|Rating:RATED PG-13 for Violence and Implied Sexuality
Starring: Chow Yun-Fat, Seann William Scott, Jamie King
Directed By: Paul Hunter
When I began writing reviews in November, the first film I reviewed was The Tuxedo, a film I gave a too high grade because I knew it would be fun to right a review that defends a really bad movie. I find it ironic that five months later I’m reviewing a film that is comparable to The Tuxedo in plat and style, but is twice as good as The Tuxedo…And I’m giving it a lower grade than I did The Tuxedo. I’ve turned into an evil critic.
Bulletproof Monk is a film that comes out near the end of a season in which disappointment has been my most common reaction to new films. I had some good expectations that this would be an entertaining and fun film, and it almost met them. But almost only counts in horseshoes and hand-grenades (I like to argue for almost counting in schoolwork, but I’m in the minority).
The story of Bulletproof Monk centers around a monk with no name (Fat), who is entrusted as the guardian of a sacred scroll which gives all who read it the power to control the world. We all know that no one should be allowed to control the world, so we understand why he must guard it. The problem is, that as soon as he comes into his guardian role his entire brethren of monks are killed by a Nazi (Karel Roden from 15 Minutes, who looks creepily similar to Gary Oldman…very creepy) who wants the scroll. The Monk escapes, and evades Nazi-man for 60 years.
Which brings us to modern day New York City, and a young man named Karr (Scott), who’s a pickpocket by day and a projectionist at a kung-fu theater by night. After the Monk witnesses Karr win a battle with a street lord, with an assist from a mysterious and hot chick named Bad Girl (King), he realizes that, despite the looks, Karr may be the prophesied next protector of the scroll. But if they’re going to stop Nazi-man, the three must team up.
The first half of Bulletproof Monk is cliched and slow, giving us nothing we haven’t seen before in character and plot development. But once the action picks up half way through, we’re treated to some beautiful action scenes that are a little bit Kung Fu and a little bit Hong Kong. Chow Yun-Fat is amazing as usual in his action presence, and Scott and King are suprisingly good in their fight scenes. The fights are beautifully choreographed, and don’t cease to entertain us throughout the film.
The strongest point this film has is it’s cast, with the three leads oozing charisma that few stars give off in this kind of film. AS mentioned above, Chow Yun-Fat is perfect, definitely cementing his place as the best international action star today with his style, grace, and amusing facial reactions. Seann William Scott is probably the most charismatic young actor we have, and though the character is no stretch when you look at his previous characters, he comes off as an entertaining star. The revelation is Jamie King, an actress whose previous work consists of horrible films like Slackers and Pearl Harbor, but who here is a perfect female lead. She’s not an Oscar caliber star (yet), but she’s got a lot of commercial film potential, and I hope to see more from her in the near future.
Despite these high points, I can’t outright recommend Bulletproof Monk. It’s too unoriginal in plot, and the first half of the film is too tedious. I give massive props to the cast and the crew for making this a enjoyable film experience, but in the end it’s only enjoyable, giving us nothing substantial and meaningful, except for finally answering the question “Why do Hot Dogs come in packages of 10, while Hot Dog Buns come in packages of only 8?” It’s a film that will probably end up in my personal collection, thanks to the great cast and cool action scenes. But most viewers are stingier than I am, and even I know this is not an extremely good movie. At least it wasn’t another shameful disappointment.