After the success of Shaolin Plot (1977), Sammo Kam-Bo Hung's first starring role, Sammo asked a producer working at Golden Harvest if he could direct a movie, he agreed and wrote the script for Hung, while Hung directed and starred in the movie. See more »
The US DVD version contains the uncut Hong Kong print of the film. See more »
Kung Fu Hardcore
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.
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