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Yuen Woo-ping is quite possibly the best fight choreographer in the history of martial arts cinema. His amazing talents can be seen in everything from Tsui Harks epic Once Upon a Time in China series, through to the Wachowski Brothers effects heavy throwback to eastern cinema The Matrix trilogy. In fact he has had a major impact on nearly every major martial arts film to come out in the last 30 years. It's hardly surprising then that whenever he takes the directors chair he manages to produce a film that leans almost exclusively toward the martial arts end of the spectrum. Iron Monkey is one such example. Iron Monkey itself is a sort of prequel to the Once Upon A Time In China films. Those films portrayed Chinese folk hero Wong Fei Hung; a character with over 200 films to his name, as a sort of kung fu fighting Robin Hood figure. Iron Monkey goes into his childhood and examines the figures in his life that influenced both his amazing martial arts prowess, and his strong moral values. It's set in a small Chinese village that is being ruled over by the corrupt Governor Cheng. This particular official is charging the towns poor residents extortionate taxes without care for the fact that they can't afford them. The peoples only hope lies in Dr. Yang; a kind hearted physician that by day heals the ills of the people without charge, but by night puts on a black mask and becomes the feared bandit Iron Monkey; robbing the spoils from the rich and returning them to the poor. (In case you hadn't realized, the nudges to Robin Hood are much more blatant in Iron Monkey) Cheng decides to arrest as many people as possible in an effort to draw out Iron Monkey, but what he doesn't realize is that one of the men arrested is famous fighter & #87;ong Kei-Ying who is visiting the village with his young son Wong Fei-Hung. Chang decides to use Kei-Ying to bring Iron Monkey to justice, but has Fei-Hung imprisoned in order to ensure his loyalty. It's a fairly simple story really, but therein lies it's appeal. Iron Monkey is not a film that attempts to go into any multi genre areas. It doesn't try to tell a complex story like those used in Once Upon A Time In China, or Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. It has no need for the breathtaking cinematography, nor strong characters, because Iron Monkey is unashamedly a martial arts movie. It does well enough in those areas; its cinematography being more sedate than the average chop socky flick, its characters having an emotional depth to them that the average Bruce Lee film couldn't boast. It's just that it's not overly worried by those areas, and so those that perhaps found the other films to drag should definitely give Iron Monkey a quick glance. Like I said, this is all really down to Yuen Woo-ping, whose knowledge of martial arts movies is near unmatched. While his visual style is not up to Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon's high standards, it is still better than the stuff used throughout most of the martial arts cinema. He manages to avoid the hyperactive editing used by most directors, instead lingering on a shot just long enough to allow his choreography to impact in the correct ways. Sometimes this may be a slower moment; such as one scene where Dr. Yang catches his falling papers, that comes across as a beautiful ballet of emotion. It's in the actual fights that he really shines though. This is never better illustrated than in the first battle between Iron Monkey and Wong Kei-Ying that comes across as an epic dance off between 2 equally talented opponents. It just has so much grace; so much beauty, that you can't help but be impressed by the skill being displayed both in front and behind the camera. Acting wise the film is fine. Like I said the emotional depth of the characters is much better than an average martial arts film, and the cast is one of the main reasons for this. Rongguang Yu (Green Hornet ); who plays Dr. Yang, has a charisma and sense of sincerity that could rival Jet Li, while his chemistry with Jean Wang (Once Upon A Time In china IV); who plays his assistant, results in some of the films more tender moments. Donnie Yen (Hero) adds both an authoritative nobility and a funny sympathy to Wong Fei Hung's father and mentor Wong Kei-Ying. James Wong (A Chinese Ghost Story: Animation) displays some perfect comic timing in his portrayal as the hilariously arrogant Governor. It's just Sze-Man Tsang that lets the side down. This newcomers portrayal of Wong Fei Hung is fine in getting across the childish nature of the child version of a future noble leader; he does amazing in the fight sequences too. It's just that the emotion is lacking in his performance and as such prevents his scenes from being more than the sum of their parts. That's fine though because the acting in Iron Monkey is simply a bonus. It's a well made martial arts film where the technicalities impress without taking too much attention, and as such it is the single greatest martial arts film in history; at least out of the ones that I've seen anyway.
