“Bulletproof Monk” is due in theaters in just a few weeks. The
movie, based on the Flypaper Press graphic novel of the same name stars Chow Yun-Fat,
a martial arts master who must team up with a street-wise punk (Seann William
Scott) to protect an ancient scroll.
MGM Studios has provided CBR readers with this Q & A session with Yun-Fat
about the movie.
Q: Do you enjoy the physical part of this role?
Chow Yun-Fat: Not really, but when you have the wire on and they fly
you in the air, it can be a lot of fun. It depends on the difficulty of the wire
work. For me, I’m not fascinated about all the wire works or martial art things,
I’m more dedicated to the drama and the romance. I’d rather have a girl than a
wire or two guns, but I’m glad that we have a lot of young actors in this movie.
They give the movie a lot of energy and also a lot of inspiration for the new
generation. I am already a veteran in this industry, more than 30 years, so more
or less we need some new faces. They taught me a lot about how to be a young
actor. I’m still young in Hollywood, you know.
Q: What kind of things are you talking about?
CHOW: Seann and Jaime [King] have different ideas how to create a
role, which is very interesting. They make the character look good in their
certain way, in ways I never thought about it. Plus this movie is West and East,
two cultures planted together. I’m still learning a lot of new things and I
really want to explore the culture. They taught me a lot about the American
language, about the people living in the Midwest or on the East Coast and West
Q: So even with all your experience you can come to a project and
CHOW: Every movie is give and take. I think I took a lot from every
Q: What is going on with the Monk? He has a mission.
CHOW: That’s maybe going too far. It’s only a comic book, okay? This
character is a lot of fun. You have acting, a little bit of comedy and a good
relationship with Seann’s character, the monk and Seann. It’s very unusual to
have drama, friendship, a mission, more or less, in a movie with a very
important message about Buddhism. In the very beginning scene, my master teaches
me how to understand the universe and philosophy. My character was
undisciplined, so later on in modern day I meet Seann and he gets the same
lessons that I got when I was young. I have the responsibility to put him on the
good track. So more or less, Seann and the master monk are teacher and student
and buddy and friend. It’s very complex.
Q: The relationship is important but not natural.
CHOW: Right, it’s not like most Kung Fu movies, with a master who is
stiff and serious. This one is more like friend, like buddy, interesting.
Q: You don’t understand what you have.
CHOW: Even the monk, he doesn’t know. He doesn’t understand the scroll
that much [laughs] because I don’t know how to read the Tibetan. Only joking.
Q: Talk about Jade’s character. It’s an unlikely combination.
CHOW: When I saw the dailies of a bunch of young people together, I
think I’m out of the movie – this Asian guy full of Asian culture. How can it
blend into the Western culture, blend in with the young people together. But
they actually have a lot of interesting chemistry with the Monk. Very
Q: Is it easy to say it’s good vs. evil?
CHOW: Depends on your wisdom to understand the movie, or your wisdom
to understand the philosophy of Buddhism. Actually the script has a lot of very
deep philosophy about Buddhism. It’s interesting, once you go to see it.
Q: When you first read the script, what was it that made you say I
want to be the Bulletproof Monk?
CHOW: I was 100% for this movie because my wife, Jasmine, controls
every single character I play. She’s in charge of planning my projects. I just
wait for the order. She says, “Now the movie called Bulletproof Monk. You
have to do it.” I wasn’t concerned about the character; I was concerned
with my wife. It’s an order.
Q: You’re following instructions.
CHOW: Yeah, right, instructions – “You have to do this,” and
I say, “Yes, ma’am.”
Q: Talk about Seann. This is a very serious role for him.
CHOW: That’s why he has a lot of concern about his character, about
the treatment of the lines. He always had a lot of discussions with me about how
to treat the scene. And Paul [Hunter] is a very good director. He gave us a lot
of room to create our character. I think Seann is very talented and I think he’s
one of the up and coming stars in America. He has a lot of potential and can be
a good actor and also a very popular star.
Q: Beyond his success in comedies…
CHOW: Oh yeah, absolutely. I admire him as a friend and as a buddy in
this movie. I appreciate that he is performing. I am glad I have this
opportunity to work with him.
Q: What has your experience with Jade been?
CHOW: She is not that much related to the Monk, but personally I
really, really like her. And the canvas loved her because she’s really, really
beautiful. She does a lot of martial art with Seann, like they’re dancing
together. I think it’s beautiful. Seann and Jamie have a very strong chemistry
in the movie.
QUESTION: You’ve had experience with wirework before, is this any
different or special?
CHOW: Depends on how the director treats the fighting sequence.
Actually, we can do it in the computer, but if he uses the real actor, put on
the wire, it looks more real than when you use the CGI. So, if we have a lot of
time to practice the scene, get it very organized and make it look good, we have
a strong impact on the audience. They see the real actor doing all the martial
art things in front of the camera. Plus, Stephen and Paul have a lot of new
ideas. Paul is from commercials and knows how to make the images very rich in
front of the camera, and I hope he can treat the martial art movie in a certain
different level, rather than what you saw before, like in “Crouching Tiger,
Hidden Dragon.” I really want to put my character, Seann’s character, Jamie
and the whole movie on a new level.
Q: Something different.
Q: What is it that Paul is bringing to the film?
CHOW: I haven’t seen all the dailies he cut together, but I have
confidence he can put everything together in very good shape.
Q: Has he talked to you specifically about your character and the
journey the monk is on?
CHOW: Yeah, he always taught me how the Monk looks, his color for the
Monk, you know, the hair. He had a lot of angles, plus the set up with the
lighting and everything and choosing different colors — the texture is matched
to my color tone. The combination of the color is putting in a very rich and
beautiful harmony. I told him I’ve never worked with a director like him. He had
a lot of ideas on the set, so after one take he’d request, “Yun-fat can you
do that in a different way?” He liked to ask me to do things in different
ways, which is very special in my mind. I think it is very good for an actor to
have a lot of inspiration from the director. He gave me a lot of room to create
the Monk in certain way, which I haven’t had before.
Q: Do you like that kind of thing where you can come to the set and
have ideas come out?
CHOW: Yes, every minute, every second.
Q: You have to be on your toes then. Sounds very collaborative.
CHOW: Right, right, exactly. It depends on coincidence and
inspiration, depends on the click, you know. Once we click to the same idea, or
some idea we’re happy about, which is related to our movie and related to the
character, we just do it.
Q: You talk about texture… everyone spoke about an important look.
CHOW: Yeah, you can see it in the monitor every day.
Q: Is there something unique about a project that’s produced by
Terence Chang and John Woo?
CHOW: Yes, exactly.
Q: What’s that relationship like for you? Terence said he created this
CHOW: He had this idea for four or five years already. He waited for
so long to create this project because he needed to look for a studio that could
support his group of people and make our dreams come true. I’ve worked with John
and Terence for many, many years, through many, many movies. I appreciate that
he gave me a lot of opportunity with his company and his colleagues. This is a
long relationship with them, you know, melodrama, comedy, action. When he told
me he had created some new project for me, I was so glad to do it because we’ve
known each other for so long.
Q: Must be nice in this business to have such a strong relationship.
CHOW: Oh yeah, absolutely, absolutely.
Q: Can you summarize what audiences can expect?
CHOW: I think it’s more than I can summarize, you know.
Q: It’s got a little bit off everything, but it’s not a martial arts
CHOW: It’s a lot of different combinations together. I can say that
this is very interesting movie. Everything you can name or think about, you can
see in this movie.