Sixty years ago, a Nazi supremacist named Strucker (Karel Roden), just missed out on capturing an ancient scroll endowing the person who posses this artifact with immortality. The holder of this scroll was a nameless Tibetan Monk (Chow Yun-fat), whom managed to get away from him just before he started to roam the Earth.
Today, however, the self-same Monk, has this self-same scroll, stolen from him by a vagabond come Kung-Fu enthusiast called Kar (Sean William Scott).
Ooops! Pretty bad turn up for the books, right? Depends. This theft takes place whilst they are both running away from a spot of bother they're having. The Monk is running away from Strucker’s Nazi henchmen, whom are trying to get their hands on the scroll. Whereas Kar is running away from the police, whom intercept a pick-pocketing expedition that he's on.
Still, what do you think that the Monk does to Kar when he realizes that he has stolen his scroll from him, huh? Kick his ass? Because he can you know. No. Instead he observe Kars subsequent actions from a distance, just so he can ascertain the type of chap he is.
For example; Karl fights with a motley crew of underground dwellers. Karl has a run in with femme-fatale called Jade (Jamie King). Plus in addition to this, Karl goes back to his place of work – as a projectionist in a Chinese theater – where the Monk finally unveils himself, and takes back what is rightfully is.
Case closed? Kaput? No - afraid not - because the Monk suspects that Kar may be a suitable successor as the new guardian of the scroll.
Strange? Well, not as strange as the Nazis subsequent endeavors to capture the scroll from the Monk and Kar! By road (where they meet Jade). By air (where they meet a helicopter). And by nefarious means too (where they meet more Monks).
You see, time and time again, the Nazis actions – helmed by an elderly Strucker and his Granddaughter, Nina (Victoria Smurfit) – try their best to succeed in capturing the scroll from the Monk. And then, even when they manage do accomplish this task, and capture the Monk with his scroll, he outsmarts them, by substituting the contents of the scroll for a recipe of noodle soup.
Ha! I suppose that is why what next transpires is a real eye opener for Nazi and Monk alike. As teams are made - immortals are swayed - legends are born - and premonition should do porn.
Just like many other films that I care not to mention, 'Bulletproof Monk' has a lot of good points to it, and a lot of bad points to it too. Generally speaking though, it is a film based with one foot in reality, and the other one emerged in fantasy. OK, I know, this can be a positive thing for some flicks. But for this one in particular - no - it is very hard to swallow.
Now the main reason why I say this, is because the initial focus of this film – a coming of age tale for a roguish street urchin – appears to be a grounded tale, but with a lot of superficial fare thrown in for good measure. Such as the fighting and the acting.
You see, where the fighting is concerned – like the general consensus with this film – it is of a bi-polar nature. Some of the fighting is natural, whilst the majority of it is comprised of lavish wire-work meant to elevate, but in my opinion, distracts. They should have called this film ‘Wire-work Monk’ instead, because half the time there is some sort of overtly contrived spectacle which is meant to impress. OK, fair dues, Chow Yun-fat is very good at this movie technique. But then again when it is transposed onto this ‘buddy move’ like pretext, with an emphasis on spirituality, you can’t help but laugh.
See what I mean by a good bad film?
Heck, if you compared this to other films that have employed this technique, like 'Iron Monkey' or 'Once Upon A Time In China 2' (click on the links for the reviews), I am afraid to say that this is a rather pale imitation. Moreover, once you integrate it into Westernized choreography – OOPS! No lo entiendo, comprendi?
The acting does fare much better mind you, as the main leads – Seann and Chow – really do charm there way through this movie. Bestowing onto the audience a really warm dynamic which is unfortunately impeded by the strained story-line. However, where the rest of the actors are concerned, the girls, Jaime and Victoria, look very good, but act very pout-ie. And as for Karel, he’s a passable Nazi for a ‘Scooby Doo’ villain.
Oh! And lets not forget the story, huh? For use of a better word. It is good in parts, rambling in places, and rushed in others. But generally speaking, it just about ties up any loose ends by the films completion.
Listen, I am sorry for being so negative about this film. Because overall ‘Bulletproof Monk’ isn't a bad tale really, it's just a misguided tale that could have been a lot better if placed in more knowledgeable hands. So if you are a fan of westernized Hong-Kong parables, or a fan of Chow Yun-fat or Seann William Scott, its well worth a watch. Agreed obligatory music video?
I'm not sure if that's a yes or not. Just like this film.
THE RATING: B-