[box cover]

Bulletproof Monk

In some cineastes' vocabularies, the adjective "Canadian" doesn't mean Egoyan or Cronenberg — it means the movie looks like it was shot in Toronto. Hollywood productions often shoot in the Great White North due to Canada's lowered exchange rate, which has created a certain cheap production sensibility in recent years. It's definitely a complaint that can be leveled at Paul Hunter's comic-book adapted Bulletproof Monk (2003), which simply oozes skimp. Chow Yun-fat stars as the unnamed "bulletproof monk," who's been assigned to protect scrolls that his monastery has been creating for centuries. But after tussling with Nazis during World War II, the monk emigrated to America (er, Canada?) to find a successor. He sees something in Kar (Seann Williams Scott), a street punk who learned kung fu from studying grind-house chop-socky flicks. Kar also runs into bad-girl Jade (Jaime King), who seems to have a good side even though she's dating the underground thief Mr. Funktastic (Marcus Pirae). But before Jade and Kar can get closer, or the monk can finish training Kar in his ancient ways, the old Nazi (Karel Rodan) who tried killing the monk in 1944 still wants the scroll, and now he has the help of ice queen Nina (Victoria Smurfit), which means the trio must work together to keep the swastikas at bay. Bulletproof Monk is the sort of film — like Big Trouble in Little China (1986) — that tries to be smart in its dumbness, and it hits as much as it misses. But it's also the sort of picture where, if you can go with Seann William "Stifler" Scott using kung fu successfully against Nazis (Nazis? Why did it have to be Nazis?), then you may be able to glean some pleasure from this thoroughly mediocre production. Chow Yun-Fat is charming in a film that is well beneath his talents, while those who have a tolerance for Scott will enjoy him here. The biggest albatross around the movie's neck is model-(who-tried)-turn(ing-into-an-)actress(-but-didn't-quite-make-it) King, who is so bad that it looks like her lines were dubbed — much of her dialogue is heard while she's off-screen. Still, for Saturday matinee/low expectation viewings, you might find it acceptable. If not, blame Canada. MGM presents Bulletproof Monk in anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) in Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. A full-blown special edition, the disc comes with two audio commentaries (the first with director Hunter and producers Charles Roven and Douglas Segal, the second with screenwriters Ethan Reill and Cyrus Voris); "The Tao of Monk" a 55-minute documentary broken into five sections; "The Monk Unrobed," a featurette on comic books; five deleted scenes and an alternated ending with optional editor commentary; a photo gallery; and trailers for this and other MGM DVDs. Keep-case .
—DSH



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