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Sunday, April 20, 2003

Bullet Proof Monk


Directed by Paul Hunter
Written by Ethan Reiff & Cyrus Voris
Reviewed by Mil Peliculas

Just when you think Hollywood may have figured out how to adapt comic books once and for all, here comes Bulletproof Monk to remind you that the ball is still slippery, John Woo and Terence Chang have definitely dropped this one. Forget the “script doctor,” call the “script coroner.”

Seann William Scott plays a young thief named Kar, who crosses paths with Chow Yun-Fat as a Monk who has been guarding a sacred scroll that proposes to give whoever reads it in its entirety some sort of ultimate power. Every 60 years the scroll needs a new guardian to protect it. Fat comes to believe, through a series of prophesied events, that Kar is the next “guardian” that he will entrust with the scroll.

The baddie? A Nazi who fought with Fat over the scroll on a mountaintop monastery during WW2. He has since lost track of Fat, but he’s searching...always searching. Growing old, while the power of the scroll keeps Fat young and strong. The Nazi has become obsessed with finding the scroll, and, aided by his hottie Nazi daughter (Victoria Smurfit), is always right on the heels of Fat. These scenes make for much Matrix-inspired helicopter and high-power automatic weapon-fire chase scenes through the streets and rooftops in San Francisco, but apparently they aren’t loud enough to get much police attention.

The jokes (I think they were meant to be jokes) are anything but. And you’d think in 4 hours and 20 minutes (the perceived running time) they’d have stumbled across one or two funny lines, even by accident. Sorry. Instead we get great lines like this one after Kar tells Fat to leave his apartment, they fight for a minute, Fat knocks Kar into a chair and Kar says, “Okay, I guess I CAN’T make you leave.” Wow! That is dead-on screenwriting right there. Or how about the line, “The coast is clear, let’s go.” Again, writers working overtime. Oh, and the Nazi’s daughter keeps finding and losing Chow Yun-Fat. She tells her dad that he just needs to give her more time. And he utters this original phrase: “Time is the one thing...I’m running out of.” I can picture Ethan Reiff and Cyrus Voris, the two Wordsmiths responsible for this piece of crap, tossing dialog back and forth, high-fiving when that line dropped out.

The big action sequence of the third act finds the evil Nazi capturing Fat and hooking him up to some completely silly machines. Words from Austin Powers were zipping through my tired brain: “Begin the unnecessarily slow dipping mechanism!” And the evil Nazi is tooling around in his subterranean lair in his wheelchair wearing his Nazi uniform, hilarious. At this point, the Nazi (I’m not bothering to commit his name to memory, as soon as this review is done I must set to the task of deleting this entire movie from my mental hard drive) gets to do lots of scenery chewing and mustache twirling as he tries to obtain the scroll from Fat. Eventually, the Nazi gets to read most of the scroll, but not all of it, and it gives him some new powers, which pissed me off. I mean, did he read the whole scroll? No. So why does he get to toss people through the air like Yoda? Crap, I tells you.

There’s lots more half-assed story telling and blender-edited fight scenes that make you wonder what the hell is going on, but I don’t want to reveal too much in a review. So if you like torture, this might be for you. Me? I don’t have time for this crap. Sad thing is, I really like John Woo, the producer. Met him a couple times, hell of a nice guy. Big fan of his Hong Kong films, liked Face/Off, liked Windtalker, but like I said, I got my limits.

This underground comic should stay underground. About six feet would do nicely. I just need a little X-Men 2 to wash the taste of this one out of my mouth.