Retro Review: Bulletproof Monk

A Tibetan monk with no name (Chow Yun Fat) is left to protect a scroll of immense power when his master passes on the cursed responsibility.

For some sixty years, the monk has wanders the world trying to fend off evil around every corner.

It isn’t until he is pickpocketed by street punk, Kar (Seann William Scott) that the monk realizes that it maybe time to pass on his power to a new apprentice. But can this street-wise delinquent be that person?

Who is this mysterious girl Jade (Jamie King) in Kar’s life? Furthermore who are the figures hunting the Monk?

There is great chemistry between master and apprentice. I especially liked the early scenes between the two. The whole apartment scene is very memorable.

I did find that the film didn’t focus enough on the relationship between our two heroes.

They are thrown together and all of a sudden they have devotion to each other.

The film needed to exploit this strength and build from it. The Karate Kid series knew all about a relationship between a master and apprentice. This film could have learned a lot from the approach taken in those films.

The film’s primary focus seems to be bridging the gap between a grizzled old Nazi and his whole obsession with the Monk. Is it really necessary to hear him spout off about his obsession and moan about the monk in every scene? OK, he hates him and he wants to get young again. Nuff said.

What was it with that underground-street life? The whole street life felt like it was ripped right out of that awful 80s flick “Super Mario Bros.” with Bob Hoskins. Every time we have a street-wise punk he always seems to have to come from some gritty punk-underground. Why is that? Why does that world always come off as goofy and gritty at the same time?

I almost wish the film took place entirely in China instead of some no-named North American city. It would have been great if Kar and the Nazi were the only Caucasians in the film.

The film’s finale is way to “comic-bookie” to be believed and the whole Nazi brain-sucking machine was so utterly laughable. Why is this simple movie so complicated? I know it’s based on a comic book but here that origin works against it instead of for it.

I really wanted to like this movie going in. I was hoping to compare it to the 80’s comedy “The Golden Child” which starred Eddie Murphy. I had also hoped it could have been as campy and delicious as “Big Trouble in Little China”. Instead it was like the filmmakers were trying to hard to blend so many different elements. Nothing in the film felt natural. There were so many things that didn’t work. The only thing that did was the Monk and Kar.

“Bulletproof Monk” is neither “The Karate Kid” nor “The Golden Child” and it probably isn’t in the same league as those films.

(3 out of 5)

So Says the Soothsayer.

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