A three-part comic book miniseries released in 1999 by Image and Flypaper Press. Written by Gotham Chopra (son of Deepak Chopra) and Brett Lewis. Art done by Michael Avon Oeming.

The story centers on Kar who is very adept at martial arts but is a bit of a hot-head. He is given a pendant by his mother who tells him to head to the United States to find the legendary man who once owned it. Legend had it that this man had once assisted the village in fighting off an advancement of Nazi troops during World War II. When the battle ended victoriously for the village, this mysterious man left the pendant which had been engraved with the words "Bulletproof Monk". Hence, legend had it that this Bulletproof Monk would return to help out when Tibet was in dire straits again.

Unfortunately, Kar ends up enjoying the US too much and meets up with a small group of young Asian thugs. They battle at first with Kar gaining the upper hand but he ends up joining them in their daily routine. One of the gang members is the daughter of the local crime lord, Boss Wei. Kar takes a liking to her and soon finds himself in a mess involving Asian-American gangs, a Chinese government assassin, and, of course, Bulletproof Monk.

A movie is being made of the miniseries with Chow Yun Fat set to star as the monk in question. The film is being produced by John Woo and Terence Chang and is aimed for a 2002 release.

Title: Bulletproof Monk
Director: Paul Hunter
Writer: Ethan Reiff / Cyrus Voris
Release Date: 18th April 2003 (UK)
Runtime: 104

Chow Yun-Fat - The Monk with no name
Seann William Scott - Kar
Jaime King - Jade / Bad Girl
Karel Roden - Strucker
Victoria Smurfit - Nina

The film starts in 1943, during the second world war. Chow Yun Fat plays the eponymous hero (forthwith referred to as the monk), a Tibetan monk entrusted with the protection of a scroll that holds the power of eternal youth and control of the world. The protector of the scroll is chosen by performing three phrophecies and gains some pretty nifty powers including no aging for 60 years and becoming seemingly bulletproof. Much like in Indiana Jones and the Lost Ark, the Nazis are after this mystical artifact and Strucker, the head of the division, shoots the monk in an attempt to get it, who falls off a cliff with the scroll.

Flash forward 60 years to modern day San Francisco. The monk has been pursued his whole life and is beginning to look for a new protector of the scroll - he happens upon Kar, a street thief who lives in the Golden Palace, a Chinese cinema owned by an old Japanese man. The two help a young girl escape from an oncoming underground train, and the monk sees something in Kar and decides after a while that Kar may be destined to become the next protector of the scroll. After a few scrapes the two team up with Jade, a street girl (and by that I don't mean prostitute) and save the scroll from the hands of Nina, a strange woman who is head of a Human Rights organization (sorry about the vagueness of all this, but I'm trying not to include any spoilers).

Starring Chow Yun-Fat and with John Woo as executive producer, you might legitimately expect Bulletroof Monk to include a lot of fight scenes and wire work. If so, you will probably not be disappointed. If, on the other hand, you're looking for an engrossing, believable story and terrific acting, you should probably look elsewhere. Chow Yun-Fat, while a very capable actor, just doesn't sound comfortable speaking English - this is the first time I've heard him speak outside his native tongue (actually, as a side note, neither he nor Michelle Yeoh spoke Mandarin before Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and apparently both have atrocious accents in that movie) and it just didn't work for me. Seann William Scott is merely OK (this is a step up for him) and Victoria Smurfit overplays her part quite atrociously at times. Best not to mention the side character called Mista Funktastic.

Having said this, the wire work is reasonably well done and even Seann William Scott is quite good in the fight scenes. The movie is certainly enjoyable in a 'don't engage your brain' type way and Jaime King is undeniable eye candy. Just don't see it for the plot which makes little or no sense (there's a bit with water in pipes that seems important, but it wasn't clear what was going on).

Brilliant title though.

the Tibetan imdb.com

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