Now that, my friends, is the best line to come out of any dubbed movie ever. Iron Monkey is referred to very often as "Robin hood in ancient Hong Kong". Which is quite an accurate analogy. Iron Monkey is a mysterious chappy that steals from the rich, mainly the greedy govenor, and gives it to the poor peasants of the village. The govenor decrees that everything and everyone linked to monkeys is arrested. When a father protects his son from thugs, the police suspect him of being the Iron Monkey and arrest them both. The father, Wong Fei Hung, strikes a deal, to catch the Iron Monkey, in exchange for everyones freedom. The deal is accepted, but Fei Hung's son is kept prisoner, to ensure success. Now this film has some wonderful, reality bending fight scenes. Superbly done with wires and harnesses, but pulled off in such away, that the wire work looks believeable. Look out for the "Chinese pole fight", truly is remarkable. What else would you expect from director Yuen Woo Ping? Features on this Hong Kong Legends DVD - Digitally re-mastered and restored DVD transfer. 16:9 Anamorphic version enhanced for widescreen TVs. Animated Biography Showcase (Yuen Woo-ping and Donnie Yen). Dual Language Format (English Dubbed and Cantonese Language with re-mastered English subtitles). AC3 5:1 Digital Audio. Production Photo Gallery. Interview Gallery with leading man Donnie Yen and director Yuen Woo-ping. Original Theatrical Trailer. UK Promotional Trailer. Fully Animated Menus.
If you are anything like me and your knowledge of martial arts movies extends to something along the lines of "well there's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and umm didn't Bruce Lee do some once..." then you'll never have heard of Iron Monkey - nor will you have had any interest in checking it out. You will however be missing one of the most entertaining movies released in recent years which I'm sure you will agree is something of a shame. It was originally released in 1993, straight to video but has recently made a reappearance thanks to the success of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, a movie which director Yeun Wo Ping did the choreography for - a fact which will come as no surprise at all after a few minutes of watching Iron Monkey. For martial arts fans that alone ought to be enough of an incentive to watch - for the rest of us who like action movies know also that his work can also be seen on The Matrix and rest assured that this adrenaline fuelled kung-fu fest is more than enough to keep you glued to your TV. Its not brilliant in terms of plot, hilariously bad in terms of scripting but this is more than made up for by the superb action sequences. Buy this video for pure entertainment value and you'll love every second of it. The plot is weak, they invariably are. The story opens in the province of Zhejiang, a province ruled by a corrupt governor who is spending his time in office stockpiling food meant for the people so that he can sell it at inflated prices for a huge profit. The people are starving but fortunately there is help at hand from a seemingly invincible Robin Hood type figure known as the Iron Monkey - a vigilante who carries out daring raids upon the governors buildings, taking back that what he has stolen from the people and sharing it out amongst the needy. The Iron Monkey's martial arts abilities are awesome and no one has yet been able to come close to matching him in combat to the point where the gover nor is getting desperate. He orders a crack down on anyone at all who could possibly be his nemesis - his guards arresting a street artist with a monkey, a performer showing off his martial arts skills...a guy selling monkey turds(?!)...and a traveller called Wong Kei-ying and his 10-year old son Wong Fei-hong after they go medieval on some thieves. Naturally upon hearing that innocent people have been imprisoned for his actions the Iron Monkey turns up to free them but Wong Kei-ying(being from out of town) thinks he is nothing but a common thief and being a fighter of much renown himself fights him off, promising to bring him to justice if the governor will free his son... ...which is how the movie sets up the plot in the opening 10-15 minutes and you'll just have to watch to see the rest. Expect though not too much more in the way of plotting other than the arrival of a bunch of corrupt Shaolin monks and the rest is just action, action and more action - great stuff. If you watch a lot of these types of movies then you might recognise the name of Wong Fei-hong as being that of a folk lore hero seen in other movies by this director such as Once Upon A Time in China and Drunken Master - Iron Monkey continuing his attempts to revive this figure although here most of that action is given to his father Wong Kei-ying and of course the Iron Monkey himself. Played by female martial arts champion Tsang Tse-man, the best scene in the movie is reserved for him though where he(she) fights off a gang of local bullies. Its an interesting casting decision(girl playing a boy) but not one which was done simply to be controversial. Forget the script, its awful