Iron Monkey
(Siunin Wong Fei-hung Tsi Titmalau) (1993)
Directed by Woo-ping Yuen

Artistic Value: * * *
Entertainment Value: * * * *

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Synopsis and Analysis
Woo-ping Yuen's Iron Monkey is a typical Kung Fu film with both the faults and the virtues commonly found in such works.

Hiding his identity behind a mask as the Iron Monkey, Yang (Yu Rong-gwong), a physician who also happens to be an expert martial artist, uses his fighting skills to steal money from the wealthy so that he can give it to the poor. He is, however, opposed by a corrupt local official, a wicked monk and his followers, and a decent man who has sworn to capture the Iron Monkey in order to save his own son, who is being held hostage by the official.

As is generally the case in Kung Fu films, the story related in Iron Monkey is little more than a mechanism by means of which the movie's numerous action sequences can be introduced. Fortunately, these scenes are all engaging and exciting. The director most often employs the Wu Xia or Flying Swordsman style of fighting, in which the combatants leap from building to building, fly through the air, and perform various physically impossible feats. He does, however, include a number of sequences featuring more naturalistic styles of fighting, and these are as engaging as are the others.

The movie's other elements, sadly, are not consistent in quality. The sets and costumes used in the film are attractive and do not distract the viewer. Regrettably, the acting in Iron Monkey ranges from mediocre to dreadful, and the script is burdened with incessant juvenile attempts at humor. While such defects mean that the film has little to recommend it other than the fight sequences, these are very frequent and well done. As a martial arts film, Iron Monkey is consistently entertaining, but it is not accomplished as much else.

Review by Keith Allen

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