Popular Broadway actor Gary Johnston is recruited by the elite counter-terrorism organization Team America: World Police. As the world begins to crumble around him, he must battle with terrorists, celebrities and falling in love.
For 60 years a mysterious monk with no name has zigzagged the globe to protect an ancient scroll - a scroll that holds the key to unlimited power. Now the Monk must look for a new scrollkeeper. Kar is an unlikely candidate, a streetwise young man whose only interest is himself. But when he inadvertently saves the Bulletproof Monk from capture, the two become partners in a scheme to save the world from the scroll's most avid pursuer. Packed with spectacular special effects and martial arts action, the Monk, Kar, and a sexy Russian mob princess called Bad Girl must struggle to find, face, and fight the ultimate enemy. Written by
Mildly entertaining hodge-podge of martial arts and commercialized Buddhism
I really wanted to like this movie. I generally enjoy Chow Yun Fat in virtually any role, I tend to enjoy martial arts films, and I am a Taoist so I at least sympathize with various forms of Buddhism. Furthermore, I believe that comic book based films are finally coming into their own as commercial cinema. However, Bulletproof Monk, though entertaining at times, never really grabbed me. I was left with the same sort of feeling I got from Tomb Raider, Aliens vs Predator, etc. Though I found Chow Yun Fat's character likable, I frequently found myself asking 'who are these people and why am I supposed to care about them?". There is a certain one-dimensionality to the characters, the script and the portrayals which can not be escaped in this film.
Chow Yun Fat has been charged with the protection of a scroll which is endowed with the secret of eternal life for over 60 years. The scroll is sought by a maniacal nazi who inexplicably turns up in Tibet during World War Two and equally improbably leads a small contingent of followers in New York city in contemporary times. Chow Yun Fat, who is in NYC for an unknown reason (probably not the best place to protect an ancient scroll of incredible power and importance), playing an unnamed Tibetan monk is pursued by this militia just as he begins to befriend a protégé who he believes might be a prophesied successor in his task of protecting the scroll (Seann William Scott). An uneasy apprenticeship begins...
The script is packed with martial art / Hollywood-Buddhist philosophical clichés, though I have to admit that this film does Buddhism better than many of its competitors. Most of these paradoxes and objects of meditations are unfortunately delivered in matter-of-fact disaffected tones. Similarly, the fight scenes are technically interesting, and convincingly violent, but generally devoid of any emotional content or ferocity. Compare any of these scenes to any performance by Bruce Lee, for example, and you'll see what I mean. Of course, Bruce was not really a traditional Buddhist, not a very ttraditional martial artist.
The cinematography is good. I especially enjoyed seeing so many familiar sights in the world's greatest city, and some of the artistically fantastic if not entirely believable sets. It was also nice to see old friends like Mako. Unfortunately, Seann William Scott's uneven performance only reinforced the frigidity of the film.
Bulletproof makes for a decent light night's entertainment, but little more. Worth seeing for martial arts and action fans.
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