Chow Yun-Fat as Monk With No Name
Seann William Scott as Kar
Jamie King as Jade/Bad Girl
Karel Roden as Strucker
Victoria Smurfit as Nina
"Bulletproof Monk" has some decent action and good humor, but it never rises above mediocrity.
Kar is a goodhearted pickpocket. He has a lot of potential, but seems to lack any kind of motivation. Kar is content to break the law and work at an old movie theater that shows kung-fu movies. He even learns martial arts by mimicking the films.
His life is turned upside down one day when he meets the Monk With No Name. The Monk sees that Kar is a good soul and decides to become his mentor. He also believes that Kar may be the one to fulfill an ancient prophecy. Little does Kar know that the Monk has been granted immortality. Nazis have also pursued him for 60 years. Led by Strucker and his granddaughter Nina, the Nazis want a scroll the Monk possesses which holds the key to ruling the world.
As the Monk is pursued by Strucker's gang, Kar helps him avoid capture. He eventually even warms up to the idea of becoming the Monk's apprentice. But can Kar help save the scroll with his fledgling talents and kung-fu movie moves?
"Bulletproof Monk" is rated PG-13 for violence, language and some sexual content.
"Bulletproof Monk" is based on a comic book. I've been collecting comics for over 15 years, but I've never heard of this one. Nevertheless, it definitely feels like a comic book movie. It's full of action, humor, and outrageous stunts. It all comes together to make a silly but entertaining movie. The closest thing I can compare it to is "Tomb Raider".
"Bulletproof Monk" also feels a lot like a Jackie Chan movie. It has quite a bit of humor and amazing fights. However, Chow Yun-Fat is in the starring role. While I've mostly seen him in serious action movies and dramas, he handled this action-comedy pretty well. He also works well with Seann William Scott. As hard as it was to view Chow Yun-Fat as an action star in a comedy role, it's even harder to view Seann William Scott in an action role. However, he also handles it very well and ends up making a pretty good leading man. He looked good in the fight scenes and romance scenes as well. Jamie King even manages to step in and make a pretty intimidating action heroine.
The film has some good action scenes. There are a number of showstoppers throughout the film. There's a good chase scene in the street that ends in a shootout. The opening fight scene between the Monk and the Nazi's seems to be a fun cross between "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" and "Raiders of the Lost Ark". A fight scene on a roof and in a helicopter was also entertaining. Overall, action fans should get a kick out of it. (No pun intended.)
As I already mentioned, the film had a fair amount of humor in it. Seann William Scott provides most of it. He and Chow Yun-Fat play pretty well off of each other, too. I think, in the end, the humor saves the film. If they had tried to take themselves too seriously, "Bulletproof Monk" would have come across pretty badly.
What Didn't Work:
The main problem with "Bulletproof Monk" is that in never really becomes engaging. The characters do their job well enough, but you never care that deeply about them. The action is fun to watch, but it never does anything original. It's all derivative of "The Matrix", "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon", and a million other martial arts movies. The film never rises above mediocrity. Throw in some big plot holes, weak villains, and a silly story and you end up with a film that's briefly entertaining then utterly forgettable.
I also have realized that I'm really sick of wirework being used in action movies. Seeing people impossibly fly and having the ability to do crazy martial arts flips has lost its novelty. Without something more substantial to back it up, it's a gimmick that has run its course. How long it will take moviemakers to figure this out is another matter entirely.
The Bottom Line:
"Bulletproof Monk" is more of a renter than something you should rush out to see. There are better movies to spend your money on right now.