Movie Name: Bulletproof Monk
Studio: Lakeshore Entertainment
Genre(s): Comic Book/Action/Adventure/Martial Arts/Comedy
Release Date(s): April 16, 2003
MPAA Rating: PG-13
A monk (Chow Yun-Fat) has been assigned to protect a sacred scroll and for sixty years he’s kept the scroll out of the hands of a Nazi named Strucker (Karel Roden). When he encounters a pickpocket named Kar (Seann William Scott) in New York City, the monk realizes that Kar could be the man he is searching for to replace him as the scroll’s guardian. The monk must first gain Kar’s trust and train him, but Strucker is getting closer.
Directed by Paul Hunter, Bulletproof Monk adapted the three issue limited series by Image. The series was released in 1999 and featured art by Michael Avon Oeming. The movie was met with negative reviews and was a box office failure.
When Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was released to record numbers and positive reviews, a flood of movies hit the U.S. filled with wire work and Shaolin style fighting. Bulletproof Monk was just another one of these films though this film did take an American approach.
The story for the movie is very generic and often feels like it has no direction. The movie basically is “the monk shouldn’t get caught by the Nazis” and instead of the Nazis dogging the monk and Kar, it feels like there is a lot of downtime in the chase…it just doesn’t have the level of action needed for the story.
The cast also is a let-down. The makers of the movie couldn’t decide if they wanted an action movie, an action-comedy, or just a comedy and Chow Yun-Fat and SeannWilliam Scott seem confused as to how they are supposed to proceed. They aren’t helped by their supporting cast of Jaime King or the two generic Nazis in Karel Roden and Victoria Smurfit.
As good as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was, this looks pretty poor. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon made the unrealistic seem realistic, but here they just seem cheesy and fake. Much like the story problems, the action isn’t punchy enough to wow the audience.
Bulletproof Monk is a rather generic action film that doesn’t have much of an identity. The movie didn’t ride the wave of comic book films and probably would have been pushed heavier as a “comic book film” if it was released today. The movie feels like there should be more adventures for the characters, but the movie’s failure ensured that the monk’s journey is over.
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