In 1943, a Tibetan monk with no name, played by Chow Yun-Fat, has just been given the duty to protect an ancient scroll, called the Scroll of the Ultimate, from his mentor. Of course people go after the scroll and we are suddenly shot up to present day. As they continue to close in on him, Monk With No Name has a chance encounter with Kar (Seann William Scott), a pickpocket with a good heart whom he suspects may have what it takes to be his successor. Add in a love interest for Kar, in the form of a dangerous Russian mobster’s daughter, and you can pretty much write the rest of the movie yourself.
Were the rest of Bulletproof Monk either amusing, exciting, or even unintentionally bad, one might have been able to overlook its severely flawed narrative. But no, the premise is utterly preposterous, lets get that out of the way. What I will say is that Chow Yun Fat is a superb actor who never fails to give his best to any type of role he undertakes. He often overcomes any flaws in the script itself, and I feel that is what he did here. He has played many different types of characters and never repeats himself. He’s sly, even sardonic, and though he’s a spiritual soul his faith isn’t heavy-handed. Seann William Scott has a goofy charm and at least holds his own as Kar. Together the two have the easy chemistry, which was actually quite relieving.
The action in Bulletproof Monk is fun to watch. Some of the moves are performed in the good ol’ kung fu movie vein using wires and a little slo-mo, but they only add to the fun. Then, that’s part of Bulletproof Monk’s problem; it’s too silly to take seriously yet too serious to pass completely off as a farce. The real shame is simply that Yun-Fat, an engaging and admittedly skilled actor can’t get a better movie than this. He strides through this thing with quiet dignity, bringing pride to a film where there really should be none.
So, maybe I’ve just been in a good mood lately, but I know how bad this movie review sounds. This film’s historical accuracy is grossly questionable, and a good portion of the acting is overdone. So why in the world did it get a passing grade from me? I have to come clean, this is a guilty pleasure. I’m fully aware it’s not a good movie, in fact I’m probably out of my mind for enjoying it this much, but I thought it was fun! There’s no explaining why Scott was selected to be repositioned and remuscled into an action hero. But, I’m not going to sit around and try and figure that out. It’s clearly not meant to be a very serious movie so if you can get beyond that, you might be able to find some merit in it.