|Index||10 reviews in total|
Excellently crafted kung-fu film dealing with the conflict between the
Manchus and the Shaolin monks. We see the barbaric actions of the
Manchus from early on in the film, and the tension builds quite
steadily until there is only one option left: fight to the death.
Sammo is brilliant as usual and his directorial talent can be identified in this film clearly. His martial artistry is great and his strength improves as things get more desperate. His use of the spear in the final reel is awesome. Also, watch out for the snake-fist styles towards the end.
That said, this is a pretty challenging film in that it portrays senseless and random abuse towards women and children - well pretty much the whole village really. But I guess it makes the revenge angle all that much sweeter... and righteous: (Buddha be praised).
Sammo stars as a man who is learning kung fu so that he can fight the
Manchus. The directing from Sammo is good, the camera-work is
brilliant, the story is decent, and the fights are very good for 1977.
Fung Hak-on plays the main villain, and Yen Shi Kwan and Chien Yuet San
play his top 2 henchmen. Always nice to see those 3 in action. Chen
Sing has a small role and unfortunately he doesn't get to show off his
handwork as much as he usually does. But he's still a great actor so I
liked his role. If you have seen most of Sammo's movies and are looking
for something else to feed your Sammo craving, then give this a try.
Picture and sound quality on the 20th century Fox DVD are good.
The Iron-Fisted Monk (1977) is Sammo Hung's brilliant directorial
debut. Though the revenge plot is average for kung fu films of the
time, the martial arts action and choreography are extraordinary.
Iron-Fisted Monk marked the beginning of Hung's movie making prime. In
the late 70's and early 80's Hung stared in and directed some of his
best films including: Warriors Two, The Magnificent Butcher, The
Prodigal Son, Knockabout and The Victim. The Iron-Fisted Monk was the
film that got his directorial career rolling.
In the Iron-Fisted Monk, Sammo Hung plays "Husker," a young civilian who is taken in and trained by Shaolin monks after his uncle was killed by the Manchus. Seeking vengeance he eventually leaves the temple. After a group of Manchu officials make trouble in a small town, Husker teams up with a local man named Liang and the "iron fisted monk" Brother Tak (Chan Sing) to finally bring justice to the evil Manchu officials.
The martial arts action and choreography in this film are unbelievable. The film features some of the "hardest" kung fu you will ever see in a Sammo Hung film. Sammo does a great job playing to his strengths, providing a good mixture of martial arts and acrobatics. When this film was made Sammo was young and very near his physical prime. He is very fast and powerful and gives one of his better physical performances. Chan Sing also gives one of the most inspired physical performances of his career. Along with kung fu, the film features a lot of weapon fighting including: swords, spears, knifes and staffs.
The film was made by Golden Harvest studios, which means high production values and a talented stable of actors to work with. Notable appearances in the film include: James Tien as a Shaolin instructor, Casanova Wong as a young monk and Lam Ching-ying as an extra. Fung Hak-on (Warriors Two, Magnificent Butcher) plays the villain yet again and does a very convincing job.
Unlike many of Hung's films, Iron-Fisted Monk has a very serious tone. There are some comedic touches but they are overpowered by the intense drama. The Iron-Fisted Monk is one of Hung's more violent films, featuring very aggressive fight sequences and lots of bloodshed. The movie also includes a few brutal rape scenes. The rape scenes are very graphic and intense and, in my opinion, should have been toned down or left out completely. There is also a ridiculous nude scene in a brothel featuring Wu Ma. The scene was meant for comic relief but should have been left out also. The rape and nude scenes are the only detractions to this otherwise brilliant martial arts film.
The Iron-Fisted Monk was Sammo Hung's first effort as a filmmaker, but it is hard to tell. The martial arts action in the film is superb and outshines most other films made at the time. There are a few weak spots but overall it is a top notch genre film. The Iron-Fisted Monk is one of Sammo Hung's best works and is definitely in the top 30 best martial arts films of all time. The film is definitely not a family friendly Sammo movie but it is highly recommended for hard core kung fu genre buffs.
Martial Arts Genre Rating: 8/10
- "You're a Shaolin monk. How dare you kill indiscriminately!"
- "We're here to rid this world of a rapist and a murderer!"
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Iron Fisted Monk, heavyweight HK superstar Sammo Hung's directorial
debut, is a powerful old school kung fu movie which sees the portly one
at his physical peak on screen as well as calling the shots behind the
The story is a familiar one of revenge and retribution, but it is told with style and verve and features some truly incredible martial arts sequences.
