Bulletproof Monk

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Bulletproof Monk
Theatrical poster
Directed by Paul Hunter
Produced by Charles Roven
Terence Chang
John Woo
Douglas Segal
Written by Ethan Reiff
Cyrus Voris
Starring Chow Yun-fat
Seann William Scott
Jaime King
Music by Eric Serra
Cinematography Stefan Czapsky
Editing by Robert K. Lambert
Studio Lakeshore Entertainment
Mosaic Media Group
Lion Rock Productions
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer(USA)
Pathé (UK)
Release dates April 16, 2003 (2003-04-16)
Running time 104 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $52 million[1]
Box office $37,713,879[1]

Bulletproof Monk is a 2003 action - comedy film starring Chow Yun-fat, Seann William Scott and Jaime King. The film was directed by Paul Hunter, in his feature film directorial debut. It is loosely based on the comic book by Michael Avon Oeming. The film was shot in Toronto and Hamilton, Canada, and other locations that look closely like New York City.


The storyline opens in Tibet in 1943, wherein one of its protagonists, a Tibetan monk, is informed that he has fulfilled the prophecies made of him - he has fought an army of enemies while a flock of cranes circled above; fought for love at the palace of Jade; saved brothers whom he did not know from a family he never had; and forsaken his name. He is then entrusted by his master with the protection of a Scroll which contains knowledge by which the reader becomes the most powerful of living things - a protection that will keep him youthful and immunize him to injury until, at the close of 60 years, he must pass the knowledge to an heir. The master, who has formerly been the guardian of this Scroll, is killed by German soldiers shortly after the transfer. His pupil, the now nameless Monk, escapes despite the Nazi commander's expectations.

60 years later, a young pickpocket named Kar (Seann William Scott) robs a police officer in a subway station. He is arrested, but frees himself and chains the police officer, only to flee some of the latter's colleagues. Above in the street, the Nameless Monk is reading a newspaper when he notices several men attempting to capture him. The Nameless Monk attempts to escape by running into the subway, whereupon he and Kar collide, causing a young girl to fall into the path of an oncoming train. Kar and the Nameless Monk rescue the girl, whereupon the three escape, leaving Kar's bag of stolen goods in the station.

Having escaped, the Nameless Monk and Kar introduce themselves to each other, whereupon Kar steals the Scroll from the Nameless Monk and runs away. Thereafter, wherever Kar goes he is chased by the Nameless Monk, who suspects that Kar may be a suitable successor as guardian of the Scroll. When fighting underground against a minor crime lord called Mister Funktastic (Marcus Jean Pirae), Kar meets a young woman named Jade, whom he falls in love with. The Nameless Monk then follows Kar home and watches him at home practicing Kung-fu by watching Chinese martial arts movies. The next day, Jade meets with Nina at the opening of the exhibit by the Human Rights Organization - Conscience of Humanity. Later, the Monk and Kar meet again during the next day and are conversing when Jade walks up to them and asks Kar to return her necklace, which he had apparently stolen on purpose in order to return to Jade so as to earn her esteem. She is interrupted by a group of mercenaries whose quarry is the Nameless Monk - their intended target flees with Kar in his company.

The Nameless Monk and Kar escape by hiding beneath an Asian laundromat, wherein are several monks of the lead character's order. The Nameless Monk then takes refuge in a nearby building where he shows Kar several advanced combat techniques, including a demonstration of the art of dodging bullets. They are attacked and the Scroll is taken to the employer of the mercenary forces - a crime lord named Strucker. It is revealed that Strucker is in fact the Nazi commander who fought with the Nameless Monk (and had his predecessor murdered) 60 years ago in Tibet. Strucker desires to use the power of the Scroll as a means of rejuvenating his health and achieving world domination by destroying inferior peoples. Upon reading the Scroll, Strucker finds that it contains a recipe for noodle soup, whereas it is later revealed that the true secret of power is tattooed on the Nameless Monk's torso. The Nameless Monk and Kar return home to find that Kar's employer, Mr. Kojima, has been murdered by Strucker's granddaughter, who happens to be Nina. They flee to the Asian laundromat but are betrayed by an ambitious monk who desires the power conferred by the scroll - however, all parties are taken to Strucker's center of operation and tortured.

The Nameless Monk and Kar seek the help of Jade, whom they learn is the daughter of a currently imprisoned Russian crime lord. Their meeting is interrupted by Nina, who has Jade and Kar beaten and the Nameless Monk captured. Later, Jade and Kar infiltrate Strucker's headquarters, where they are separated as Strucker prepares to scan the Nameless Monk's brain. Jade fights Nina and defeats her, and Kar finds the Nameless Monk. By now, Strucker has regained his youth by reading the text of the Scroll, but he is unable to obtain the content of the last line, which is written nowhere and present only in the Nameless Monk's memory. Strucker attempts to scan the Nameless Monk's brain, but is prevented by Kar himself. The fight ensues, which takes to the roof of the building. In the end, Strucker is thrown onto electric cables; however, Strucker is preserved from death by the power conferred to him by his use of the Scroll.

While Jade frees the other monks, the Nameless Monk transfers what is revealed to be only part of the Scroll's content, and the task of protecting it for 60 years, to Kar. When Strucker attempts to kill Kar, but is killed himself, it is revealed that Jade has also received a part of the Scroll and shares with him the task of protecting it and all the effects thereof. The Nameless Monk then tells them that they both passed the three prophecies (Kar battled enemies beneath circling cranes while Jade fought Kar while surrounded, both 'fought for love at the palace of jade', Jade was the one who had saved brothers she never knew while Kar saved the nameless monk) and the final test. The next day, the now aged Nameless Monk meets Kar and Jade, to whom he reveals the final line of the Scroll and whom he now deems inseparable. He then departs, lighthearted.



Critical reception [edit]

Bulletproof Monk received generally poor reviews; David Edelstein of Slate contended that Bulletproof Monk was "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon for the American Pie audience"; panning its poor special effects and cinematography (the former he compared to an "afternoon Japanese kiddie series"), and concluded that "they made a ton of junky movies in Hong Kong, but those were dazzlingly fluid and high-flying junky movies. This American retread has the same sort of hack plot but none of the bravura. It makes them look like monkeys, and not bulletproof ones."[2] Bill Stamets of the Chicago Reader panned Bulletproof Monk for having "routine" fight scenes and juvenile humor, and that "the film plays off Chow's imperturbable persona, but the Tibetan philosophy boils down to the paradox of hot dogs coming ten to a package while buns are sold in sets of eight."[3]

On Rotten Tomatoes, Bulletproof Monk has an aggregate score of 23% based on 131 reviews

Box Office[edit]

The movie grossed approximately $23 million in the United States, with a worldwide total of $37 million, less than the production budget of $52 million.[1]


  1. ^ a b c "Bulletproof Monk (2003)". Box Office Mojo. Amazon. Retrieved 2010-06-01. 
  2. ^ "Slouching tiger: Bulletproof Monk is American Pie for the kung-fu set". Slate. Retrieved 5 April 2014. 
  3. ^ "Bulletproof Monk". Chicago Reader. Retrieved 5 April 2014. 

External links[edit]