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I thought it was charming. I thought it was fun. I enjoyed it a great
deal. I liked the characters a lot too (especially the Monk). Now I'm
looking for other movies starring Yun-Fat Chow.
I must admit that I did find the underground cavern and the mysterious mind-reading device to be rather over-the-top, but that was the only part of the movie I didn't like.
Please keep in mind that this movie _is_ based on a comic book. It's not meant to be Important, World-changing theatre. It's meant to be a fast-paced (it is), interesting (I thought so), fun-to-watch (yes) story.
Chow Yun-Fat is the "Monk with No Name" who protects an ancient scroll.
Anyone who recites the scroll can harness unlimited power, utilizing it
for either good or evil. The scroll-keeper has the advantage of not
aging and not being able to be physically harmed. The Monk has been on
the run from would be rulers of the universe for 60 years when he
finally runs into a potential new scroll-keeper as promised by
Bulletproof Monk is a "light" comic book/fantasy/action/martial arts/comedy film in the vein of The Golden Child (1986) and The Medallion (2003). It leans most strongly towards the fantasy genre, but it's frequently funny (perhaps more subtly than one would expect) and loaded with visually poetic, wire-heavy martial arts.
Seann William Scott is Kar, a street kid who has a flair for kung fu, which he picked up by endlessly watching and emulating Asian films at the theater where he both lives and works as the projectionist. He has even more of a flair for pickpocketing. The Monk runs into him while both are on the run, and there are a number of cleverly staged scenes where Kar tries to palm a few extra bucks while the Monk attempts to teach him both ethics and enlightenment via koans about things like hot dogs and buns.
During these early scenes, they run into a hilarious group of what are effectively CHUDs (Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers) minus the C, headed by a rooster-haired thug named "Funktastic". This is some of the more slyly funny material in the film--the HUDs even have an abandoned subway car turned disco in their underground lair.
The kung fu throughout most of Bulletproof Monk is of the variety often mythologized by kids as being akin to "magic". The Monk can defy gravity, move fast enough that he seems to predict his opponent's moves with near omniscience, and dodge bullets. He can even fight and eat a bowl of Cocoa Puffs at the same time. The real aim is to approach a Matrix (1999)-like reality-bending in the film's universe. Although the fantasy, almost dance-like nature of many of the fight scenes may turn off those looking for more realistic action, Troy Liddell also choreographs some parts of fight scenes more traditionally, with Yun-Fat performing something very similar to aikido--he primarily yields instead of blocking or countering, and uses his opponent's moves against themselves. It's an interesting approach that isn't used often enough in martial arts films.
The principle flaw with Bulletproof Monk is that too many plot elements and characters seem to flow by too quickly. There isn't a lot of time to delve very far into many threads. This gives the film a more superficial feel that should have been solved by lengthening and tightening the focus to give elements at least a typical James Bond film significance and weight. Aspects of the film may also be a bit too clichéd for some viewers tastes.
But you probably wouldn't watch Bulletproof Monk expecting a masterpiece. As a wispy fantasy/action film, geared as much towards adolescents as any other age group, Bulletproof Monk is a rewarding way to spend an hour and a half. I'm a fan of Yun-Fat's work, including this film, and I enjoyed both Scott and Jaime King's performances quite a bit. In fact, I liked the film enough to hope for a sequel.
It was hard to watch this film and not compare some of the wild action/fight
scenes with those in the Matrix or its over-hyped sequel. Whilst the scenes
in BPM are not as polished or well done as those in the Matrix, they are
entertaining enough and the choreography and use of props showed much more
promise and imagination than those in the Wachowski Bros. productions (at
least in regard to the Matrix Reloaded, anyhow).
But this film did not receive the hype that TMR did and, consequently, my expectations of it were lower. As a result, I was not disappointed in BPM as I was with TMR. Sure, its all silliness, but at least it has the humour to go along with that silliness. In short, it doesn't take itself too seriously, and neiither should the audience.
