Kung Fu Monkey Shines
Release Date: October 12, 2001
Starring: James Wong, Donnie Yen,
Sze-Man Tsang, & Jean Wang
Audience: Teenagers & adults
Runtime: 87 minutes
Distributor: Miramax Films/Disney
Director: Yuen Wo Ping
Executive Producer: Raymond Chow & Wang Ying
Producer: Tsui Hark
Writer: Tsui Hark, Elsa Tang & Lau Tai
Address Comments To:Bob & Harvey Weinstein
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West Hollywood, CA 90069
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The local Governor is a buffoon who employs a police chief named Fox and several “dishonored” monks to capture The Iron Monkey. A stranger named Wong Kei-Ying and his young teenage son come to town for business, only to be swept up and wrongly accused in the manhunt for The Iron Monkey. Through several twists, the son of Kei-Ying is to be held prisoner until Kei-Ying helps capture the Iron Monkey. Kei-Ying is the master of the famed “Shadow Kick.” Dr. Yang rescues the boy from prison, becomes friends with Kei-Ying, and impersonates an Imperial “big wig” to steal more money. Soon the real big wig comes and takes over, ousting the governor. He is revealed to be an ex-Shaulin Monk who is skilled with several nasty forms of Kung Fu, including a deadly, poison striking hand move.
Made in Hong Kong and subtitled, IRON MONKEY has many similarities to CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON. If you are a fan of Hong Kong Kung Fu movies, this one is a “must see,” though caution is recommended due to the violence and immorality. Apparently, IRON MONKEY predates CROUCHING TIGER HIDDEN DRAGON but is just now being released to American audiences.
The reason for the resemblance between the two movies is the master workmanship of choreographer and Director Yuen Wo Ping, who was involved in the making of CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON and the action sequences in THE MATRIX. The hero of our story resembles Chow Yun Fat, the hero of CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON, and both movies show a pretty “love interest” without any overt displays of affection. In this movie, like the other, almost every character can break all the rules of gravity, inertia and centrifugal force. There is lots of running about on the roofs of buildings, and there is even an ugly Kung-Fu witch - just like the one in CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON.
With typical Kung-Fu overacting and corny attempts at humor, IRON MONKEY makes up for acting in what it delivers in action. Never has there been so much broken pottery and furniture than in IRON MONKEY. There is little bloodshed compared to most American films, but this movie is definitely not suitable for children.
The movie shows a father who is too strict on his son, striking him on the head, but later he becomes gentle and affectionate. There is no real nudity or any sex scenes, though the governor plays games with his nine wives (all dressed) under a big blanket.
In summary, THE IRON MONKEY is a good Kung Fu film, made in Hong Kong, which delivers the goods to fans. However, if you really want to see a beautifully made Kung Fu movie, rent CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON.
As with all Kung Fu movies, however, the big caution, besides violence, is that it showcases great power without revealing the source of that power. Clearly, the source is a false religion, or a false god. The protagonists often have their training and their bodies as their gods, but the villains they fight have this same training, so there is no clear edge. In addition, despite a lifetime of discipline and training, and despite some great combat opportunities, many of the Kung Fu participants end up betrayed or dead, and thus, there is no lasting victory. Such is the dark end of all whose life purpose is outside the realm of the One True God.
Similar to CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON, this movie is laden with the typical Kung Fu physical violence. Both movies show characters that can break all the rules of gravity, inertia and centrifugal force. There is lots of running about on the roofs of buildings, and there is even an ugly Kung-Fu witch – just like the one in CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON. Caution should be exercised with this film, due to violence and the allusion to power from a false spiritual system