to the point where I would probably recommend that you check out the undubbed version over the dubbed or subtitled version. I saw the dubbed version and the dubbing as just as awful as the kind of dubbed martial arts movies that have become the brunt of jokes for many years - willowy oriental characters talking in deep macho ultra-American voices does nothing for any movie and certainly doesn't add credibility to an already lame script. Characters announce their moves before they use them with bass cries of "Shaolin Golden Palm!" or "Shadow Kick of the Ancients!" or umm "Flying Sleeves!" and the attempts at humorous exchanges are funny only because of how clumsy and inept the are. Of course, if you like this kind of movie then you'll be used to it, or it'll be one of their many charms...personally it made me giggle as it always does, but this time I totally let it slide because the action scenes are such fun. One thing that did stand out here for me was the acting which is actually superb...from the principal characters. Putting aside their awesome skills as martial artists for one second(aided by flawless wire-work of course) all of them bring a warm and total credibility to their roles. Won Kei-ying must balance the twin burdens of being a warrior with that of a loving father - two sides which often clash without resolve and he carries off to perfection. The use of Tsang Tse-man then becomes much clearer because putting a girl in this role affects a much softer performance and draws out much more emotions from both these characters which is highly effective. Yu Rong-guang balances his role of caring physician alter ego Dr. Wang against that of deadly martial artist Iron Monkey, switching between the two seamlessly, whilst Jean Wang who plays his assistant Orchid is equally faultless in her role. The acting is actually top notch which surprised me no end I have to admit. Ummm...the acting of the 4 principal characters is top notch anyway, because the rest are all comedic figures and charicatures - their clumsiness and naff acting actually(and no doubt intentionally) highlighting the grace and nobility of the good characters in the plot. Its seems bizarre to say that cr*p acting actually helps a movie - but it he lps this one in some strange way! The main focus of this movie though is action. Its almost non-stop, and its awesome. The martial arts on display here is simply mindblowing, aided and abetted of course by a little(or a lot) of wire-work at times, although you wouldn't know it to look at it. I'll not spoil the scenes by talking of them beforehand, but expect a range of fisticuffs experiences as well as fighting with swords, staffs and just about any kind of random piece of furniture, all beautifully choreographed and executed to perfection. This may not look and feel quite so polished as Crouching Tiger or The Matrix, but it more than makes up for it in terms of raw energy and sheer exuberance. Its breath-taking stuff trust me, which has lead many to talk of this as being well up in the top ten greatest martial arts movies ever made. Leaves you wondering why you have never heard of it before doesn't it... Its difficult to know whether or not to recommend a movie such as this or not. If you like martial arts movies then no doubt it has already raised some interest already, if not then you'll be understandably more dubious. I can't say I am a fan of the genre but I fancied something full of action and someone told me this had Jet Li in at so I gave it a try and loved it. No Jet Li of course(can't rely on some people!) but a superb movies nonetheless - in fact, perhaps better than if he were in it, these are certainly more talented actors anyway. I suppose he bottom line is that if you are looking for an incredibly entertaining action movie then this is one of the finest examples you are going to come across. No big explosions and such like, but the kind of fight sequences and physical stunt set-pieces which leave you gawping open-mouthed in amazement instead...and a dollop of humour thrown in for good measure as well. I can't recommend it highly enough - and that come from someone who is NOT a huge fan of the genre. Grea t stuff! The Iron Monkey aka. Siunin Wong Fei-hung tsi titmalau Iron Monkey (2001) (USA) Iron Monkey: The Young Wong Fei Hong (1993) Shao nian Huang Fei-Hong zhi tie ma liu (1993) (Hong Kong: Mandarin title) Note: NOT to be confused with "Ti Ma Liu" (aka The Iron Monkey/Bloody Monkey Master) which is another martial arts movie from 1977. Also Note: Don't you just love how all these types of movies get confused? This is a review of the 1993 movie 'Iron Monkey' which has recently been re-released after the success of "The Matrix" and "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" which its director choreographed the fight scenes for. Yes it says "Iron Monkey (1977)" up there somewhere, but seeing as the other 5 reviews in this section are on the '93 version(remarking how fresh and modern it looks for such an old movie hehe), and the picture is from the '93 movie as well I figured what needs changing is the date - not the reviews.
