Iron Monkey

"Very Good"

Iron Monkey Review


In a transparent attempt to jump on the "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" bandwagon, Miramax has dug up one of the 1990s' very best feudal China kung fu flicks and given it a big budget makeover.

"Iron Monkey" is a "Robin Hood"-like fable about a masked martial artist who wreaks havoc upon a corrupt, oppressive provincial government on behalf of the people. Directed by famed, gravity-shunning fight choreographer Yuen Wo-Ping ("Crouching Tiger" and "The Matrix" both boast his handiwork), it was first released in 1993.

This re-edited 2001 version features souped-up visual and sound effects (the punches still have that slapstick, kung fu flick ring to them, but it's a Dolby 5.1 slapstick ring), and a new score to bring the final product an up-to-date, rock'em-sock'em energy.

But the picture's cheesy Hong Kong charm is still intact as spectacularly, enthusiastically implausible fight scenes take front and center, tent-poled by a story lifted from Chinese legend.

The Iron Monkey is a limber and mysterious hero with Batman's sense of nocturnal theatrics and penchant for gadgets (smoke bombs, shoe-piercing spikes). He comes by night to pinch from the coffers of greedy officials and play footsie-to-the-face with their legions of guards in dozens-on-one showdowns that make you cheer at their complexity and laugh at their deliberate touches of whimsy. This is an action movie in which the good guy balances on the head of one opponent while kicking the butts of several others.

By day the Iron Monkey (Yu Rong Guang) is a benevolent doctor named Yang. He treats the poor for free with the help of a pretty young assistant (Jean Wang) who can fight with the best of them when the occasion calls for it.

This people's-champion vigilante soon becomes such a nuisance to the comically crooked governor that, in a scene played for laughs, he has everyone who could conceivably be the Iron Monkey rounded up. A street performer doing back-flips is arrested. So is a beggar scratching himself on the head in monkey fashion.

Caught in the dragnet is Wong Kei-Ying (Donnie Yen), a kung fu master whose services the governor extorts by way of holding his son hostage until the Iron Monkey is captured.

When the boy (Sze-Man Tsang) falls ill, Dr. Yang secures his release under the auspices of medical treatment. Then Yang and Wong join forces to defeat the governor and a ruthless royal minister who has come from the capital to oversee the pursuit of the Iron Monkey.

As good as "Crouching Tiger," but without the austere elegance, this movie is pure, unadulterated fun -- and when it comes to the crowd-drawing fight sequences, "Iron Monkey" boasts some of the best ever filmed.

Yuen Wo-Ping pays homage to Charlie Chaplain in the first fight featuring Wong and his son fending off a dozen villagers with an umbrella. Twelve-year-old Tsang (whose character grows up to be the legendary hero of both Jet Li's "Once Upon A Time In China" films and Jackie Chan's "The Legend of Drunken Master") is an even more astonishing combatant than teenage Zhang Ziyi was in "Crouching Tiger," and is the centerpiece of his own eye-popping fight later in the film.

Eventually everyone gets into the act when the Iron Monkey, the girl and the Wongs team up against the sinister royal minister and his gadgety smock with unintentionally humorous flying sleeves that kill people.

The awesome climactic showdown finds the Iron Monkey and Master Wong fighting the minister for their lives while all are balanced atop a field of wooden pillars -- which are on fire and liable to collapse at any moment. I guarantee you've never seen anything like it.



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: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 90%
Fresh: 82 Rotten: 9

IMDB: 7.6 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Yuen Woo Ping

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

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Colossal Movie Review

Colossal Movie Review

It's rare to find a movie that so defiantly refuses to be put into a...

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

It's unlikely that Guy Ritchie could make a boring movie if he wanted to. This...

Snatched Movie Review

Snatched Movie Review

It doesn't really matter that the script for this lively action-comedy is paper thin: teaming...

Jawbone Movie Review

Jawbone Movie Review

Boxing movies aren't usually this thoughtful. Sure, there are plenty of punchy moments in the...

Whisky Galore! Movie Review

Whisky Galore! Movie Review

Scottish filmmaker Gillies MacKinnon (Hideous Kinky) remakes the 1949 Ealing comedy classic, although it's difficult...

Alien: Covenant Movie Review

Alien: Covenant Movie Review

Master filmmaker Ridley Scott is back to continue the story 10 years after the events...

The Journey (2017) Movie Review

The Journey (2017) Movie Review

A fictionalised account of real events, this drama is reminiscent of Peter Morgan's work in...

Advertisement
Sleepless Movie Review

Sleepless Movie Review

In remaking the 2011 French thriller Sleepless Night, the filmmakers have dumbed down both the...

Unlocked Movie Review

Unlocked Movie Review

By injecting a steady sense of fun, this slick but mindless action thriller both holds...

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

A seriously impressive feature directing debut with a star-making central performance, this period British drama...

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

It was never going to be easy to match the impact of 2014's Guardians of...

The Promise Movie Review

The Promise Movie Review

The director of Hotel Rwanda, Terry George, turns to another humanitarian horror: the systematic murder...

Their Finest Movie Review

Their Finest Movie Review

Skilfully written, directed and acted, this offbeat British period film tells a story that catches...

Unforgettable Movie Review

Unforgettable Movie Review

With heavy echoes of trashy thrillers like Fatal Attraction, this movie overcomes its painfully simplistic...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.