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.
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>
(at around 59 mins) In the Iron Monkey's first fight with the witch, she cuts off his braid of hair. However, in some scenes after the fight, it's there again, and in some scenes, it isn't. See more »
[dubbed and subtitled versions]
Don't take things too seriously, and you will always be at ease.
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The scenes that are deleted from Miramax's version of the film are not minor. Also, many of the cuts are also made to the fight scenes themselves.
The English subtitles on the Miramax version of the film are not a direct translation of the Cantonese. Some of those changes include rewording of dialog (i.e., the entire flashback scene for Miss Orchid is reworded to make it seem that Miss Orchid was not a prostitute), changing the names of many of the moves done by the characters (i.e., calling the "No Shadow Kick" a "Shadow Kick"), and adding back story that is never said or spoken about in the Cantonese dialog (Miramax adds an entire back story to Iron Monkey's character about his father getting murdered which only exists in the Miramax subtitles, not in the Cantonese dialog).
It is THE martial arts film to see -- it is about young Wong Fei-hung, before Tsui Hark-Jet Li's "Once Upon A Time In China" period.
Hong Kong film director and martial arts expert Yuen Woo-ping is absolutely outstanding. In "Iron Monkey," one scene I admire most is the poetically quiet, beautiful interaction of fluid movements in graceful progression: as Dr. Yang and Miss Orchid close shop (the clinic), a whiff of wind blows the papers (written prescriptions) up in the air, and Yang (who's actually Iron Monkey) elevates himself up into the air to catch the flying papers, while Orchid, with a few agile movements and glides, catches the balance of the flying papers. It's like a short interlude - a silent romantic song with punctuated accents - with a slight kick from Miss Orchid, a stool plops into place upside down as it should be on another neatly ends the piece. I actually relish this quiet segment much more than the awe-struck extensive finale scene, which is truly an amazing display of exquisitely choreographed martial art movements of three masters (two good forces tenaciously team up against one skillful evil monk) on multiple wooden poles with inferno-like fire a-dancing below. Fantastic performances from Donnie Yen as Wong Kei-ying, father of Wong Fei-hung, who's deftly portrayed by a young girl Tsang Sze-man, and Yu Rongguang as Dr. Yang/Iron Monkey, with Jean Wang as Miss Orchid, to the upstanding police chief, the devastating evil monk and all.
Iron Monkey is essentially a film about the legendary Shaolin kung-fu master (also known as drunken master) Wong Fei-hung when he was young. In fact, the alternate title is "Siunin Wong Fei-hung tsi titmalau," literally: Young Wong Fei-hung's iron monkey.
Follow this up with Jet Li's "Once Upon A Time In China 2" ("Wong Fei-hung ji yi: Naam yi dong ji keung" 1992, literally: Wong Fei-hung #2 - young man should be self-sufficiently strong) and the adult Wong Fei-hung portrayal will be better understood: why he's so good at his knowledge and practice of Chinese medicine, why he acted so restrained and coy with Aunt Yee, whom he very much loves but won't express so - all due to the austere teachings from his father as noted in "Iron Monkey." We also learn that he lost his mother at a tender young age - though from Jackie Chan's "The Legend of Drunken Master" (2000 USA, "Jui Kuen 2" 1994, literally: Drunken fist 2), we can see he has quite a wonderful stepmother - smart and wittily portrayed by Anita Mui! See it if you want another excitingly fun, martial arts action-packed drama about the adult Wong Fei-hung.
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