What is Iron Monkey, or Siunin Wong Fei-hung tsi titmalau (original title). Well in my humble opinion, it is one of the best martial arts films ever made! (But I’ve never heard of it I hear you say) OK it is the best, most understated martial arts movie of all time. It’s hip at the moment to have Yuen Woo Ping as your action director or even fight co-ordinator, but is a “proper” director in his own right, and a damn good one too. The story is a Robin Hood type story, based in myths and legends of the late Ching dynasty. A distinguished doctor, Dr. Yang is a upright member of the community by day and then the Iron Monkey my night, robbing from the rich and giving to the poor. A travelling physician, Wong Kei-Ying is convinced to help capture the “Iron Monkey”, after his son is imprisoned by the corrupt Local Governor. This leads to fantastic and some-what elaborate fight sequences, which all have the inevitable Woo-Ping touch. (As seen in Matrix, Charles Angels and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) The town is run by the above mentioned corrupt governor, who the Iron Monkey takes great pleasure in humiliating at every possible chance. When the Governor is about to be visited by a government auditor , the Iron Monkey gets there first and Cons the Governor. When the real auditor arrives and the auditor finds out what has happened he searches for the Iron Monkey. This is a very sensitive plot part (so I will be particularly vague here). It was originally made in 1993, but has only become well known (ish), since Woo-Ping has done the action sequences in the major Hollywood Blockbusters. How did I find out about this little gem? Well I have watched Charlie’s Angels, McG, or should I say Woo-Ping used moves directly from Iron Monkey, and the bit where Drew Barrymore says “King Kong Palm” is taken straight from the script. It was mentioned several tomes in the directors commentary, so I thought got to see it. Glad I did. Starring Donnie Yen Directed by Chen Kwan Tai Yuen Woo Ping Duration 86 mins Classification 12
Iron Monkey, the martial arts movie just released in the US, impressed even myself. I'm not a fan of such films, but the cinematography was amazing. The colors and textures blended well. The movie also perfectly blends humor with action. Humor is placed into the right places including in some of the fight scenes. For example, the Iron Monkey fights the Ugly Virgin. While they fight, he tells her that she may be ugly, but she's no virgin. Things like this continue to amuse throughout. Also, the choreography of the fight scenes is superb. The flipping and jumping while in corporating kung fu almost gives the illusion of flying. The fighters appear to float across the screen and over the roofs of buildings. Yet, the movie was filled with action. The only real negative was the extended fight scene at the end of the movie. The men fight on top of wooden poles. The fight scene lasts about 10 minutes despite the fact that the poles are buring. This disturbed me. I felt it was probably the worst part of the movie as you could predict exactly what was going to happen; otherwise, an excellent choice for a night out.
If you liked The Matrix, CTHD, you will love this one. It's Director is Yuen Woo Ping who was the fight choreographer for both CTHD and the Matrix. This assures great martials arts on screen, with the added bonus of real martial artists, such as Donnie Yen (sorry Keanu you just don't cut it... Go enlist yourself in a martial arts schools and comeback say... in about a decade.) The story: Not particulary original... Could be best described as Robin Hood does Kung-Fu in Asia. But then again, you don't see this kind of film for it's plot, do you??? If you do stick with CTHD. The DVD: What can I say... Hong Kong Legends (HKL) are rapidly becoming my favourite distributor. Their releases are always above par, and this is one their best releases. The picture quality is superb, it manages to compete with todays blockbusters and even surpass them sometimes - I believe that it has better picture quality than, for example CTHD. Top marks in this regard. The ratio is 1.85:1 Anamorphic. Unfortunatly the sound is weaker. It really is the achilles heal of this dvd and of all the releases of HKL. It's a pretty decent 5.1 mix (dolby digital) but its nowhere near aproching the levels of picture quality. This applies both to the original (cantonese) track and dubbed english one. This takes us to the dubbing / subtitling of the movie. They're both pretty lousy as far as I can tell (I'm not a cantonese speaker). The subtitles for the most part do no coincide with what's being said in the english track. This is not only a problem of words... they sometimes differ in the message they try to convey. But as this is not a story driven film (heck you could enjoy the film even with the original track on without subtitles, this adds to the fun... It's kinda like plan 9 from outer space... it's so bad it's good!!! (fun, at least) The extras: They are: - a Photo Gallery of st ills from the film, - the UK Promotional Trailer, - the original Theatrical Trailer, - further attractions for other Hong Kong Legends titles. - animated biographies for Yuen Woo Ping and Donnie Yen. - new Interview specifically for the disc with Donnie Yen - interview with Yuen Woo Ping What can I say more... This is a excelent movie that will stand repeated viewings, especially if seen with a group of friends and with both the english soundtrack and subtitles enabled!
