BulletProof Monk

By Andrew Duff

A no name monk flees a Tibetan monastery carrying the “Scroll of the Ultimate” that is said to grant, you guessed it, ultimate power to whoever reads it out loud. However, the scroll also makes its protector nearly invincible, and this monk needs to be since a bunch of power-hungry Nazis are chasing after him.

This is the set-up for “BulletProof Monk,” a typical kung fu action thriller with a good bit of comedy added in the form of Kar (Seann William Scott), who learned martial arts from watching too many kung fu films. After a chance encounter with the guardian monk, played by Chow Yun-Fat, the two join together when the monk thinks Kar might be his successor as guardian of the scroll. This is 60 years after the monk was given the duty, and he hasn’t aged a bit.

Sorry, you’ll have to suspend your belief that Nazis possibly could have chased some monk for the better part of a century. Please try to enjoy the wacky antics as the monk and Kar fight thugs and Nazis in Italian suits.

Roughly based on a comic book of the same name, the story of a legendary hero isn’t a new one to the movies. Why Chow doesn’t use the scroll himself and get rid of all the problems in the world, like the hell-bent Nazis chasing him, is a mystery. Things really pick up with the addition of “Bad Girl” (Jaime King) to the cast, who is not only a street-smart fighter, but also the daughter of a famous Russian mobster. Sure, it doesn’t make sense, but then again, it does keep par with the rest of the film’s storyline. King also plays the role of Kar’s love interest; but since they share nothing in common and barely talk, the rate at which these two mismatched lovebirds go at it leaves most of the audience with an acute case of embarrassment.

The movie seems to drag on a bit long. The monk and Kar take the viewer on a wild ride through run-down Asian movie theaters, abandoned subway stations and hidden monasteries underneath Thai restaurants. It rarely slows down, and when it does, it’s only so Kar can make an ass of himself.

So is “BulletProof Monk” a bad movie? Yes and no. While the plot of evil Nazis and noble martial artists brings nothing new to the table, if you can manage to ignore the paper-thin story and focus on the action, it’s a pretty decent kung fu film. Most of Chow’s stunts are a clever mix of real martial arts and the sort of fighting found in movies like “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon,” only without the blatantly obvious use of wires and trick camera work.

I didn’t feel ripped off watching “BulletProof Monk” since it didn’t attempt to be anything it’s not, and its only real flaw was adding comedy to what easily could have been a pure action film. Coincidentally, I found this movie more entertaining than “Daredevil,” if only because it didn’t tote itself as the next big thing in action movies and kept itself free of attempts to create emotions from the audience for the flat characters.

If you’re bored on a Friday night, “BulletProof Monk” is a decent way to kill a few hours, just don’t go in expecting brilliant writing or over-the-top special effects.