review for Bulletproof Monk on AllMovie

Bulletproof Monk (2003)
by Jason Buchanan review

Chow Yun-Fat fans take note: this is not the one you've been waiting for. That said, taken as what it is (a fairly generic urban actioner that stands slightly apart from the pack due to it's mystic slant), Bulletproof Monk is still a moderately entertaining effort that will no doubt entertain the less demanding action fan. The thing that American directors seem to keep forgetting (Anna and the King director Andy Tenant aside) is that Chow can actually act -- despite the fact that he still looks really cool jumping and flipping while firing duel 9mms. Only a fraction of Chow's Hong Kong efforts were action movies (curious casual fans should seek out All About Ah-Long for a taste of his more tender side), and despite the fact that a handful of those efforts were indeed genre-defining, he simply hasn't been utilized to full effect in American cinema. Though after The Replacement Killers and The Corrupter it is nice to see Chow in a fairly good-humored role, one still gets the feeling that if his stateside performances continue in such a generic fashion that he'll never get the international attention that he truly deserves. Director Paul Hunter does an adequate job of creating his own unique visual scheme due to strong use of color, and his action directing is also fairly assured. Likewise, Seann William Scott makes for a fairly charming street thief, and his easygoing nature makes the fact that his character is essentially a good person at heart relatively believable. Supporting performances are fairly strong across the board, though it's painfully obvious (especially during the final confrontation) that many of villainous Nazi Strucker's (Karel Roden) more comic character components were sadly left on the cutting room floor given that the other humorous elements of the film are so blatant. Though those unfamiliar with Chow aren't likely to be quite as demanding of this effort (and should definitely seek out his Honk Kong actioners to see how it's really done), Bulletproof Monk is just entertaining enough to tide over hardcore Chow fans until inevitable reteaming with longtime collaborator John Woo.