During my usual time killing trawl through Woolworths on Saturday I came across a pile of DVD’s that were heavily reduced in price due to missing cover labels. One such disc was ‘Iron Monkey’ – reduced from £20 to just £8. Now, sadly for me if it’s cheap I’ll buy anything, so without much thought I grabbed a copy and made my way to the counter to stump up the cash! Iron Monkey tells the tale of a legendary hero who fights against the corrupt local politicians in the late Ching dynasty to give to the poor, so basically it’s a Robin Hood kind of story we’re getting here. During the day Iron Monkey is a doctor who helps the sick and injured, by night he dishes out his own type of medicine! Through a series of events a newcomer to town has to bring an end to Iron Monkeys exploits in order to have his son released from prison. This stranger is torn though, he is desperate to free his son from his captors, but he also understands the just in Iron Monkeys cause. Through a series of confrontations the two eventually come to understand one another and an alliance is born. The plot of course is just an excuse to see some excellent fight choreography take place – if the style looks familiar to you then chances are you’ve seen ‘Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon’ and to a lesser extent ‘The Matrix’. In the movie there is a lot of wire work used here, with people flying about the screen left right and centre, for me this began to grate a bit after a while though and kind of spoiled my enjoyment of it all I’m afraid. Another negative point is the way in which many of the fight scenes are sped-up, another slightly annoying feature I’m afraid. I think however that my review may be slightly biased. I’ve no real experience of these types of films, and to be honest if it hadn’t been massively discounted then I probably wouldn ’t have bought the disc. Once you get used to the style of film though, you enjoy it a lot more I think. A distributor called Hong Kong Legends released Iron Monkey. Like Criterion this distributor is fast gaining a reputation for bringing out quality releases in terms of picture and sound as well as extras. The video quality is exceptional to be fair, with some great scenes delivered during the fight scenes as well as the haunting imagery that is often shown during the quieter moments. Sound wise we get a couple of soundtracks (one being the original language choice and the other a dubbed English audio track) The English audio track for the most part was OK, but I preferred to switch back to the Chinese language track and display English subtitles instead. The 5.1 Digital track delivers an impressive performance however, with a great musical score as well as the sound of crunching limbs coming across with a real clarity. As I mentioned, Hong Kong Legends often include a decent variety of extras on their discs, and this title is no exception. Not only do we get a series of interviews with the cast and director, there are the usual trailers and biographies of the principal players included too. The other features are a trailer for the film and a showcase of other titles that Hong Kong Legends are releasing too, so there may be something else that catches your eye here! One other gripe would have to be the animated menus’. They look gorgeous with a great musical score, but they contain some of the best scenes of the film - a bit of a spoiler for someone who might not have seen the movie before. Being a relative newcomer to this genre of film, I think I’m more than impressed. Yes, it does take a long time to get used to this style of filming, but it has a good plot, terrific choreography and some solid performances ensure a great action movie. I probably wouldn’t have bought this m ovie at the RRP of 19.99 though, but as usual, shopping around can often find a bargain, so keep an eye out. If you find it at a reasonable price then I’d highly recommend you take a look.
