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Didn't Dodge the Bullet 

'Bulletproof Monk' gets hit with an unoriginal script, bad one-liners and poor acting.

Poor Chow Yun-Fat. Considering the mammoth size of his fame overseas, having been the star of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and some of the more famous John Woo films, it would seem that he would be able to make at least one decent American film.

His latest, Bulletproof Monk, provides only a modest improvement over the likes of Anna and the King and The Corruptor. In other words, Yun-Fat is still looking for his first good American-made movie.

After some monks get ambushed by an evil Nazi trying to steal a powerful scroll, one particularly brazen monk (Yun-Fat) is given the task of guarding the scroll for the next 60 years. The negative side of this is that the monk with no name must spend decades running away from evil Nazis, and evil Nazis can be such a deterrent to a happy life. The positive is that he will not age, staying youthful and spry in a very Highlander sort of way.

Monk with No Name picks a modern day successor in Kar (Seann William Scott), a punk pickpocket who has honed some extensive fighting skills watching martial arts films at the theater where he works and lives. The evil Nazi, now confined to a wheelchair and bad aging makeup, continues his relentless pursuit, as one would expect an evil Nazi to do. The Monk and Kar become a martial arts dynamic duo, kicking Nazi ass and exchanging stupid one-liners

Scott, who plays Stifler in the American Pie films, crosses over to action films with a relative degree of success. He's gotten himself into good shape and seems credible enough in fighting mode. Unfortunately, he can't escape the shadow of Stifler this time out. The writers even throw in a joke where he inadvertently gets his hand covered in urine, a gag Scott should be right at home with after drinking that semen beer and enduring a golden shower in the Pie films.

The movies that get ripped off in Bulletproof Monk are plentiful and obvious. The flying fight scenes owe plenty to the likes of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Iron Monkey, the differentiating factor being that those were actually good movies, while this one is crap. When Stifler's, I mean Scott's, character has his big "realization" near the film's end, resulting in a superhuman ability to kick villainous butt, it's a direct pilfering of that cool moment in The Matrix where Keanu Reeves realizes he's the Messiah and starts killing everybody. Cinematic thievery!

Outshining everyone is former supermodel Jamie King as Jade, an ass-kicking bad girl with a spotty past and killer roundhouse. She's fun to watch, even if her line delivery is a bit leaden at times. King actually has good chemistry with Scott, with Yun-Fat sort of acting like a big martial arts party pooper. God, he's just not good in American movies. The parts he plays make him look like a big doofus. Will somebody please figure out how to properly utilize this man in American entertainment?

The movie is based upon a "very underground" comic book series. Judging by how much Bulletproof Monk blows, it comes as no surprise that next to nobody has heard about the comic, which will probably remain underground.

While Scott will be returning to the role of Stifler for American Pie 3, where he'll probably do something along the lines of eating a poop cupcake, Yun-Fat is rumored to be working with John Woo for his next American movie. This is promising, for Woo is the man who created Yun-Fat's The Killer and Hard Boiled. Let us hope that a Woo collaboration makes for better ass kicking and fewer urine jokes.

Bulletproof Monk
Rated NR

More by Bob Grimm

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