Bulletproof Monk (2003)

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Released 7-Oct-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Main Menu Audio
Audio Commentary-Paul Hunter (Director), Charles & Douglas Segal (Producers)
Featurette-5 - The Tao Of Monk
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-The Monk Unrobed
Deleted Scenes-5
Alternate Ending
Theatrical Trailer
Gallery-Photo-Behind The Scenes
Trailer-I Spy, Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, Men In Black 2
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 99:35
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Paul Hunter
Studio
Distributor

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Chow Yun-Fat
Seann William Scott
Jaime King
Karel Roden
Victoria Smurfit
Marcus Jean Pirae
Mako
Roger Yuan
Case ?
RPI $39.95 Music Eric Serra


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Bulletproof Monk is another movie that started life as a comic book. That's not to say that this movie is faithful to the comic — the producers admit that about the only thing they insisted on retaining was the name (they did keep a few more parts...).

    When I saw the advertising campaign for this movie, one image really stuck in my mind: Chow Yun Fat standing on top of a car, with a 9mm automatic in each hand. That rang true with many of his other (John Woo) films, including The Replacement Killers (one of my favourites). Cool, I thought. Well, that image was included in the advertising precisely to have that effect. It is, I think, the only moment in the film when Chow Yun Fat is seen holding a gun. This is not a gun-play action movie; it's much more of a martial arts action movie.

    The film opens in Tibet in 1943, as a monk (Chow Yun Fat) gives up his name and assumes the responsibility of guarding the Scroll of the Ultimate. There's some necessary exposition during this transfer of responsibility; we learn that reading the scroll aloud grants ultimate power to the reader. We also learn that the monk guarding the scroll has that task for 60 years, during which time the scroll protects him, and he must find his successor by looking for someone who fulfils the three prophecies. Just as Chow Yun Fat takes the responsibility, a group of Nazis appear (remember that this part is set in 1943) and attempt to take possession of the scroll. They fail, and only one of them survives (Karel Roden). Slam cut to 2003 (yup, 60 years later...) and we meet a slick pickpocket (Seann William Scott) calling himself Kar, who is on the run from the cops. The monk is also on the run, from a bunch of nasties in suits. As they run past one another in a subway station, a young girl gets knocked onto the rails. Her foot is stuck, and our two heroes have to work fast to save her before she's turned into a statistic.

    There are an interesting variety of combatants in this film, including the beautiful Bad Girl (Jaime King, who gets to wear some really cool outfits, most especially her final one), the blonde b**** Nina (Victoria Smurfit), and the sadly-named Mr Funktastic (Marcus Jean Pirae) — his part was rather larger in the original cut of the film, judging by the deleted scenes.

    Some background colour is provided for Kar's life by Mr Kojima, played by Mako. He's quite a character. Mako is rather an experienced actor, considering that we saw him in The Sand Pebbles, made in 1966 (OK, it's not 60 years ago, but it's a heck of a long time). The director mentions that they got praised for casting a Japanese actor to play a Japanese role, and Chinese actors to play Chinese roles.

    This is a martial arts film, and there's plenty of wire-work. This is also a mentor / protιgι film, a mystical fantasy film, and, most importantly, a comedy, although not a Jackie Chan type of comedy — the comedy is quite separate from the action. I expected Seann William Scott to be the focus of most of the comedy, and Chow Yun Fat the focus of the martial arts and mysticism. That's not a complete picture of how it works out. Chow Yun Fat shows something of a gift for comedy, while Seann William Scott shows more talent for the martial arts than I expected.

    They pay homage to a number of films. The homage to Raiders of the Lost Ark is probably the most obvious, but this film is no copy.

    If you like martial arts action, and comedy, then you might enjoy this film. If you loved Raiders of the Lost Ark, then you might really enjoy this film. Definitely recommended.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This DVD transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1. It is 16x9 enhanced. That's the right aspect ratio.

    The image is beautifully clear, and rather sharp. Shadow detail is excellent. There is no film grain and no low-level noise.

    Colour has been carefully managed by the filmmakers (it's discussed in a number of the extras) — their efforts have been superbly rendered in this transfer. There are no colour-related artefacts.

    There are next to no film artefacts, as you would hope for a movie released this year. There's very little aliasing, no obvious moirι and there are no MPEG artefacts.

    There are no subtitle tracks. There are subtitles (in English) burned into the image for the lines spoken in Tibetan.

    The disc is single-sided and dual layered; there is no layer change during the movie because the entire movie is located on the second layer of the disc. The extras fill the first layer.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The soundtrack is provided in English Dolby Digital 5.1 — it's an excellent example of surround sound, but it seems to be recorded a bit too loud. I had to turn it down at least 5dB to make it comfortable.

    The English dialogue is clear and comprehensible. The fragments of Tibetan sound clear enough, but I cannot assess their comprehensibility.

    The score is special, and excellently tailored to the film. Eric Serra is proud of it, and he should be.

    There is plenty of directional sound; this is a truly enveloping soundtrack. The subwoofer gets plenty to do, too.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

    The menu is static with music.

Commentary: director and producers

    This commentary isn't to be found on the Special Features menu — look in the Audio menu. It features director Paul Hunter (this is his first film — he has been directing commercials), and producers Charles Rovan and Douglas Segal. It is not a bad commentary — they have a lot to tell us and they don't repeat themselves or get boring. There are a few short pauses, but they start talking over the opening logos and don't stop until part way through the credits.

Featurettes: The Tao of the Monk

    Five featurettes which you can play individually, or all at once. They are not time-coded, so I can't give exact times

Featurette: The Monk Unrobed

    Talking about the comic book origins of The Bulletproof Monk. Runs about 6 minutes.

Deleted Scenes

    These are longer scenes than usual — they show the original ending and a whole plot thread that was removed from the finished film. I'm glad these are gone — their absence really helps. They aren't time-coded, so I can't give exact lengths.

Theatrical Trailer (1:39)

    Rather a good trailer — I can see why I was keen to see this film.

Gallery — Photo

    Nineteen behind-the-scenes photographs.

Trailers

    Before the menu appears we are exposed to trailers for:

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 release of this movie is scheduled for September — I haven't seen a review of it, but as far as I can see, it is unlikely to be any better than this disc.

Summary

    An entertaining martial arts / comedy / action film presented well on DVD.

    The video quality is quite good.

    The audio quality is excellent.

    The extras are interesting.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Sunday, August 24, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

Other Reviews
DVD Net - Jules F

Comments (Add)
Surprisingly good, give it a try! - gRANT (Read my bio, mmm... uncompressed surround audio)