No way can this review be as cooly titled as the film which it reviews…
by Kevin Flanagan
Hollywood films rely on stereotypes and archetypes. We know this, we often turn a blind eye (or two), and yet we sift through the disappointments for those few films that succeed through the courage of their convictions and by way of a craftsmanship that only the biggest-budgeted of films can provide. BULLETPROOF MONK, a 2003 dud from director Paul Hunter, has neither courage nor convictions. It has audacity…though polite comedy throughout, it has the zany wherewithal to have a peaceful Tibetan monk enthuse about his first vacation in forty years just seconds before he is machine-gunned by Nazi treasure hunters.
Chow Yun-Fat, here playing a Monk who has foresworn his name in order to protect an ancient scroll, traverses the globe doing good deeds and evading capture by Strucker (Karel Roden), the vengeful Nazi responsible for the above machine-gunning. Strucker has vague dreams of racial purity, world domination, and ever-lasting life, and therefore creates a puppet human rights organization that masks his evil quest. Of course, the plot thins when street-wise waif and self-professed slacker Kar (Seann William-Scott, far better in nearly every role that is not this one) crosses paths with the Monk and is thrust into protecting the scroll and accepting an ideology that is not based on theft, womanizing, or street cred.
BULLETPROOF MONK’S narrative illustrates what “going through the motions” means, though the action set-pieces verge on quite good. Overall, the film eschews the worst kind of cod speculation on mystical East meets secular West.
Best line –
JADE (love interest and daughter of a Russian mob boss, in a garage with nice automobiles): How do you like the car….KAR????