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Bulletproof Monk (12A)



Review by: Jack Foley | Rating: Two

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Audio commentary with director Paul Hunter and producers Charles Roven and Douglas Segal; Featurette 'The Tao of Monk'; Featurette 'The Monk Unrobed'; Behind the scenes; Photo gallery (50 stills); Deleted scenes; Theatrical trailer.

FROM its absurd name alone, audiences should be aware that Bulletproof Monk is not a film to be taken seriously.

Hong Kong martial arts maestro, Chow Yun-Fat, stars as The Monk in question, a Zen-calm master charged with protecting a powerful ancient scroll which holds the key to unlimited power.

As his 60-year duty nears its end, he travels to America in search of the scroll’s next custodian, a seemingly unsuitable street hustler and thief, named Kar (American Pie’s Seann William Scott), whom he must train in the ways of a protector, while evading the evil minions of a relentless power-monger who has also been chasing the scroll for 60 years.

So far, so completely ridiculous. But then, the 12 certificate should provide a useful indication of the film’s target audience, as prepubescent teenagers will no doubt lap up its dubious charms.

Derived from the Flypaper press comic book, the film has long been intended as a vehicle for Yun-Fat and, to be fair, he is the best thing about it, developing a strong rapport with Scott’s wise-cracking protégé and playing off the tough guy image he has become renowned for with relish.

Yet he is frequently ill-served by those around him, from Karel Roden’s hopelessly ill-judged villain, Struker, to Paul Hunter’s lacklustre direction.

Hence, scenes involving Roden’s ‘master-race’ obsessed Nazi border on the cringe-worthy, while Hunter’s direction seems content to rip off far superior action sequences; with The Matrix, in particular, once more providing rich pickings.

A chase and fight sequence halfway through the movie, especially, feels lifted from The Wachowski brothers’ movie, while the over-use of wire-work, coupled with some poor special effects and half-baked editing, make the fights appear manufactured and totally unbelievable.

But then, given that it is aimed at such a young audience, those that see it will probably be having too much fun to notice, as it expertly plays up to every boyhood fantasy imaginable - from Jaime King’s shapely heroine to the notion of being able to learn martial arts skills solely by studying movies.

A mixed bag, then, but one which should appeal to the adolescent in most men.

 

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