Saturday 26 May 2007

Bulletproof Monk (2003) Paul Hunter

I've held back from this one for quite some time because I've heard bad things about it. I'm a Chow Yun Fat fan from way back, from his heroic bloodshed days when I was buying everything that Made in Hong Kong were releasing in England. However he made this one in the States speaking English with a heavy accent and so I've been rather wary. Given the other actors and characters in the film, it's hardly likely to hold true to old Cantonese standards.

We begin in Tibet in 1943 outside the Temple of Sublime Truth and Chow Yun Fat is pole fighting his master on a rope bridge above a chasm. The wirework is very over the top and very obvious, and he wins the fight. It's all a test, the final test and now that he's passed he can inherit the mantle from the previous grand master of the temple and be entrusted to look after a scroll that provides amazing powers, including the ability to never age. Unfortunately it's 1943 and the Nazis are outside and soon Chow is the only monk left alive.

Sixty years later he's in New York or whichever very urban American city it's supposed to be where he meets up with Seann William Scott. Scott is Kar, an accomplished pickpocket getting himself in trouble by picking the pocket of a cop. However he gets chased by the cop's backup at exactly the same time and in exactly the same place that Chow is getting chased by persons unknown, and together they rescue a young girl from being run over by a train. Chow sees that he's a decent troublemaker and can't help but remember himself sixty years earlier.

Scott is one of the greatest professional pissants in the movie business and he does an excellent job here, reminding me of Ryan Reynolds in Blade Trinity, notably smaller and less powerful than his opponents but always ready with a quick comeback, not just in the words he uses, but also in his face and body language. Chow is known for his action roles but he's a good comedian, as I recall from Tiger on the Beat and God of Gamblers. Given that the action is completely over the top comic book stuff, Chow's comedy does make up for a lot of it and the young Russian lady called Jade is intriguing too.

Unfortunately it doesn't make up for Mister Funktastic and a lot of the other smaller roles including for too many blatant stereotypes, from the heartless Nazi in a wheelchair with a torture chamber to his beautiful and strictly blonde beautiful granddaughter and the big, bald mercenaries with curly wired earpieces. Of course everyone seems to be a martial arts expert, even when there's no viable reason for them to be, and even Mako's part sucks, though he's about as good as anyone could expect to be playing it. There's some cool stuff here, and that goes beyond the cool aging makeup, but there's also far too much complete nonsense.

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