Ok to be rather honest the DVD I have is from HK rather than the UK release, I couldn?t wait for it to be released as my video copy is wearing out. The UK DVD has the following: Animated biography showcase (Yuen Woo-ping and Donnie Yen), Production photo gallery, Interview gallery with leading man Donnie Yen and director Yuen Woo-ping, Original theatrical trailer, UK promotional trailer, Fully animated menus, Dual language format (English dubbed and Cantonese with remastered English subtitles). Anamorphic Widescreen, Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Note don?t confuse this version with the older one made in the 1970s, that is watchable but no way as good. The Film ------------ Set in the late Ching dynasty, director Yuen Woo-ping (Matrix, Crouching Tiger) yes him, directs with his usual trademarks of incredible dynamic, high-flying fight action and stunning cinematography with a classic story of courage, honour and sacrifice. The Chinese title tells the story of the Martial Art legend of Wong Fei Hung ( actually played a girl!) in his early days. Donnie Yen (Once Upon A Time In China 2 and drunken Tai Chi) plays his father also no martial art walk over. Yu Rong Kwong (Shanghai Noon, Project S,) who is the elder martial arts brother of Jet Li and arguably just as tough, give breathtaking performances as two legendary warriors who must put their lives on the line to defeat the barbaric excesses of an increasing corrupt political regime which ultimately led to the Ching dynasty downfall, and a kind of Robin Hood story. Making judicious use of low-key lighting, high contrast colour combinations and a haunting soundtrack, director Yuen Woo-ping creates a unique visual tapestry and captures a mood, which is gently romantic and yet emotionally charged. As usual the fight scenes are very well choreographed and original and enervating, possessing a relentless kinetic energy and strong emotional underscoring, which lifts it well be yond traditional martial arts action. There are enough comical scenes that helps carries the film through some of the darker scenes of human suffering. Fans of Yuen Woo-ping?s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, will not be disappointed, Iron Monkey is more of a true Chinese Martial arts epic than the fore mentioned. In ways it matches John Woo?s character creations, of loyalty and blood bonding. The plot may be weak compared to Crouching Tiger, but it is much more faster pace and requires less brain power to watch. Overall the star of the show is the young actress who plays the young Wong Fei Hung. It is hard to imagine that she is a girl as she simply kicks butt. As she puts it (I can?t do better myself) I may be small and young but I can handle myself, if you want to fight an older guy then you?ll have to wait for me to grow older! For a cinematic debut her performance is simply stunning and she should do well. This much unknown film is an excellent example from the rather overcrowded genre and deserves to be watched by a much larger audience. So dim the lights order a Chinese and watch it. You?ll watch again to see some of the excellent fight scenes alone!! Now what are you waiting for.
This film came to my attention only recently with the advert stating "From the creators of "The Matrix" and "Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon" comes "Iron Monkey!" . Hold on. How come I've never heard of this? Next thing I know is that my brothers bought it on the special digitally remastered DVD version . Well I wasn't just going to sit there and look at the box , I immediatley stuck it in the machine. "Iron Monkey" was originally released in 1977 so its no wonder I'd never heard of it. The films plot is fairly basic but brilliant none the less. Government Officer Che'ung is corrupt and wasting all of the peasant's money and the people are starving in the streets. Even the "police" are corrupt . People even turn to stealing to try and make a living. We are then introduced the character of Dr Yang who is treating to the flood disaster victims in his clinic along with his assistant Miss Orchid and is giveing out free medicine to the needy but charging the rich huge amounts for pharmaceuticals. The town seems to be in a desparate state but dont worry , there is hope! Enter Iron Monkey , a masked clad-in-black robin hood-esque character , saviour to the peasants , annoyance to the corrupt , and no prizes for guessing who it is. Then who enters into the town but Wong Kei Ying and his son Fei-Yung get caught up in Iron Monkeys exploits but is not aware of Iron Monkeys alignment and wants to capture him , even though he is friends with his alter-ego Dr Yang . From there the story continues on with fantastic scenes involving the majority of the characters , most of which are a sight to see. From the start the film kicks off with Iron Monkey taking on all the royal guards and four shaolin monks (and winning of course) . And dont think these fight scenes obey the proper rules of gravity either. Nope , but with that in mind the film gets a certain comic , even s lapstick element . Its hard not to start cackling when the evil government inspector called Hin Hung (whose evil background is that he burnt down Wong Kei Yings former shaolin temple) starts fighting with the quote , "No one can beat my Shaolin King Kong Palm!" , or the way Wong Kei Ying beats up a load of pedestrians with his umbrella. Saying any more would probably spoil it , but the fight sequences can in no way be expressed in words , they have to be seen to be believed. Speaking in terms of the film score , I have to say I was disappointed , there seems to be only one tune to each fight scene . The photography is by no means a patch on Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragons" panoramic scenes as mostly the film seems to take place indoors aswell . But then again it was filmed in the seventies and it has been brilliantly touched up for the DVD version , the colours of the characters look vibrant aswell as the backgrounds looking modern aswell. The plot is fairly basic , but enjoyable . There is a touching scene between Wong Kei Ying and his son which may bring a tear to the eye but dont worry , you'll be either on the edge of you seat or laughing at the fight scenes soon after. As with any Kung-Fu film it builds up to a dramatic end fight which lasts for about four whole scenes in which nearly everybody gets involved. The DVD is brilliant , you can choose all sorts of features like narrated actors backgrounds , set description and interviews with the director and production staff. Whats also brilliant , if crucial about the DVD is that you can choose between English/Cantonese language and subtitles. Take my advice , always watch ANY cantonese film in Cantonese with subtitles . In the English version you get corny american voice-overs doing bad translations. The subtitles make more sense and dont distract from the action. If you really want to laugh put on the english language with the subtitles in english a nd see how bad the language is translated and often missed in a lot of places. I thoroughly enjoyed this film , great action with some great laughs and astounding work by the characters with the action sequences.
