Iron Monkey


This amazing martial arts action movie was originally filmed in 1993 as Siunin Wong Fei-hung tsi titmalau.  The action scenes are choreographed by director Woo-Ping Yuen (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny) who also choreographed The Matrix films and several others.

Iron Monkey takes place in 1858 when war and crime drove people from their homes.  They seek protection from the Shaolin monks in Chekiang, China, but corrupt officials and robbers antagonize these refugees who are hungry for food and justice.

Iron Monkey enters with martial arts heroics as he plays a cross between Santa Claus and Batman.  This masked hero leaves assets for those in need and antagonizes the corrupt government all while keeping his identity secret.   He has great morals and takes righteous stands for the people.  The antagonists predictably exploit these traits, but the instant it happen is still a surprise.

The government’s actions are also played for laughs – note the scenes where they round up suspects.  This film has many scenes of comedy that relate directly to the characters, so the plot develops as the audience is entertained.

Iron Monkey stars Donnie Yen (Ip Man, Blade II, Highlander: Endgame) as Wong Kei-Ying and Rongguang Yu (Shanghai Noon) as Dr. Yang.  Legendary folk hero, Wong Fei-Hung, appears as a young boy and is played by actress Tsang Sze-Man.

Jean Wang plays Miss Orchid Ho and James Wong, also an accomplished movie score composer, plays Governor Cheng.  Shun-Yee Yuen plays Master Fox, chief of the local police.

The amazing fight sequences include great sound effects, amazing choreography, and an exciting finale with posts and dangerous flames.  The editing keeps the transitions smooth which enhances the artful action sequences even more.  You will also enjoy the cultural scenes in the film involving food, traditions, family and manners.   The plot uses flashbacks and dream sequences to give some solid background to the characters.  You really care about these people and their cause.  Even without the amazing martial arts, Iron Monkey would be a quality film because of the strong plot.

An enjoyable action film that conveys real emotions through its characters while providing some of the greatest moments of action recorded on film. Director/actor Quentin Tarantino is listed in the beginning credits with Golden Harvest and Miramax.  He contributed to bringing this film to a U.S. release. Recommended (*** out of four stars) and rated PG-13 for violence and sexuality.

If you want to know more about this folk hero watch Once Upon a Time in China (Wong Fei-Hung), a great film made in 1991 starring Jet Li and directed by Hark Tsui that tells the story of Wong Fei-Hung’s exploits as an older man late in the 19th century.

Copyright © Michael Siebenaler

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