy and he did a good job between the action and comedy in the role. Chow Yun-Fat wasn't used for his action skills as much as I had hoped. If you see some of the earlier films he made with John Woo like Hard-Boiled or The Killer, you know he can do the whole action thing pretty well. The only time I felt like he was 'on' was when he had the guns blasting on top of the car. Otherwise he was more mentor than hero. And Jamie King was surprisingly good as the tough chick with the hidden secret, even if that secret seemed to be slapped together at the last second and have nothing to do with the story.
Another thing I noticed with the film is that the editing seemed off. During the fight scenes there were a lot of close-ups cut into the fight which made the fights seem, well, off. You never got a sense that two people were fighting, it seemed more like people were getting ready for their close-up. I understand that stunt men (and women) are going to be used for a lot of the fight, so close-ups are necessary to make the audience believe that the actors are fighting, but when you use too many close-ups, you don't feel like anyone is fighting. The setting I presume was supposed to be New York City but it didn't look or feel like NYC, which is probably because it was filmed in Toronto, but still, at least make me think it's New York. And the special effects were a little on the cheap looking side. I guess I've been spoiled over the last few years with the jump in special effects so when someone doesn't use as much money, or uses a special effects company that is run by a former actor who used to play Robin (I'm looking at you Burt Ward), it doesn't look as good as when you use an established company like say, Industrial Light and Magic.
Then there's the plot. Special scroll; use it to take over the world; protected by monks; the only person who seems to know about it is a German solider. 60 years later the German soldier is running around in a wheelchair looking like an aged Dr. Evil. I swear when I saw him in the wheelchair I thought it was Chris Kattan doing an SNL parody of Austin Powers. The whole thing just seemed so cliché. An evil Nazi wants to take over the world. How many times has that been done before? I guess in the over-politically correct world we live in the only people you can safely use as bad guys anymore are the Nazi's because really, who is gonna defend them? There are Jewish defense leagues and Muslim anti-defamation leagues and People for the Ethical Treatment of Chinese and whatnot, but there aren't a lot of Save the Nazi people out there; at least none that are taken seriously. So when in doubt, use a Nazi as your bad and while you're at it, let's make him want to take over the world. There was even the way over-the-top torture device that was never really explained and had something to do with water and brains. I kept thinking that the filmmakers must have seen Austin Powers and should know better but alas, they didn't.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Overall, Bulletproof Monk was just a middle-of-the-road kind of film. The plot has been done to death and the actors weren't utilized to the best of their abilities. However there is a good amount of action so it wasn't all bad. And the ending is a perfect set-up for a sequel, if this one manages to do remotely well.
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