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:: Bulletproof Monk

For many centuries the ancient Tibetan Buddhist Monks have passed on an ancient scroll that contains the secrets to infinite immortal power. The carrier or protector of this scroll is called the Bulletproof Monk. Holding the honour of protecting the scroll, which is determined and predicated by other forces beyond human reach, enables the warrior to have the power of immortality and thus be “Bulletproof.” The person who is bestowed this honour is a warrior as they will have to ward off anyone that attempts to possess the scroll and use it for evil.

For the past 60 years a Tibetan monk (Chow Yun-Fat) has been in possession of the scroll as the “Bulletproof Monk.” During his handing-over-the-scroll ceremony 60 years ago, evil WW2 Nazis attempted to gain control on the Monk and steal the scroll, but to no avail. Flash forward to 60 years later in Chinatown USA a new contender for the “Bulletproof Monk” title has emerged. Going completely against the grain and Tibetan Buddhist tradition (well, why not?) a young pick-pocketing American dude Kar (Seann William Scott), has fulfilled the Monk’s prophecies, as he is ready to pass on the gift to the next in line.

With WW2 villains in place and an added underground war of the pick pockets lead by a Mr. Funktastic, young Kar has a lot on his plate, especially when he falls for Russian mob princess Bad girl (Jamie King).

Suffice to say there is plenty of B-grade kung-fu action scenes, especially when it is discovered that our young Kar grew up in a Chinese Martial Arts Cinema. He learned all he need know about the ancient and sacred art of kung fu by watching and practicing in front of a giant cinema screen exhibiting Bruce Lee movies. There is a slight twist in the fate for our hero in the end, but it’s ever so slight that by this point you might not even care and be tempted to miss it.

Based on underground comic stories of the same name it is fairly evident that this material does not work within its given context. The story would have been far more interesting if it had stayed in Tibet with the Monks rather than transport the whole crew over to an American Martial Arts cinema theatre. The villains left little to be desired being reduced to fairly formulaic predictable, run-of-the-mill type villains that have been done to death (although the ridiculousness of Mr. Funktastic is something to be applauded). The chemistry (or severe lack of) between Scott and Yun-Fat is cringe worthy, as we feel embarrassed for poor Yun-Fat. A failed attempt at trying to cash in on the mismatched, buddy action/comedy genre, trying to mix the two cultures and calibres of acting together. Wrong. Although Scott does show that he can utter some dialogue other than dude is a vast achievement in itself, however it is obvious Yun-Fat on the other hand struggled with the mere monosyllabic dialogue his poor character is reduced to (he doesn’t even get a name!). Jamie (James) King is a treat to watch and at the very least makes the most of the little she has to work with given her character is called Bad Girl.

Directed by music video director Paul Hunter, who has directed for Eminem, J.Lo and other such American rap artists, it is a shame that he didn’t have better material to work with. A predictable story with clichéd characters that may give some a quick martial arts fix should they need one.