A street wise attempt to recreate “The Karate Kid”, ‘Monk’ proves a rather cliched actioneer desperate to meld an “Indiana Jones”-esque plot with “Kiss of the Dragon” style urban fighting antics. The result is a film based on utterly tired and useless material, but isn’t a complete write-off thanks to its likable cast. The philosophical mentor teaching the punkish kid the wiseness of patience – its an old formula which funnily enough still works well at times.
What makes it work here is Yun-Fat and Scott. The former always has a majestic presence around him and he works that angle a lot, but combines it with a slightly twisted sense of humour to make himself an easy to watch ‘teacher’ character. Similarly Scott may not be doing his usual goofy antics, but is able to pull off the difficult combination of both cocky arrogance and enjoyable rogueishness. The two also have a good chemistry which plays off each other well. James King is a nice female foil but nothing special, similarly Karel Roden makes for a weak villain (although Victoria Smurfit as his retail snooty daughter assistant is deliciously over the top).
The FX are quite lacklustre, the locations very ordinary (even the very CG matte background beginning), and the editing and score is filled with standard Michael Bay style cutting and dud rock music backing respectively. Pacing is actually pretty good though the fights tend to meld together (and are overly filled with wire fu), whilst other elements such as a street punk named Mr. Funktastic are too silly to take seriously. I saw a rough cut of this with orchestral score and less jerky editing a few months back and it was far better than this final cut.