When I first saw the advertisements for Bulletproof Monk I became as giddy as a schoolboy on Christmas day. Then I remembered the Comic Book it was based on. A thinly plotted, poorly drawn rag that always left the reader with the suspicion that Satan himself had a hand in destroying their entertainment. So needless to say, my enthusiasm waned to the point of non-existence. With that said, opening day fast approached and I decided to take full advantage of a pair of free tickets that I had received through a radio contest. I'm kind of glad I did.
Paul Hunter does a good job of bringing this comic book to the big screen. His vision of a gravity-defying monk in the middle of New York City is spot on. He makes the environment seem realistic and a campy at the same time, a tough feat to accomplish no matter who the director is. He also allows the characters to develop on screen the way they were never allowed to in the comic book. They actually evolve throughout the film.
While his directing was above average, the writing left a lot to be desired. The story had about every single cliché that the American action/buddy flick has created over the years. A very basic good guy vs. bad guy storyline where the good guy is the stereotypical strong and wise figure and the bad guy is the ruthless old Nazi. I believe that the Nazi angle should have been left on the pages of the comic book. They didn’t work there and they don’t work in the film. They are too campy and never really make the audience feel that they are a threat to the heroes. Besides "Bad Girl", they are the weakest characters in the movie.
I was disappointed in the ending; it is very predictable and over used. You can see what’s happening and where the movie is going from a mile off. Granted, the writers tried to throw a little surprise in at the ending but it seemed forced and unnatural. It never flowed the way a good story should. This made me feet like I was eating a bread sandwich, no meat!
I felt that the casting was pretty good with one exception. Sean Scott and Chow Yun-Fat delivered in all aspects of their characters, both delivering great lines and moments of genuine feeling. But Jaime King just couldn’t get into the part of "Bad Girl", she look very stiff and showed no emotion while delivering her lines.
Chow Yun-Fat plays a Monk with no name, better known simply as The Monk. He is the keeper of an ancient scroll that gives whoever reads it ultimate power... blah, blah, blah... Like I said, it's something we've all seen before. What really makes this movie entertaining is the casting.
Both Chow Yun-Fat and Sean Scott turn in surprisingly fresh performances. Chow is perfect as the Monk. He is enigmatic yet funny, always delivering his lines with a perfect tinge of innocence and wisdom.
Sean Scott surprised me by moving away from his IQ-impaired roles he has sported in the past. I’m happy he took the chance. He plays the role with a wit and strength I didn't know he possessed. His comedy is spotless but his action sequences pretty good as well. While he's not as smooth in some of the fight scenes as Chow Yun-Fat, he does make them very believable.
When it comes to the action, Hunter does a great job with slow motion and suspension wires to create the tough combination of physically impossible yet believable fight scenes. The stage is set right at the beginning of the movie where the Monk is battling another man on a narrow suspension bridge. It lets the audience know that this isn't a serious film, that there will be unbelievable acts of heroism. And that it's ok to forget about the real world.
Martial arts fans will rejoice in the way this movie takes up the characteristics of its Chinese predecessors. By creating a world where anything can happen as long as you
"Believe", it takes you back to the Saturday afternoon "Kung Fu Theater" movies that we all grew up with. And that is where this movie succeeds; it doesn’t take itself too seriously. It grants the wish that you can forget the outside world when you go to the movies.
While it allows the audience to suspend belief, it's lack of a coherent story and entertaining villains will put off the average movie watcher. It just won’t deliver the same level of fun as it does to the die-hard martial arts fan.
And because of this, I wouldn't recommend it at full price. But if you get a chance to see it at a matinee or rent it once it comes out, I suggest you do.