"To think, we suffered a two year gap with no Chow Yun-Fat movies (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was the previous one) only to have this dog pile sprung on us. It's like skipping one Christmas and then getting nothing but socks the next."
Bulletproof Monk (2003)
Director: Paul Hunter
Producer: John Woo, Terence Chang (aren't these guys supposed to be Chow Yun-Fat's FRIENDS?!?), Charles Roven
Writer: Ethan Reiff, Cyrus Voris
Cast: Chow Yun-Fat, Seann William Scott, Jaime King, Karel Roden, Victoria Smurfit
Running Time: 104 min.
Plot: Chow Yun-Fat is the mystical protector of a scroll that grants the reader the power to alter reality as they see fit. Seann William Scott is the pickpocket who, according to numerous omens, is destined to take Chow Yun-Fat's place. I've got a better idea for a movie. How about Chow Yun-Fat gets two magic handguns that never run out of bullets and shoots Paul Hunter with them for an hour and a half? I'd pay eight bucks to see that.
NUMSKULL'S REVIEW: Lest anyone take certain comments below out of context: the date of this writing is April 18th, 2003.
I weep for the future. Many of us are crestfallen at the current state of Hong Kong cinema, what with the endless rehashes of one story and the proliferation of pretty-face, no-talent pop stars pretending to be thespians, but after seeing Cradle 2 the Grave and, more recently, Bulletproof Monk, I would say that the Hollywood/Hong Kong crossover industry is in even greater peril. To think, we suffered a two year gap with no Chow Yun-Fat movies (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was the previous one) only to have this dog pile sprung on us. It's like skipping one Christmas and then getting nothing but socks the next.
I have not read the comic book upon which this film is based, so I can't comment on its faithfulness to the source material. I suppose I should have known better than to hope for a non-sucky, comic-based movie. (One-sentence tangent: I will never forgive Rafael Yglesias, Terry Hayes and the Hughes brothers for their wretched "adaptation"...it barely qualifies as such...of the Alan Moore/Eddie Campbell masterwork, From Hell.) Chow Yun-Fat ("Monk With No Name") has been avoiding a Nazi survivalist for 60 years, keeping the contents of a mystic scroll out of the wrong hands. Watching him give sagely advice and martial arts training to "chosen one" Seann William Scott ("Kar"), who learned what he already knows about fighting by watching kung fu movies in the movie theater where he lives and works, is so NOT entertaining that I can scarcely describe it, and the only action scene not COMPLETELY ruined (meaning, it's only PARTIALLY ruined) by hyperactive editing and excessive special effects is the fight between Jade, the oh-so-mysterious, ass-kicking female, and Nina, the blonde Nazi bitch. Many post-Matrix movies have been criticized for imitating the 1999 blockbuster, and Bulletproof Monk will be, too...VERY DESERVEDLY. Normally, I'm not one to throw around the term "rip off" too lightly, but nobody with an I.Q. higher than 16 could possibly deny that Bulletproof Monk takes a few pointers from the Wachowski brothers' breakthrough film. Just look at that slow-motion bullet shit. I hope somebody gets sued. The movie is accompanied by a noisy rock soundtrack which, while being infinitely preferable to the rap that Hollywood always wants to associate with films of this type, is a significant source of annoyance.
There's a little plot device running through the movie where Kar tries to figure out the Monk's riddle: Why do hot dogs come in packages of ten while hot dog rolls come in packages of eight? The answer, of course, is "so you have to buy four packages of hot dogs and five packages of rolls to make it come out even", but that's not the one the movie comes up with. The question that kept sticking in MY mind throughout the movie was: "How the fuck long do we have to wait for John Woo to direct Chow Yun-Fat again?"
Well...it's not as bad as Chow's Hollywood debut, the abominable The Replacement Killers, but it's still terrible. It's presented as an action movie, but there's not much action, and what's there is crap. Next?
NUMSKULL'S RATING: 2/10