In BULLETPROOF MONK, Chow Yun-Fat plays a Buddhist monk in the World War II 1940s, who is given charge over a sacred scroll that, if read aloud, gives its reader the power to run the world as the reader sees fit with extreme potential for either good or evil. Each protector must fulfill a 60-year term then find and lay hands on his successor, passing on the mystical powers that come with being the guardian. The scroll gives its protector the power to stay young and, if sick or injured, provides instantaneous healing. A National Socialist leader, played by Karel Rodin, attacks the temple where the scroll is kept and chases the monk for the next 60 years, into the present day, trying to get his hands on the scroll for his own evil purposes: he wants to stay forever young and cleanse the world of all inferior races.
While being chased down one day in the present United States by Nazi goons, the monk runs into a young pickpocket, played charmingly by Seann William Scott, and discerns the potential within him to be his successor as the scroll’s guardian. There is a three-part prophecy that is the test of anyone who might be the scroll’s next steward. The two men develop an unlikely friendship as well as a mentor relationship.
Can the monk avoid the Nazis long enough to figure out if this young man is truly the next protector? Can he train him in time before his own 60-year-term is up? Will he have to choose a different successor?
BULLETPROOF MONK is a very entertaining fantasy tale of “enlightened” goodness versus evil. The humor is clever and disarming making the suspension of disbelief easier (a spoon full of sugar makes the medicine go down). This is an excellent mixture of the Asian kung-fu (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) style film with American sensibilities.
The main caveat for families would be the not-so-subtle peppering of the film with Eastern philosophy and Buddhist mysticism. It is a soft sell. Truth is truth, so there is a clear delineation of good versus evil. Many of the sayings that the monk espouses parallel Christian thinking, but, on the other had, “god” is said to be found in all things and never considered on a personal level. The monk also teaches that, if you truly believe that gravity does not exist, then it doesn’t. Such nominalistic views are extremely dangerous. The personal relationship revealed to us in Jesus Christ, God’s Son, and His Word made flesh, is the main thing to remind any children or teenagers who may see this movie.
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(PaPaPa, B, FRFR, O, E, LL, VV, S, N, A, M) Pagan Buddhist worldview with some moral elements plus lots of Buddhist sayings, Pop-Zen, nominalist philosophy espoused by monk (if you truly believe that gravity does not exist, then it doesn't), and mystical occult empowerment imparted through laying on of hands as well as environmentalist element where vegetarian monk says something to the effect of, "to keep the body pure, don't kill any living creature for food"; about 13 obscenities and curses; violence includes torture contraption that uses electrical shock, Nazi-like troops shoot up unarmed monks (bloodless), hand to hand martial arts combat, monk shot and falls from cliff, man's genitals threatened by knife wielding bad guy, man attacked with pipe, Monk shoots weapons from enemies hands while trying fend off while killing no one, military helicopters shoot up good guys' hiding place, man is choked with phone cord - found dead later with cord around his neck, two necks and one arm and leg are broken in course of hand-to-hand fighting, man punched in stomach several times in attempt to extract information, people thrown against and through walls, man electrocuted when he falls on power lines (lots o'sparks!), man impaled by fallen statue, woman shot in chest and then returns to life; brief scene of kissing and grinding at bad guys' party (clear delineation between deeds of good, or enlightened, and the bad throughout the movie), brief and veiled sexual talk such as monk explains his understanding of sexual topics by telling boy that no one is born a monk, man and woman wrestling goes from confrontational to flirty, woman examines captive man's genitals and hints that she may get back to him later; shirtless men in non-sexual context, Women in midriffs, short skirts, low cut tops, and tight-fitting clothing, plus glimpse of tattoo on woman's abdomen due to low-rise jeans; alcohol used during party in bad guys' lair; and, pickpocket, man returns home to ransacked house, tattoos, betrayal, and racism.