Iron monkey is another of the Hong Kong Legends DVD?s that has received the complete reworks. Originally released in 1977, this film was another huge smash in Hong Kong, and rightly so. Telling the brilliant story of an eastern version of Robin Hood, iron monkey focuses around a single corrupt governor, exploiting his people for his own gain, and generally an all round bad guy. Unwilling to endure this, the Iron monkey decides to balance things out, but conducting his business, the process of robbing the right (and corrupt, underhand and any other member of society that are morally looked down upon) and handing it to the needy. In a desperate attempt to catch the thief, the governor decides he should take out anyone with the ability to fight in remotely the same way as this fastly becoming legendary Iron monkey. To add to the already invigorating plot, onto the scene comes Wong Kei Ying and his disciple, wrongly believing the Iron Monkey is the villain in the sporty and should be stopped. This soon changes when a new villain hits town, with a new style of fighting and terrorising all! While some have criticised this film for having a thing plot, I do not believe so, and found it to be imaginative and highly original, something of standard setter. What no-one will argue about his film though is that this features some of the most explosive and adrenaline pumping martial arts weapon actions ever seen. Every fighting style is involved, martial arts in its true form, weapons battles combat and even bare fist fighting are finely portrayed in the superb action flick that deserved all the praise it wins. Closely knit to the massively more popular and far wider known ONCE UPON A TIME IN CHINA, the lead characters even share the same name, and while OUTIC is widely regarded as one of the best far east martial arts movies ever, I would go as far as to say this is even better, certainly in terms of the fighting involved. As with all other martial arts movies, this film also has a large amount of comedy in it, although not as much as some others. Mainly due to the sheer number of non stop action scenes involved, there isn?t much time for comedy! THE DVD Hong Kong Legends, as stated in my Drunken masters review are becoming the best region 2 distributor by some distance, and this release goes further then any other to describe why. How on earth the re-mastering process can be conducted to a level as high as this I will never know, as to say this film looks better than the day it was released is not doing this film justice. Astoundingly good, this film is presented in a mid bogglingly beautify Anamorphic widescreen picture, with an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and looks nigh on perfect in every respect. The picture is sharp on all front, the detail is sublime, and the colour is absolutely perfect. At no time during the film can I recall anything other then pure clarity, with no disturbance or artists hindering this beautiful release. The action moves at an astonishing rate, and considering the age of the film and the sheer work that must have been involved, it would seem understandable and acceptable should some motion blur or other impurities creep into the print, but in all honestly, it about as perfect as a 25 year old film will ever realistically look. This is about the best re-print I think I have seen, both of this movie, and of all the Hong Kong Legends releases, and whoa, there have been some special releases lately. In terms of audio quality, again HKL have gone all out. A beautiful Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack in the original Cantonese language is very good and full. While the rears are not overly active, there is enough to warrant the labelling of excellent to describe this track. The best moments in this are when the LFE kicks in during the big fight sequences, adding a big bout of Bass (a mouthful that is!) and enhancing the scene even further! Also equipped with a slightly inferior 5.1 English track, my advice would be to stick the Cantonese on, and the English subtitles, then sit back and ENJOY! Extras on the DVD include the following: ? animated biographies ? Photo Gallery of stills from the film ? UK Promotional Trailer ? Original Theatrical Trailer ? Interviews ? LOVELY animated menus ? And more! As you can see, there are plentiful extras for a film of this age, and another notch on the ever increasing reputation of Hong Kong Legends with another timely and wonderful release. I can think of little about this release to criticise, and would whole-heartedly recommend this to anyone who is remotely interested in Hong Kong or action movies. However, a word of warning ? after seeing this film, you will be hooked and left wanting to see more!
