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“This is America,” a young Yankee thief tells the nameless Tibetan holy man of Bulletproof Monk. “We don’t have enlightenment.” No, but we do have a great ethic of assimilation. Hence Hollywood’s quest to reinvent the Hong Kong genre film. Here’s the genre this time: A warrior (Chow Yun-Fat) charged with a sacred mission (protecting a supernatural text) fights off the bad guys (a cabal of unregenerate Nazis) while grooming a younger warrior (American Pie’s Seann William Scott) to be his understudy and eventual heir. The main variation on the theme is that the younger guy, a pickpocket and kung-fu-movie enthusiast named Kar, has a mysterious young lady friend (Jaime King) who’s slightly better at beating people up than he is. The mystical monk has the usual talents: ultrafast reflexes, the ability to walk on air, and so on. Editing and CGI take care of the fighting parts, though, because Chow’s real superpower is acting: the ability to seem plausibly, winningly human as (for instance) he twirls around in the thick of things, serenely eating a bowl of Cocoa Puffs. He meshes nicely with Scott—who brings the correct mix of bravado and cowardice to his role—but he meshes nicely with everybody. While his protégé noisily battles his way into a heavily guarded mansion, Chow sits on the lawn, having a sweet moment of communion with a Doberman. The story is Schlock-O-Matic, squeezing in the Russian mafia; a multiethnic criminal gang led by a tattooed, 20-something Fagin type; a secret American colony of Tibetan kung-fu monks; a she-Nazi dominatrix in a tight black-leather overcoat; and a ferocious monkey—among other things. But whatever comes up, no matter how stupid, there’s the irrepressible Chow, promising that if you hang in there, he’ll have more fun with you later. —Tom Scocca