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Bulletproof Monk

Bulletproof Monk (2003)

April. 16,2003
| Fantasy Action Comedy

A mysterious and immortal Tibetan kung fu master, who has spent the last 60 years traveling around the world protecting the ancient Scroll of the Ultimate, mentors a selfish street kid in the ancient intricacies of kung fu.


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Dave Thompson

I must, first of all, point out that this movie is very good fun and must not, in any way be taken at all seriously. I loved the concept of the story but felt that things were very much spoilt by the overblown, overcontrived action scenes. This was the case from the very first minute. As for the acting......well this turned out to be very much a case of goodies v baddies. Seann William Scott, Chow Yun-Fat and Jaime King (the good guys) all turn in sterling performances. In fact, it looks as if Seann William Scott & Chow Yun-Fat had immense fun making this film and their chemistry is there to see. As for the bad guys.......Karel Rodin, Victoria Smurfit and Marcus Jean Pirae. Well, what can I say? I felt that they were all terrible and all over the top. I was particularly disappointed with Victoria Smurfit, who I had seen many times before and knew her to be a very talented actress. I think that the problem with her character was basically because she had a very over emphasised British accent. Smurfit is Irish, so why the hell didn't they just maintain her natural accent. Worse though, was Marcus Jean Pirae as the underground gang boss. He has no excuse though. His too was an over emphasised British accent.......but actually IS English I believe. As I say, the film was great fun and it was made watchable by the fact that the good (acting) outweighed the bad (acting). It was, by no means, a complete turn off.


It is pretty hard to take a film seriously when it starts with two monks sparing on a bridge and flying around. That whole karate/flying/Chinese wire trick...really...why? But "Bulletproof monk" pulls it off well. For starters, it is the first movie with an explanation of how to walk on air. But mainly the two lead roles are likable and drive the story forward all the time.The old guy from Tibet is neither Jackie Chan, nor some martial arts guru. More like a regular guy you might want as a neighbour. The young guy is a New York pick pocket, smart kid but not falling into any easy pidgeon holes either. None of those overdone slow motion stylistic shows action movies on a budget often fall for. If our hero needs to take out ten bad guys, OK, he does some fancy stuff, but he gets on with it.Plot is the normal thing. We all have to protect some ancient scroll with the secret to ultimate power. Twist is that some Nazi has been chasing it since the second World War. Yeah, we have heard that before too. But it really doesn't matter, the take is fresh. My kids watched it straight after the Spiderwick Chronicles, same story, protecting a book from evil, but they didn't mind at all.The girl in the film is interesting too. While Star Wars fans pine and groan about Rey not getting her own doll, the female lead in this film is cool, sexy, sweet, tough, able and with a nice twist at the end does real equality sort of stuff. In all, a great cast guided by an obviously good team, makes a great job of a mediocre idea.


I stumbled with this movie back when I had 14 years old. Loved it then, still love it now. The fights are great, even if they are not so polished like other movies from then, but it actually adds up to the enjoyment of the film (wich kinda feels like one of those Chinese martial arts flicks).As for the humor and jokes, that's the thing I always enjoyed more of anything in this film. From one liners to the absurd situations our heroes (and villains) stumble, it's easy to be entertained. If you don't believe me, check out the scene of the "noodle soup instructions" or the "handshake" between kar and the monk apprentice.Simply put, it has everything: explosions, a beautiful (and talented girl in Jade), martial arts, a Mcguffin of epic proportions, Nazis as villains (wich never live it down) etc. Watch it if you want to spend some time with light fun and without convoluted themes.I don't deny it has flaws, but after all this is a movie that doesn't take itself seriously, so you shouldn't be disappointed if you wanted to find something more dark and edgy.By the way, to those of you that won't believe the sight of Nazis in Tibet, claiming it's false and bullshit, check your facts: Nazi Germany send some explorers to the área in the hopes of expending their knowledge about the arian race and phisionomy of the locals (others say that the expeditions were made to contact the people of Shammballa or other mythological folk). So, while there were Nazis in Tibet sometime in the 1930's, they withdrawn when the war kept growing and growing.Enjoy the film!

James Hitchcock

The central idea of "Bulletproof Monk", that of a gang of Nazis trying to get their hands on an artifact of great supernatural power, seems to have been lifted straight from Spielberg's "Raiders of the Lost Ark". The story opens in the year 1943 when a squad of Nazi soldiers attack a remote Tibetan monastery. (The German invasion of Tibet is an episode of Second World War history which appears to have escaped the notice of most historians). They are seeking a mystical Scroll which contains arcane knowledge which will confer immense powers upon the reader. They kill most of the monks but not the one entrusted with custody of the Scroll, who succeeds in escaping by using his martial arts skills to dodge the German bullets (hence the film's title).Fast forward to 2003. The nameless monk now reappears in an equally nameless American city. (The film was actually shot in Toronto, Canada). Although 60 years have passed, he still looks as youthful as he did in 1943, having been immunised from the ageing process by the power of the Scroll. The Scroll is being sought by a gang of fanatical neo-Nazis led by the now-aged Strucker, the officer who led the attack on the monastery, and his granddaughter Nina (who, in an ironical touch, poses as the leader of a human rights organisation). The monk, assisted by a young pickpocket named Kar and Kar's girlfriend Jade, who turns out to be the daughter of a Russian crime lord, have to thwart the evil plans of the villains.The star of the film is Chow Yun-Fat, the Hong Kong actor who also starred in "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" but the two films have little else in common. The martial arts sequences in "Bulletproof Monk" are not nearly as well choreographed or directed as those in the earlier movie, and have nothing of their surreal, haunting power. The plot is just one standard action-movie cliché after another. None of the actors stood out, except perhaps Victoria Smurfit as Nina, the sort of sexy-but-evil villainess who would be at home in a Bond film. Jaime King (formerly known as James despite being female) is the latest in a long line of models-turned-actress who look as though they would be happier as a model-turned-actress-turned-model.I must admit that I didn't have high hopes for the film when I learned that it is based on a comic book, a genre of "literature" which has been responsible for some pretty poor film adaptations, and I can say that my low hopes were fully realised. "Bulletproof Monk" is a dull, unoriginal and cliché-ridden film which reveals a depressing lack of imagination on the part of the film-makers. 3/10