Action Wednesday: Bulletproof Monk
Bulletproof Monk is a 2003 action comedy starring Chow Yun-Fat and Seann William Scott. It tells the story of a Tibetan monk who starts mentoring a street kid, who he sees as a potential successor of his to protect an ancient scroll. On paper this seems like it could be a good martial arts comedy film, so how did it turn out?
First let me say that the story had potential. Going into this I expected a nice mix of martial arts action and comedy, but the story is a little uneven. It couldn't balance out action scenes with comedy very well, and leaves you with such a jarring feeling. I got the feeling that this was originally intended to be a more serious film, but it was decided the film wouldn't be a success that way, so they threw in the comedy bits long into development and it just doesn't work at all.
The acting in all honesty wasn't bad. Chow Yun-Fat was as charismatic as ever and was able to make the most serious and funny lines seem natural and not forced. Seann William Scott was decent as the wisecracking street kid named Kar. While the character arc for his character was predictable, his acting showed the flow of the character in a way that was decently paced and well laid out. All in all the acting was good, and Seann wasn't annoying, as I usually find him in films.
Now if the comedy in the film wasn't outstanding, you would at least expect the action to be good, right? For the most part it was. The fight scenes were good, and the only thing that turned me off about the action scenes was the bad CGI work which sticks out like a sore thumb. Some of the scenes are just pure fighting, but occasionally there are flips and other stunts assisted by the CGI which just looks horrible, even for 2003. Aside from that issue, which pops up a bit, the action and fight scenes were good.
My biggest complaint with the film is how it just wasn't able to mix the action and jokes well enough to not feel forced. It felt more like here's an action scene, then with all the surprise of getting hit in the head with a rock, you get thrown into a comedy scene. There are plenty of other Martial arts comedy films that were able to pull off this blend much better than this film. Over all though, despite all of its flaws, this was a good action film with some decent comedy mixed in. Not great, but also not horrible Bulletproof Monk is a passable attempt to make this type of film work.
Verdict : Watchable if you like martial arts action comedies, otherwise skip it.