The flying fighters in IRON MONKEY (SIUNIN WONG FEI-HUNG TSI TITMALAU) can leap
two-story buildings in a single bound. If this death by twirling sounds
familiar, it should. IRON MONKEY, a movie almost a decade old, is being
re-released to U.S. theaters in order to ride on the coattails of last year's
kung fu smash hit, CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON, since Yuen Woo-ping
choreographed the kung fu sequences for both films. It might be pointed out
that few people, if any, actually die in IRON MONKEY although much pain is
inflicted. It's also a PG-13 movie that pushes the limits of blood acceptable
in a film not rated R.
The basic plot concerns a Zorro-like masked legend who fights for the poor and
leaves behind a picture of a monkey rather than a "Z." The evil and corrupt
government tries to apprehend him. Rongguang Yu plays the Iron Monkey, also
known as Dr. Yang. Jean Wang plays his fighting companion, Miss Orchid. The
governor imprisons the son (Tsang Sze-Man) of kung fu warrior Kei-Ying Wong
(Donnie Yen) so that Wong will agree to attempt to capture the Iron Monkey.
Although the fights are performed with great technical proficiency, they are
quite repetitious. Still, they are the best parts of the movie. The rest is
slapstick that is overacted with a vengeance. Many people find this brand of
silliness funny, but I am not one of them. On their own, the characters are
kind of endearing, but the minimal plot gives them little to do but leap about.
I found the film completely forgettable. Still, if you're a fan of this genre,
you probably already have this movie on your don't miss list. I hope you enjoy
it. I tried, but I couldn't.
IRON MONKEY runs too long even at 1:25. The film is in Cantonese dubbed into
Mandarin -- or perhaps it's the other way around -- with English subtitles. It
is rated PG-13 for "martial arts action/violence and brief sexuality" and would
be acceptable for kids around 12 and up.
My son Jeffrey, age 12, who was pretty bored by the movie, gave it just * 1/2.
He thought the action was creative, but he had problems with most of the rest of
the movie from the thin plot to the fact that unrealistically (almost) no one
Copyright © 2001 Steve Rhodes