Anyone remember the good old days of the Kung Fu movies? Such as the classic title’s 'Drunken Master', and 'Snake in the Monkey shadow'. If you do then you must feel extremely let down with the half hearted attempts of these new age movies that concentrate on fast cars and exotic locations, instead of raw hand to hand combat. In the search of this lost tradition I have rented and watched many films that have half-heartedly tried to step up and receive the new Kung Fu crown. Be it the likes of Jackie Chan and his dodgy 'Rumble in the Bronx', or Jean Claude Van Damme and ‘AWOL’, but these have all been a comical farce in comparison. However, as if mystically sent to me from the Kung Fu Gods above, an answer to my prayers has been delivered. Recently I have been seeing adverts on the Television featuring the highly acclaimed ‘Iron Monkey’ on DVD, fully restored and remastered. The first thing that got my attention was the director, Yuen Woo Ping, the acclaimed fight scene director from ‘The Matrix’; the one film in my opinion that has succeeded in its attempt to recreate the fast paced fighting action that featured in the old greats. The second thing was the actual trailer shown; all I could see was fast paced action and people performing impossible acrobatic manoeuvres with sharp weaponry. So with one swift movement I went to my local DVD retailer and purchased a copy. I sat down last night to watch it and within the first five minutes my jaw had dropped to the ground. Why had I not heard of this film before? The kicks and fists were flying furiously left, right and centre. Ping had even speeded up the fight sequences to give the appearance of fluency and adrenaline pumping speed, which only a true master of Kung Fu can truly achieve. The story revolves around a small Chinese town where there are two classes, the wealthy and, as is always the corollary, the poor. Th e town is controlled by a greedy Governor who taxes the people in order to increase his already vast wealth. The only chance, and saviour that the poor townspeople have is a mysterious hero in black, known only as the Iron Monkey. It is the Iron Monkey’s heroic acts of Kung Fu, and his ability to steal from the rich and give to the poor that makes him the peoples only hope for survival. And yes before you say it this film is basically an old fashioned Kung Fu version of ‘Robin Hood’. Suffice to say that the Governor is not happy with having his treasure stolen from him and then given back to the people he has taxed it from. As a result the Governor tries everything to rid himself from this bain to his pocket. He employs corrupt Shaolin Monk’s to try to stop him, along with his palace guard. But the Monkey’s skills just are too good for them. It is not until a traveller passes through town and gets entangled with the law by mistake that the Governor finds a tool to use against the Monkey. By chance the traveller and the Monkey get involved in a struggle and the Governor sees just how good the traveller can fight. So he imprisons the travellers son as collateral to get him to apprehend the Monkey. What the Governor and the traveller fail to realise is that the Iron Monkey is in fact the highly respected and liked Doctor. And it is not long until the traveller and he become good friends. However, just as things start to get a bit cat and mouse a new threat is introduced to both men. This comes in the form a the deadly Grand Shaolin Monk, a evil corrupted man, whose quest for power lead him to destroy the coveted Shaolin Temple. His Kung Fu is unmatchable, and neither the efforts of the Monkey, or of the Traveller can defeat his destructive ‘Shaolin Wonder Palm’, with which one strike causes poison to the body and then a painful death. In order to defeat him the Monkey and the traveller must combine forces, otherwise they and the town will all be destroyed. The film is amazing, and a true example of a Hong Kong Legend, which is also the name of the distributor, and as a result is a must for any true Kung Fu lovers. The fact that amazed me the most is that the film appeared to be very new, so I expected it to be have made in the mid 90’s. Imagine my shock when I found out that it was actually made in 1977! The film is a year older than me!