Iron Monkey

"Excellent"

Iron Monkey Review


The American action film has been slowly drowning to death in a sea of Asian wire-fu copycats. It's not a pretty death, and it's leaving the likes of Schwarzenegger, Stallone, and Van Damme wearing cement galoshes at the bottom of a kung fu sea.

Sometimes, the mix results in a mind-blowing spectacle unlike any other. Quality action with amazing and exciting stunt work, as in 1999's The Matrix, can be a real gem. But too often Hollywood gets it wrong, even when they pay off Chinese directors. Flying ninjas and floating karate masters have been replaced by soaring Bronx detectives and slow motion kicking scientists. Mostly it's laughable. In Hollywood's rush to emulate the success of The Matrix, trademark Asian stunt choreography has become more of a joke than an art form. But Iron Monkey, the latest Asian import, shows us how to get it right.

Iron Monkey (actually a reissue of a 1993 film) is the story of a 19th Chinese vigilante (Rongguang Yu), fighting with his own unique style of Shaolin kung fu for the rights of the oppressed and the bellies of the hungry. But it is also a piece of the narrative of legendary Chinese film hero Wong Fei-Hong, most recently seen in one of the most overlooked, and possibly best films of 2000, Drunken Master 2 (released in the U.S. as The Legend of Drunken Master). Unlike Drunken Master 2, which stars Jackie Chan as an adult Fei-Hong, Iron Monkey finds a much younger Fei-Hong (Sze-Man Tsang) and his father Wong Kei-Ying (Yen Chi Dan) thrust into the middle of Iron Monkey's fight against oppression.

Iron Monkey succeeds as no kung fu film since Drunken Master 2. At times, fighting styles, especially that of Monkey himself, do devolve into the ridiculous twinkle-toed floating of films like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, director Yuen Wo Ping eventually remembers to bring his action scenes back to earth.

Iron Monkey is at its heart a hardcore, kung fu action film rather than any kind of drama a la Crouching Tiger. However, there are brief moments of profoundness shared between characters, such as those that pass between our outlaw hero and his good-hearted but misguided enemy, Chief Fox. In those moments, and in others, Iron Monkey manages to transcend its mindless kung fu nature to touch the hearts and minds of its audience. While in no way the equal of a masterpiece like Drunken Master 2, Iron Monkey dances quite nicely to the invading kung fu tune.

The DVD gets you subtitles or dubs -- your choice -- plus an interview with Quentin Tarantino (who "presents" this reissue, and another with co-star Donnie Yen.

Aka Siunin Wong Fei-hung tsi titmalau.

Wicked simian.



Iron Monkey

Facts and Figures

Run time: 85 mins

In Theaters: Friday 12th October 2001

Box Office USA: $14.2M

Box Office Worldwide: $14.7M

Distributed by: Dimension Films

Production compaines: Golden Harvest Company, Film Workshop, Long Shong Pictures, Media Asia Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 90%
Fresh: 82 Rotten: 9

IMDB: 7.6 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer:

Starring: Yu Rong-Guang as Dr. Yang (''Iron Monkey''), as Wong Kei-ying, as Miss Orchid, Angie Tsang Sze-Man as Wong Fei-Hung, Yen Shi-Kwan as Wonder Palm Monk Hin Hung, as Governor Cheng Pak Fong, Yuen Shun-Yi as Master Fox, Lee Fai as Monk Hin Hung's disciple, Hsiao Ho as Monk Hin Hung's disciple, Chun Kwai-Bo as One of the bad monks, Chan Siu-Wah as One of the bad monks, Mandy Chan as One of the bad monks, Alex Yip Choi-Naam as One of the bad monks, Cheung Fung-Lei as Governor's favourite mistress, Shut Mei-Yee as Governor's advisor, William Duen Wai-Lun as Fat rich patient, Dang Taai-Woh as Chief of thieves' gang

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