Husker (Sammo) is a student of the Shaolin monks, learning kung fu so that he can avenge his uncle, who was murdered by the nasty Manchus who control the province. He leaves his training early, desperate to teach the killers a lesson and teams up with a martial artist monk (Chan Sing) who is teaching a group of factory workers how to defend themselves. When the Manchus attack the factory and kill everyone there, Husker and his Buddhist pal decide it's time to even the score.
Sammo directs this polished film with surprising skill and delivers a superb movie that blends humour, action and some moments of shocking violence. The scenes of sexual violence (there a couple of nasty rapes perpetrated by the Manchu baddies) may be hard to take at times, but they do give the viewers a real good reason to want to see the Manchus get their comeuppance.
The final fight scene is a fantastic display of athletic agility, superb choreography and totally mind-blowing action. Sammo's first movie is a brilliant example of late 70s HK movie-making and should be seen by all fans of the genre.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It's hard to review these 70s kung fu flicks. It's not like anyone
watches them for deeply moving portrayals of the human condition,
dialog that slices through social pretense or cinematography that makes
you look at the world in a whole new way. These movies are a form of
adolescently macho ballet where guys pretend to beat the holy heck out
of each other in often ludicrously elaborate ways. You can evaluate
them, but you've got to use a standard that doesn't apply to another
other form of cinema.
To start with, I'm not going to concern myself with how poorly constructed is the plot of The Iron-Fisted Monk. Husker (Sammon Hung Kam-Bo) is a goofy student at a Shao-Lin temple who runs away one day because he's anxious to get revenge on the Manchu clan who killed his uncle. So of course, he really does nothing to seek revenge until he's dragged into it kicking and screaming by Tak (Sing Chen), a villager who has both of his sisters raped and his mother killed by the Manchu. But before either of them go looking for justice, they naturally try and drag Husker's Shao-Lin master (James Tien) to a whore house. In fact, the whole "revenge" thing is almost forgotten until the Manchu slaughter an entire factory full of guys after an attempted business scam involving all the red dye in town goes awry. But, once everyone else is dead, Husker and his master do finally get around to kicking Manchu ass and taking Manchu names.
There's also no point is trying to analyze any of the performances here. As with many other 70s kung fu flicks, the acting in The Iron-Fisted Monk is of a very broad and almost vaudevillian nature. Between that and the ridiculously bad dubbing of the dialog into English, it's impossible to tell if you're watching bad acting or good acting from a different cultural context.
Occasionally, the direction of one of these things can be a bit more interesting than usual. That's not the case here. If you've seen another 70s kung fu flick, you pretty know what this one looks like.
The only thing that ultimately matters with this film and all its brethren is what are the fight scenes like? And the answer is they're pretty good. The Iron-Fisted Monk is pre-wire fu, so nobody flies through air and does a triple lutz before landing on the petal of a daffodil and toe-kicking some guy across the room. But the ritualized back and forth of strike and counterstrike is pulled off nicely, with the "fights" following a certain logic and staged in such a way and you can see what each combatant is doing and trying to do. Distinguishing a lot of a action here is the fact that Sammo Hung Kam-Bo is just plain old fat. He's got a double chin and a physique like a pickle barrel, but he moves with surprising grace and power. Watching him do kung fu is like watching a guy with no fingers play the violin. That he can do it at all is impressive. That's he's really good at it is makes it impossible to take your eyes off him.
The Iron-Fisted Monk also has some naked female flesh and a weirdly graphic rape scene. I say weirdly graphic because the tone of the rest of the movie is more slapstick than serious drama, yet the rape of Tak's first sister is pretty explicit and goes on for a while. The effect is almost like someone took a Three Stooges short and spliced in a few minutes from the middle of I Spit On Your Grave. But again, it's hard to know if it's crude and exploitative storytelling or it's some Chinese thing that Caucasians don't understand.
If you want a see a 70s kung fu flick, this one is as good as any other. Beyond that, I'm not sure what to say.
In some ways, it was a memorable film. It wasn't noticeably good or
shockingly bad, but it had a few unusual scenes that will certainly
surprise and unsettle the viewer. It is not your regular kung fu flick
even though it had it all: bad guys, good guys, fights between the two
and humour between the fights. For one, it also had descriptive rape
scenes. I can't remember a Chinese kung fu film with sex being shown in
such a crude way, clothes being ripped off, breasts popping out, lewd
smirks on the rapist face and ultimately, the victim's death.
