Bulletproof Monk (1985) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Brandon Tartikoff became the youngest man ever to head a network when he became president of NBC in 1980 at the age of 31. Tartikoff left behind a permanent linguistic legacy when two of his pet phrases came out of industry jargon and became part of popular culture. (1) He used the term "high concept" to describe a show that could be summed up in about ten words. (2) The high concept situation comedy summaries popularized the phrase "hilarity ensues".

  • The viceroy catches hunger-striking Gandhi eating a rack of lamb. Hilarity ensues.

  • Bill's late mother comes back as a barcalounger. Hilarity ensues.

  • Child genius ordained as a 12 year old priest. Hilarity ensues.

  • Ashley and Mary-Kate hit by falling cocoanuts. Amnesia and hilarity ensue.

The catch phrase "hilarity ensues" has certainly been around at least since the fifties. I can't state the case with certainty, or prove it with citations, but I'm quite sure it has always been a favorite of TV Guide for condensing comedy show summaries, probably dating back to the New Stone Age, or at least to I Married Joan.



  • Ricky needs new luggage. Lucy overhears him complaining to Fred about "getting rid of the old bag". Hilarity ensues.

  • Judge Bradley Stevens sentences Joan's dope dealer. Hilarity and cold turkey ensue.

The movie Bulletproof Monk is a perfect example of high concept:

Monk, only protector of all-powerful ancient scroll, must choose successor. Chooses Stifler. Hilarity ensues.

DVD info from Amazon

  • Commentary by director Paul Hunter and producers Charles Roven and Douglas Segal

  • Commentary by the writers

  • Deleted scenes with optional commentary by the editor

  • Alternate ending

  • "The Tao of Monk": 5 behind-the-scenes featurettes

  • "The Monk Unrobed" featurette

  • Widescreen anamorphic format

OK, to be honest, almost no hilarity ensues. The film's weakness is that it makes almost no use of its intriguing "Stifler as Chosen One" premise. There is very little humor. In fact, it is just another 1980s style Hong Kong movie, except in English, and it takes itself much too seriously. It operates at a comic book level of depth and characterization - exaggerated sadistic Nazis and Buddhist monks who have read too many fortune cookies - but it offers little of the wild action and fun normally offered by comics as compensation for the lack of profundity. A good comic knows that it can strive to be profound only to the extent that it earns its stripes with energy,  pyrotechnics,  and an offhand, casual approach to infinity. The action in this flick develops too slowly, and the payoff is too small. Great fight scenes seem to be promised, but they never really occur.

Some of the action is pretty damned confusing. I kept thinkin', "Where did those characters go? Why did they introduce those people in the first place? When did the monk actually come clean about the scroll? What really happened to those other monks in the torture contraptions?" I had to drop all these sorts of objections, however, because these problems are all solved within the DVD. Just watch the deleted scenes, and all is explained.

By the way, Stifler's mentor is The Monk With No Name. I'm guessing that when he was studying Buddhism, the made him give up all his worldly possessions except his Clint Eastwood movies, and America albums.

The Critics Vote

  • Panel consensus: two stars. Ebert 2/4, Berardinelli 2/4, BBC 3/5

The People Vote ...

  • Box Office Mojo. A major disappointment. Production costs were above $50 million. Marketing costs were about $25 million more. Domestic gross was only $23 million.


The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, this is a D. It is a tedious movie, even if you like the style of 1980's Hong Kong films with some state-of-the-art wire work effects.

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