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Iron Monkey (1993)

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[Movie Reviews]


-Donnie Yen
-Tsang Sze-Man
-Yu Rong-Guang


When the officials are greedy and corrupt, while the people suffer, a masked man steals from the rich to give to the poor. This "Robin Hood" figure is the (in)famous Iron Monkey. As a higher official is scheduled to come to town, the local authorities make it priority number one to catch Iron Monkey. After arresting many suspects with "monkey" traits, the real Iron Monkey shows his face. In order to free the other suspects, Wong Kei Ying must track down and catch Iron Monkey, while the police hold his son, Wong Fei Hung, as collateral.


Iron Monkey is the ultimate wire-fu film. Under the eye of director Yuen Woo Ping, we get a movie filled with fun comedy and insane wired-up fight scenes. Iron Monkey is a standard setting kung fu flick that should be in any kung fu fan's collection.

The plot is remniscent of Robin Hood. But, in a traditional martial arts setting combined with the story Wong Kei Ying and son Wong Fei Hung, we get a completely unique story. In addition to being a solid, though far from groundbreaking, story that sets up for some good old kung fu, the movie includes lots of comedy. The movie itself is mostly light-hearted with fun characters and goofy gags, like Iron Monkey posing as a high official and causing confusion. And, who can't laugh at some of the goofy things that happen during the fights. I burst out laughing when one of the mistresses was used as a human shield in the end fight then kicked to the side like nothing as the attack continued. In any other movie, that wouldn't be funny - but it is hilarious here.

Fights themselves are plenty. It is classic Yuen Woo Ping wire-work, but some of the most unique, funny, and entertaining of the sort. If you hate wirework, you'll hate the fights here. But, if you like it - you'll find this to be some of the best. In addition to the great hand to hand combat, some cool weapons are used, and even robe sleeves become weapons when the wires come into play. In particular, though, I found the young Wong Fei Hung to be particularly impressive. The young girl (yes, that's right) that played Fei Hung was very impressive in these scenes and you'll find them on par with much that you will see from the grown men. Aside from some annoying undercranking, the fights here are pure gold.

If you ask a martial arts fan for a good wire-fu film, chances are that this will be the overwhelming response. This is for good reason. The fun atmoshpere of the film and the highly entertaining wire-fu fights make for a truly unique film. I've shown this film to people who aren't even into kung fu films, but after this, all they could say was "Hell Yeah!" That short quote captures the excitement of the film well.


-Yuen Woo Ping


-Original Cantonese language.
-Both original HK and Disney versions.