That gave the film a startling and awkward contrast with the lighter scenes. A little after the sister of one of the lead characters died following a tragic chain of events, we see that same man, who seemed to be on a quest for revenge, playing around with the idea of going to a brothel with a monk. As this shows, the characters had little consistency -- and little cohesion too, even though Sammo Hung's character was supposed to be the hero, the perspective was shifting so much eventually that it felt difficult to isolate one character as the subject.
Bad guys received more and more screen time, secondary characters came forth while the lead wandered off. The only appropriate way to clear up this profusion of central characters was to have them all kill each other. And so is what the script did. Confrontations suddenly pick up speed, people die en masse, "patience", which virtually was the only reason holding back everyone to settle the scores is no more, thrusting the remaining characters into the grand finale, a somewhat intimate fight between the toughest and the nastiest characters, whose unrestrained sadism had been cultivated during the infamous rapes.
As if in response to these extreme scenes, the makers chose to end with another extreme, gory violence. Like it or not, it does feel fair, but fair as in a talion. Without these short sadistic bouts that seemed borrowed from American exploitation films of the time, it would have been a pretty unremarkable kung fu story. The fights, well-choreographed and using the classic animal postures dear to a long kung fu tradition, are however terribly choppy, to the point that you could easily time the moves "one-two, one-two" as they are performed. Iron-Fisted Monk is not a good kung fu film to start with, it is an oddity that will be met with greater interest by longtime B-movie amateurs.
Breaking barriers and setting new standards in on-screen fight choreography, Sammo's directorial debut is a must for any chop socky aficionado, and although not his best work (a warm up to Warriors Two), it can easily stand proudly amongst them. It's hodgepodge of a story acts as a boiling pot of escalating annihilation, until exploding in a fury of that unique fast and colourful Sammo choreography that we just love so much. Centring on the real-life legend of 'Miller Six' (Sammo), Iron Fisted Monk is driven by a powerful anti-Manchu narrative that feels relentless in its onslaught (they rape, kill, maim and pillage, not to mention bully little kiddies). Miller Six's uncle is killed, he learns the martial arts at the local Shaolin temple, and then off he goes for vengeance. And it's really as simple as that. This is a great movie - well choreographed (by Sammo), well directed (by Sammo) and with some great performances (especially that scoundrel Fung Hark-on who's simply irresistible as a downright evil Manchu warlord).
This movie happens to be the first directorial effort by Sammo Hung. It certainly doesn't do to badly. It starts off decently, and the learning curve is very sharp. Each fight in the movie is more surely Choreographed and is faster than the ones that preceded it. There is a prevelance of armed combat and acrobatics (non-wire) which are all well done. Sammo is as young as you'll see him in any movie except ENTER THE DRAGON. There is however an annoyingly large amount of nudity in this movie. The plot has Sammo training as a civilian in a shaolin temple in order to avenge the death of a neighbor at the hands of some manchu thugs. He has improved to the point of teaching classes to other non-monks at the temple. He decides to head out after the manchus, after his skills have reached a certain level. he is assisted by the brother of another victim of the manchu's, and his instructor, who is the title character. Sammo and the monk are both extremely fast and athletic, doing some impressive back flips and leaps. give it a try if you run across it.
Well. I have to say I am rather amazed that this movie has a 7-star rating at IMDb. I was looking forward to Iron-Fisted Monk, but it strongly disappointed me. The plot and the characters are staggeringly formulaic, and far, far too much time is spent on the bad guys raping and massacring people with impunity (of course, this doesn't mean that there aren't several idiotic comedy scenes in it, also, complete with the worst sound effects in cinema history). There is also far too long between good fight scenes. The last ten minutes are satisfying, but everything else is decidedly below average. A very poor and disappointing effort from Sammo Hung, who has done so many other cool movies. I thought Iron-Fisted Monk would be one of his landmark efforts, but it's more of a landmark failure. It's just not in good taste, and does not deserve a rating above 3 or 4.
Sammo's directorial debut is a mixed bag with some great fight scenes, decent comedy, and unpleasant scenes of violence. The plot, which rolls along almost painfully a times, centers around Husker (Sammo Hung) seeking revenge against the Machus for killing his uncle. Along the way to actually taking revenge he befriends a man who's daughter is raped by the local Manchu official and ultimately enlists in the aid of his wandering monk friend, Brother Tak, to take on the Manchus. The plot changes direction so many times that one has to wonder if it was made up as they went along. There are a couple rape scenes midway through the movie that are unnecessarily explicit and go on much too long. As the movie progresses though we are treated to some decent martial arts sequence, which are not as elaborate as Sammo's later works, but fast paced and solid none the less. Worth watching for the fight sequences, but sitting through the plot might turn you off of the movie before you get to them.
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