Bulletproof Monk (2003) - USA
As part of Film Critics ongoing series - Analysing Chow Yun Fat in Hollywood
Reviewed by Andrew Chan (Film Critics Circle of Australia)
Chow Yun Fat’s Hollywood follow up of the box office hit “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon” took a couple of long years with the well meaning yet mindless entertainment action comedy in music video turned director Paul Hunter’s “Bulletproof Monk”. The odd pairing of Chow with “American Pie” Seann William Scott, provides the film one of its many corny laughters as Scott tries hard to impress as a martial artist. The real problem of the film lies in the paper thin script that will not even stand a single layer of thought.
Chow Yun Fat headlines the film as the “Monk with no name” and ends up taking a cliche role of a Tibetan monk with a modern twist. That being said, it’s unfortunate the Monk is devoid of any love interest and any insight into his life for the past 60 years, except for the fact that he survived and escaped constantly from a gang of Nazi trying to steal the all important scroll. This is easily one of Chow’s lesser roles in Hollywood. Seann William Scott ditches his fart boy antics from “American Pie” to play a pickpocket with a kind soul. Scott convinces in more physically demanding sequences, but fails when required to be dramatic. His chemistry with love interest Jaime King appears forced. King does well as the heroine and more than hold her own in the trio.
All in all, despite all it’s obvious flaws, “Bulletproof Monk” is really an inconsequential film that fails to elevate Chow’s fledging Hollywood career. It’s clear that the system failed to propel Chow to greater heights, given the commercial and critical international success of “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon”. It’s a shame as the roles to follow for Chow in Hollywood remains limited or worse. Still, some minor fun can be had as Chow is always charismatic and the odd ball pairing with Scott isn’t entirely bad either.
I rated it 5/10