Martial Arts Monday #3
Iron Monkey (1993)
Director: Woo-Ping Yuen
Iron Monkey came out in 1993, and I had already seen most of it but never sat and watched it start to finish until now. Sometimes you watch something and just don’t get back to it for whatever reason. It’s certainly held up over the last 23 years plus, though if wire work tends to take you out of fighting films, you’ll have some complaints. The last fight scene of this film in particular is all about wire work and kind of borders on ridiculous, but is still entertaining.
Donnie Yen(Wong Kei-ying) gets top billing but he doesn’t play the main character. That honor goes to Yu Roangguang, as Dr. Yang Tianchun by day, Iron Monkey at night. His assistant Miss Orchid is played by Jean Wang, and Wong Kei-ying’s young son Wong Fei-hung is actually played by a girl, Angie Tsang.
The story takes place around the Ming Dynasty era. Corrupt Governor Cheng Pak-Fong(James Wong), hoards food from the residents of his town and taxes them terribly. We quickly learn that a masked man that the town is calling the “Iron Monkey” is basically their Robin Hood, stealing from the governor and spreading his ill-gotten fortune amongst the townsfolk. The governor wants him captured. The authorities can’t catch him and the townsfolk see him as a hero so they won’t even try. Wong Kei-ying and his son soon arrive in town for their own reasons. After ending up in a skirmish with him, Wong Kei is forced to hunt the Iron Monkey down himself.
Within a few minutes of the movie starting we’re treated to some great fight scenes with wire work mixed in. Like most wire work much of it is pretty obvious. As I mentioned earlier if you’re not a fan(or at least tolerant) of wire work, just go in knowing it’s coming.
There’s plenty of great fight scenes in with a myriad of styles both armed and unarmed. We all know what to expect from Donnie Yen and he delivers here as always. Yu Roangguang(I can type it but it but I can’t say it) is great in his fight scenes and turns in a solid performance. Jean Wang and Angie Tsang both do a great job when they’re on screen whether they’re throwing down or delivering lines.
I highly recommend this film for martial arts fans and general movie buffs alike. Add it to your list along with Kung Fu Killer, Ip Man, and Ip Man 2.
Author’s note: This week’s Martial Arts Monday was a bit later than usual, sorry for the delay.
Iron Monkey comes recommended by Quentin Tarantino. Even if he wasn’t one of my favorite directors, I’d say he made a good choice. He’s also recommended Battle Royale in the past, one of my favorite movies of all-time which, coincidentally, is also on Netflix.