Chow-Yun Fat shows he can play non-serious roles and get away with it, and Sean William Scott shows he can do other parts away from American Pie and its teen comedy clones. But a particular joy to see in this film is the appearance of Mako, whom I haven't seen much of in recent years. He only has a small role in this film, but he steals the show whenever he's on screen.
The kung-fu isn't quite as wild as Crouching Tiger's flying escapades nor is the wire-work quite so obvious. All in all a fun movie that should be watched as it was intended, as sheer escapism.
There are a few bad points. Watch out for the villain at the end. He should get the "worst villain's hairstyle" award for his mullet. That, and the ludicrous torture machine are the lighter negative aspects in an otherwise entertaining movie, and even they somehow just add to the fun. The only really dire moment is "Mr Funktastic's" atrocious British accent/choice of language. There are some things Hollywood will NEVER get right!
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.
I'll be brief.
The movie starts with a bang, and ends with a boom, with plenty of pops and kabangs along the way.
You want a movie that's fun, with likable actors, good action, a light plot that moves right along, and more than a few genuine chuckles? This is one of those.
Watching Chow Yun Fat work is fun, whether he's giving life to a substantial, full orbed character such as in Crouching Tiger, or to a more stereotypical one as the Monk with No Name.
Don't confuse the movies, and you'll have fun. As for all the vitriolic, acidic critics... maybe some folks just need to take themselves just a tad less seriously.
Or a few tads.
I have just gotten back from seeing Bulletproof Monk (literally) which is
essentially a very cheesy movie, but dammit if it isn't fun! I knew the
movie was going to be silly, but I just wanted to see some wire-fu and be
The story is silly, it's about a monk who has to protect a scroll that when read will give the reader ultimate power (of course the protector of the scroll gets the magical power of wife-fu abilities). This monk (who has no name) has to find a new protector because it's been 60 years. So he chooses a pickpocket named Kar to become the nameless monk. And then they cavort around and run into a group of neo-nazis after the scroll (those wacky neo-nazis!) a Russian mafia princess named Jade (played by the smoking hot Jaime King) and a British guy with a mohawk named Mr. Funktastic, who lives in the underground of the New York subway, and keeps making verbal threats to cut men's genitalia off.
This movie takes itself lightheartedly, so the main duo of Seann William Scott and Chow Yun-Fat act like they are cast in a buddy cop film. Both Scott and Chow are funny (especially Chow), the wire-fu is entertaining, Jaime King is hot, and the whole movie works.
It's not the best film ever, and I couldn't tell you if it's the best Chow Yun-Fat film ever, since my local Hollywood video lacks his Hong Kong imports. But Bulletproof Monk may entertain those who like cheesy martial art flicks, or appese the action junkie while he has to wait to see the next summer blockbuster. I don't like rating systems, but if I did I would give it a 6 out of 10. It's not great but good. Have fun with it.
In 1943, in Tibet, a monk (Yun-Fat Chow) renounces his name and becomes
the new guardian of a powerful scroll. Meanwhile, a troop of Nazis
leaded by a sick commander invades the monastery and kills the other
monks, trying to steal the scroll. The monk without name spends the
next sixty years protecting the scroll and looking for his successor,
who shall be a person who fulfills three prophecies. In USA, he meets
the lonely pickpocket Kar (Seann William Scott), and he believes that
Kar may be the next protector of the scroll. Kar stays with the monk
and falls in love with the beautiful Jade (Jaime King), while the monk
is chased by a gang leaded by the former nazi commander and his
daughter Nina. I found this film a good entertainment. There are lots
of action, funny moments and in the end, it is a good action movie. The
beauty of the unknown Jaime King is very impressive. I really did not
understand why the scroll is not simply destroyed, since neither the
guardians nor the monks use its power except for keeping the youth of
the protector for sixty years. Further, the motives for the parallel
life of Jade are simply ridiculous. My vote is seven.
