Neil Young’s Film Lounge – Bulletproof Monk

Published on: March 23rd, 2004

BULLETPROOF MONK

3/10

USA 2003 : Paul HUNTER : 103 mins

Such a great title deserves a much better movie than this lame excuse for a culture-clash action-comedy, in which Crouching Tigers Chow Yun-Fat and Seann William Scott strike only slightly more spark than last months east-west odd couple, Chan and Wilson from the dire Shanghai Knights. Chow is a nameless, ancient monk entrusted with an all-powerful Tibetan scroll which he must pass on to a new chosen one. This turns out to be cocky Manhattan pickpocket Kar (Scott), who soon finds himself pursued by a Raiders of the Lost Ark-style old Nazi (Roden) desperate to nab the uber-trinket.

Its painful to see such a talented screen comic actor as Scott priceless in the American Pie pictures and Dude Wheres My Car looking such a fish out of water as he does here. Though he’s visibly bulked himself up in a strenuous attempt to crack the action genre, this material with its clunky dialogue and half-baked attempts at humour – simply doesn’t play to his strengths, and he ends up seeming like just another faceless pretty-boy from the Hollywood production line.

Even Chow looks less than comfortable not so much with the action stuff (which he can manage in his sleep) as with the shamelessly corny fortune-cookie philosophy he’s forced to spout: Rich manure can fertilise fields and feed millions, he informs a skeptical Kar at one point. Bulletproof Monk is, unfortunately, anything but rich manure – ineptly plotted, choppily edited, clumsily directed, and weighed down with woefully unconvincing FX-heavy fight sequences, Bullshit Monk would have been a more accurate, if less catchy, label.

14th April, 2003
(seen 10th April, Odeon Gate, Newcastle)

by Neil Young