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Bulletproof Monk

Starring Chow Yun-Fat and Seann William Scott
Screenplay by Ethan Rieff and Cyris Voris; based on the comic book
Directed by Paul Hunter

screened at Loew's eWalk 42nd Street, NYC

IN SHORT: Perfectly average action flick released in time to whet your whistle for the next Matrix flick. [Rated PG-13 for Violence, Language and Some Sexual Content. ]

Mix The Matrix slo mo bullet effects with lower budget martial arts a la the Kung Fu TV show without a lot of the philosophical stuff, add Nazis and drop a clever twist ending on it and what do you get? You get a clever twist ending that comes far after (you) have ceased to give a whit. Or maybe not. We can only speak for our experience at Bulletproof Monk which, if nothing else, gets us wishing that a certain other movie with kung fu fights would hurry up and get here (which, considering that we were one of three people on the face of the planet that didn't like The Matrix, is saying a lot).

Bulletproof Monk, teams Chow Yun-Fat as a Tibetan Monk with No Name and his American "disciple" Kar (Seann William Scott) -- he's not, but revealing the connection spoils one of the best gags that pepper the film -- and saves all of its martial arts bells and whistles for a big blowout at movie's end. Yes, there are kung fu battles that lead to that big finish but they're all rather uninspired and, by the time the big finish finally arrives, we didn't care.

Deep in the middle of Tibet,1943 a scroll of Ancient Secrets is handed down to the most worthy of monks we meet in the film's prolog. Reading the contents of the scroll out loud will, we are told, imbue the reader with everlasting life and the power to rule the world, for good or evil. Enter the Nazis, led by our archfiend Struker (Karel Roden). Exit No-Name, to reappear sixty years later on the other side of the world, not having aged a day.

Down in the subway tunnels of some unnamed American city, a streetwise pickpocket is about to get his life picked by the roustabouts who claim control of the tunnels. For a mere 60% commission of his daily haul, Klark [pronounced Kar] (Scott) won't spend the rest of his life missing his pouch of danglers. The thugs use harsher language -- they're led by a Cockney spewing Brit with an accent thicker than molasses and the words Mr Fantastic tattooed across his chest. This monument of intellectualism, Mister Funktastic (Marcus Jean Pirae) -- he's got to mispronounce for obvious trademark concerns ("Mister Fantastic" is ™ Marvel Characters) -- is a minor adversary and the lynchpin which brings Kar and No-Name together. The real deal on the other side of the coin is Struker's granddaughter, Nina (Victoria Smurfit) who leads a Human Rights Organization that is not what it seems. If we were thirteen, we may have been impressed. We're not thirteen and this first act has all the feel of "we've seen this before". Not a good way to begin a flick.

A better way is to emphasize the Three Prophecies of greater importance to the monks from whom No Name comes. These indicate that Kar is the Chosen One, destined to possess the scroll. The how and why of this movie theater projectionist's great luck isn't important enough to the film to pursue and those prophecies are mentioned twice and forgotten until film's end. Too bad. It was the only aspect of the story that piqued our interest. To its detriment, is the decision to go the human battlebot route, with all of its uninteresting consequences.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Bulletproof Monk, he would have paid . . .



amazon com link Click to buy films by Paul Hunter
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