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Iron Monkey (HK 1993)

Director : Yuen Woo-Ping
Producer : Tsui Hark
Action Choreography : Yuen Woo-Ping
Cast :  Donnie Yen, Yu Rong Guang, James Wong, Tsang Tze-Man, Jean Wang

When a mysterious figure starts stealing from the rich and giving to the poor in a small town, the corrupt governor decides to hunt him down. Anyone suspected of being the Iron Monkey is jailed (or worse). Wong Kay-Ying (Donnie Yen) and his son, Wong Fei-Hung, arrive in town and – after getting into a fight – they are arrested under suspicion of being the Iron Monkey. The governor recognises Wong Kay-Yings fighting skills and keeps his son locked up unless he agrees to try to capture the outlaw.

by Martin Cleary

Iron Monkey is a classic film. It’s one of those films which has just the right mix of good story, nice sense of humour, great performances, and – of course – loads of brilliant action scenes.
The story is strong enough to hold several sub-plots (concerning the real identity of the Iron Monkey, the secret history of the Monkey’s assistant, and the increasing frustrations of the governor) and manages not slow down the main action. It’s not difficult to guess who the Monkey is and the film reveals this early on so it can concentrate on all of the martial arts fun. Donnie Yen gives one of his best performances as Wong Kay-Ying, showing restraint as the conservative father-figure, but then managing to kick some ass in some amazing extended fight scenes. Yu Rong Guang also gives a very strong performance as the local doctor – the man whose life is turned upside down. It’s a shame that Yu Rong Guang hasn’t played more roles like this since. One of the characters in the film is Wong Fei-Hung – the character played by Jet Li in the Once Upon A Time In China films – but as a boy. This makes the film a sort of prequel to the Tsui Hark series, yet it doesn’t focus solely on that character. This is a good thing as there are some nice little Wong Fei-Hung moments – it’s difficult not to get excited when the theme tune kicks in during a fight scene. [Don’t tell anyone, but Fei-Hung is played here by a girl. You won’t notice though as her martial arts ability is amazing, especially when you consider her young age] So how good are the action scenes? Well, they’re pretty amazing and there’s plenty of them. They’re well paced as well so there’s not one big fight at the start of the film and then one big fight at the end, instead there’s a nice steady flow of fights from the first couple of minutes in which build up all the way to the end. It’s not a film that you’ll feel bored watching. The only slight negative to this is Yuen Woo-Pings tendency to speed up the camera (mainly when showing Wong Kay-Ying’s ‘No Shadow’ kick) but – hey – that’s a tiny complaint when the film is this good. Classic.

Plot : 4/5
Acting : 3/5
Entertainment : 5/5
Overall : 4/5

Notable Scenes
- Donnie Yen’s amazing kicking skills
- Wong Fei-Hung kicks ass
- The climactic fight above fire

Buy this movie at YesAsia – Iron Monkey

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