A martial artist/doctor steals from the corrupt authorities as a masked thief to give to the poor while another martial artist/doctor is forced to hunt him down. But a major threat unites them as a powerful and traitorous shaolin monk takes over the authorities.
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A Hong Kong variation on Robin Hood. The corrupt officials of a Chinese village are continually robbed by a masked bandit know as "Iron Monkey" named after a benevolent deity. When all else fails, the Govenor forces a traveling physician (Donnie Yen) into finding the bandit. The arrival of an evil Shaolin monk, brings the Physician and Iron Monkey together to battle the corrupt government. Written by
Ronald L. Strong <RS080455@PACBELL.NET>
Version: Universal Studios / Hong Kong Legends R4 DVD release. Cantonese / English subtitles.
I first saw 'Iron Monkey' on an old, poor-quality VHS release with dodgy English subtitles placed underneath really big and bright Chinese subtitles that took up half of the screen space. You know the type I'm talking about. Even then, my immediate reaction was "AWESOME WOW AWESOME".
The corrupt officials of a Chinese province find themselves the target of Iron Monkey (Rongguang Yu), a sort of Chinese Robin Hood. When Wong Kei Ying (Donnie Yen) and a young Wong Fei Hung (Sze-Man Tsang) arrive in town, Kei Ying is forced to help the corrupt authorities track down Iron Monkey. Naturally, things get complicated when a group of Shaolin rebels arrive in town. Led by Hin Hung (Yee Kwan Yan) these evil Shaolin Monks and Nuns have been paid take out our heroes, leaving Iron Monkey, Kei Ying, Fei Hung, and Miss Orchid (Jean Wang) to kick many an evil-doers arse.
The story in 'Iron Monkey' serves only as a device to allow for more fighting. Things that might usually be kept secret are revealed nearly straight away, just to avoid any major plot twists and allow for more kung-fu time. In fact, in 'Iron Monkey', kung-fu time occurs much more frequently then plot-development time, and whenever a plot-development moment comes along, it usually accompanied by kung-fu time. Awesome.
We all know that Donnie Yen and Rongguang Yu are awesome. They spend a good deal of time putting on some awesome fight scenes. Jean Wang and Sze-Man Tsang (who, in Monkey Magic style, is actually a girl) pull of some really cool action sequences. Granted, most of it is grounded in fantasy, much like 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon' and friends, but it still looks really cool, and a few of these fights are easily some of my favourite fight-scenes ever. Also, the technique names rule. I wish I could perform a no-shadow kick or a King Kong palm.
'Iron Monkey' is nearly nothing but martial arts fantasy. Fans of Hong Kong wuxia movies will get a kick out of this, as will action fans in general. Fans of 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon', 'Hero', and 'House of Flying Daggers' should see this to see how wuxia should be done, but they may not like it. Fantastic action movie - 9/10
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