Movie Review: Bulletproof Monk (2003)

Starring: Yun-Fat Chow, Seann William Scott and Jamie King

Directed by: Paul Hunter

For sixty years a Tibetan monk has been given the duty to protect an ancient scroll from falling into the wrong hands. He finds himself seeking a successor in the most unlikely of places as he tries to protect the scroll from a Nazi soldier that he fought off during World War II.

This was one of Seann William Scott’s first attempts at breaking away from a very typecast role that he found himself playing throughout much of his career. While rising to fame playing Steve Stifler in the American Pie movies, most roles that followed were very similar in a sense that it was goofy comedy which in all fairness to Seann William Scott he does play extremely well. Bulletproof Monk was a way for him to show that he has a lot more to offer than poop and fart jokes. While the best movie he has done which breaks away from his usual role is Just Before I Go, which was a fantastic movie which hasn’t really received mainstream attention that it deserves, I wasn’t overly expectant of Bulletproof Monk reaching such heights but I had my fingers crossed that it would surprise me.

Yun-Fat Chow stars as a Tibetan monk who during WWII is passed the responsibility with guarding a sacred scroll which if read in its entirety will give the reader the power to rule the world. With the Nazi’s coming close to seizing the scroll the Monk makes his getaway with the scroll in safe hands. Fast forward sixty years and the nameless Monk is in search for his successor, only if that person fulfils the three prophecies. He stumbles across Kar, played by Seann William Scott who temporarily steals the scroll while pickpocketing in the subway. He sees something in Kar and sticks around to see if he is the one worthy to be the next scroll guard while also trying to avoid a team of mercenaries chasing after him. The people who are close on his and Kar’s tails are employed by the same Nazi who came close to capturing the scroll sixty years prior, he’s enlisted the help of his grand daughter as the now frail old man needs the scroll to live and complete his conquest for racial purity.

In terms of the martial arts in the movie, there were some fight scenes that were very entertaining but others were just extremely lack lustre and looked very sloppily put together. The Monk character played by Yun-Fat Chow was well played and was a very likeable character to watch but unfortunately Seann William Scott, who played Kar, was unable to settle into the martial arts action hero role and looked a little out of place. While the comedy he provided was pretty solid, as you’d expect it to be, this just wasn’t a successful transition from the comedy roles he was famous for playing.

At times I had to question the purpose of certain characters within the film, such as underground gang leader Mr. Funktastic (worst name ever by the way), who was involved in a big fight scene early on with Kar for that part of the story to never be touched upon again. I felt like there was some unfinished business between the two but nothing ever happened after their initial bout. Jamie King was cast to play Kar’s love interest, Jade, and she was another confusing choice as she didn’t really suit the role she was playing and I thought there could’ve been an endless list of possibilities of who they could’ve cast instead of her who would’ve done a much better job. I’ve never really rated her as an actress and thought she looked a little unnatural in the role and only brought the movie down more than anything.

In conclusion, despite a good performance from Yun-Fat Chow with some half decent martial arts action, Bulletproof Monk doesn’t really offer a great deal else. It’s no wonder why Yun-Fat Chow has generally stayed away from Hollywood if this is what they’re going to cast him in.

4/10

A pretty disappointing start to my May Movie adventure but at least it’s uphill from here….hopefully

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