BOMI went to see Bulletproof Monk(BPM) for two reasons.

One, I was looking for fresh metaphors and fresh language for one of my pet topics, mentoring.

Second, I have always had a soft spot for Chow Yuen Fatt, ever since my mother pointed out that we look alike, and are of the same age. (In fact I have been trying to convince folks that Chow and I were twins who were separated at birth but somehow this rumour has never taken off.)

The movie stank. The only good thing I got out of it was a picture of what I would probably look like at 70 without botox. The closing scenes had Yuen Fatt playing an old man.

There are three things that make a movie work for me: a. It must entertain. b. It must deal with real human issues with respect. c. It must energize me to be a better person. BPM failed on all three counts.

Which is a shame because the movie had promise. Themes that could have been investigated in depth include: *The spiritual fatigue of carrying a responsibility for 60 years. *The harmony of yin and yang reflected in a male- female partnership. *The risk of trusting a protege. *The grief of losing an old friend.

None of the above themes were treated seriously. Instead we get fortune-cookie aphorisms like: “water that is too pure does not have fish”. Sheeesh!

And as much as I like Chow Yuen Fatt, it was extremely jarring to see him go through the movie with the same silly grin, speaking english like someone from Hong Kong who picked it up late in life. He is capable of so much better. (Ditto John Woo, the director.) Chow should go back to Hong Kong and look for chinese scripts with roles suitable for someone at his stage of life.

I left the movie theatre feeling cheated. I remembered how different it was leaving the theatre after seeing the Matrix. Then I felt energized, wanting to give myself afresh to a cause that counted.

Granted, Matrix was a very violent movie. And the movie shanghaied Christian and buddhist motifs for its post modern meta-narrative. But it was powerful entertainment and it did pose a question that should resonate with Christians — how many of us live imprisoned in a world of illusion, utterly oblivious of the truth. BPM does not treat any metaphysical question seriously.

There is a part in BPM where we learn that the character played by Seann William Scott had learned his kung fu by watching old kung fu movies. That his kung fu was bogus is soon uncovered by the Yuen Fatt character. Sean’s kung Fu was twice removed from the real thing and it sucked.

Which could very well be a description of BPM. The movie is based on a comic book character. Apparently the comic series has a cult following. Most of us have no access to that comic book. We only have access to the movie and it has definitely lost something in the move from comic book to movie screen.

A pastor friend of mine has started a movie club in his church. At present it only involves his church members though he plans to include nonbelievers in the long run. The members of the club watch selected movies together and then discuss the aesthetics and the worldviews of the movies. I applaud his initiative.

We have come a long way from the days that movie watching was considered sinful and unsuitable for Christians. Most folks watch movies these days, either at home on DVD, or on the big screen. It is a pervasive and powerful medium with an impact quite different from television.

The church ought to be aware of what is going on in the world of celluloid and be able to make judgement calls on the aesthetics, morality, and world views portrayed there.

Movies are also one of the easiest common grounds to start conversations with non-Christians on issues of faith and spirit. I fully support what my pastor friend has done. And will continue to go to the movies myself.

As for BPM? Two thumbs down I’m afraid! Bring on Matrix:Reloaded!

Your brother, SooInn Tan