Title (Brazil): 'O Monge à Prova de Balas' ('The Bulletproof Monk')
Bulletproof Monk has a plot like it is the Indiana Jones of martial art
flicks. You have a monk that is chosen every 60 years to protect a scroll
that will give anyone who reads it invincible. The film revolves around The
Monk with No Name (Chow) trying to find a new chosen one (Scott) while
avoiding a nazi super-villain that he incountered 60 years
The film is more of a comedy than an action film and Sean William Scott and Chow Yun Fat play off each other well in a world where they are chased by nazis and run into characters like a British guy named Mr. Funktastic. Sean plays a goofy pickpocket well and Chow is excellent as a calm, smug, nameless monk...then again Chow has always been good at acting smug. Of course there has to be a leading lady and Jamie King is as good looking as they come and plays her character well.
The action all involves wire-fu, like that as seen in "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon", but not as dynamic. Since most of the characters are new to martial arts the fights are a little slow but entertaining and lighthearted none the less.
Bulletproof Monk could have been a lot better than it is, with a little more time spent on it, but as it is it is a silly amusing film, which kept me entertained for an hour and a half. I recommend it to martial art flick junkies.
Being a comics collector, I had to see this movie, since it is based on a
comic book. When I left the cinema I was both disappointed and gratified,
but looking back on it I found my disappointment waning and my
growing. This was - or rather, could have been, if it had been successful
enough to spawn a franchise - a new Highlander (which is just about my
favorite movie). It had all the elements. Unfortunately, it also had some
bad things. That Nazis were the villains is really something I could have
done without. It made the movie unintentionally comical (by which I mean
laughable, not comic book-like) before it had even gotten well underway.
the Funktastic character has GOT to rate as one of the WORST things in
movie EVER (EVER, I say!!). But I think there was enough good stuff in
rest of the movie to make up for these howlers.
The cast indeed was very charismatic and did not feel like just another set of interchangeable Hollywood cronies. I expected not to like Seann William Scott, but I ended up feeling he did a great job (and no, I didn't see the ridiculous American Pie movies, what're you, nuts!?). Despite what others may say, I thought his kung fu was convincing, and his character actually endearing. I've never been that big a fan of Chow Yun Fat, because he's more a gangster movie actor than a kung fu movie actor, and I have no fondness for Hong Kong (or, for that matter, Hollywood) gangster movies. But as in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (which I loved and have seen many, many times), he filled his role very nicely here. Note that his superhuman kung fu was explained by his possessing the power of the scrolls; it wasn't just gratuitous. As for Jamie King, she just wowed me totally. She radiated both toughness and beauty (and ultimately, tenderness), and seemed like a believable character. Her being the daughter of a Russian mafia boss made her fighting skills credible.
One of the things I appreciated most about this movie was its ending. I'm usually always disappointed with really badly written Hollywood endings, but I absolutely LOVED this one. For both of the young leads to share the power was a great idea (also serving to bond them in their relationship), and it could make for a superb superhero-like sequel, since their fighting skills were radically increased by the power of the scroll. Unfortunately, we'll probably never see it. *Sigh.*
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
When I recently went to see Bulletproof Monk, I made the mistake of going
with high expectations, given the silly title and the fact Stifler is now
action hero, this was an error on my part. I know now that I should have
had no expectations, but still would have been dissapointed.
I will try not to give any spoilers but no promises, and you will probably thank me for giving them as it will save you 8 bucks and 2 hours of your life. The movie is horrible, plain and simple. I tried to take a silly outlook as another reviewer said, but it just doesn't work. The story is not necessarily un-original, but just the same ol' evil guy wants to rule world stuff. In a quick wrap-up of points, the story doesn't hold up, the direction is crappy, the script is awful, and don't start with acting. Chow Yun Fat needs subtitles when he is speaking in English...I understood more in the Tibet dialogue!
The action and choreography are not bad, but it is nothing spectacular, especially given the recent flood of action movies that have been released. With this surge of movies, one must have not necessarily original, but atleast well thought out ideas and choreography to stand out. Bulletproof Monk has neither.
In essence, it just a very very poor version of The Matrix, and I suggest watching The Matrix before you go to see BM, as their stories are frighteningly similar. Bulletproof Monk is a rental, if even that. Scott is not cut out for action movies, but makes a valid attempt, and having a final fight sequence with the bad guy in a Waffen SS uniform is just hilarious, not suspenseful.
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