This monk’s a doofus
Poor Chow Yun-Fat. Considering the mammoth size of his fame overseas—having been the star of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and some of the more renowned John Woo films—it would seem he’d be able to make one decent American film. His latest, Bulletproof Monk, is only a modest improvement over the likes of Anna and the King and The Corruptor. In other words, Yun-Fat is still looking for his first, good American-made movie.
After some monks get ambushed by an evil Nazi trying to steal a powerful scroll, one particularly brazen monk (Yun-Fat) is given the task of guarding the scroll for the next 60 years. The negative side of this is that Yun-Fat’s Monk With No Name must spend decades running away from evil Nazis, and evil Nazis can be such a deterrent to a happy life. The positive side is that he will not age, staying youthful and spry in a very Highlander sort of way.
Monk With No Name picks a modern day successor in Kar (Seann William Scott), a punk pickpocket who has honed some extensive fighting skills watching martial arts films at the theater where he works and lives.
The evil Nazi, now confined to a wheelchair and sporting bad old-age make-up, continues his relentless pursuit, as one would expect an evil Nazi to do. Monk and Kar become a martial arts dynamic duo, kicking Nazi ass and exchanging stupid one-liners.
Scott, who played Stifler in the American Pie films, crosses over to action with a relative degree of success. He’s gotten himself into good shape and seems credible enough in fighting mode. Unfortunately, he can’t escape the shadow of Stifler this time out. The writers even throw in a joke where he inadvertently gets his hand covered in urine, a gag Scott should be right at home with after drinking semen beer and enduring a golden shower in the Pie films.
The movies that get ripped off in Bulletproof Monk are plentiful and obvious. The flying fight scenes owe plenty to the likes of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Iron Monkey, the differentiating factor being that those were actually good movies, while this one is crap. When Stifler’s, I mean Scott’s, character has his big “realization” near the film’s end, resulting in the superhuman ability to kick villainous butt, it’s a direct pilfering of that cool moment in The Matrix when Keanu Reeves realizes he’s the Messiah and starts killing everybody. Cinematic thievery!
Outshining everyone is former supermodel Jamie King as Jade, an ass-kicking bad girl with a spotty past and a killer roundhouse. She’s fun to watch, even if her line delivery is leaden at times. Scott and King actually have good chemistry, while Yun-Fat acts like a martial arts party pooper. God, he’s just not good in American movies. His parts make him look like a doofus. Will somebody please figure out how to properly use this man in American entertainment?
The movie is based upon a “very underground” comic book series. Judging by how much Bulletproof Monk blows, it comes as no surprise that next to nobody has heard about the comic, which will probably remain underground.
While Scott will be returning to the role of Stifler for American Pie 3, where he’ll probably do something along the lines of eating a poop cupcake, Yun-Fat is rumored to be working with John Woo for his next American movie.
This is promising, for Woo is the man who created Yun-Fat’s The Killer and Hard Boiled. Let us hope that a Woo collaboration makes for better ass-kicking and fewer urine jokes.