You may be surprised to hear that I had never seen IRON MONKEY (1993) until now. I rented it many years ago but it turned out to be some Miramax dubbed and chopped version, so I decided to hold off, and I guess I got sidetracked. Now, upon the occasion of a new blu-ray release, I finally watched it. So I’m happy to be the last to tell you this is a straight up martial arts classic!
It’s directed by Yuen Woo-ping (he followed it with TAI CHI MASTER and WING CHUN – that’s a hell of a trilogy!) and written and produced by the prolific Tsui Hark. I could also say “the visionary Tsui Hark” or “the lovable weirdo Tsui Hark,” but I said “prolific” this time because THE EAST IS RED and ONCE UPON A TIME IN CHINA IV (which he wrote) and ONCE UPON A TIME IN CHINA III and GREEN SNAKE (which he wrote and directed) all came out that same year.
The titular Iron Monkey (Yu Rongguang, TSUI HARK’S VAMPIRE HUNTERS) is a Zorro-meets-Robin-Hood-meets-kung-fu folk hero known for leaping around on rooftops at night, stealing the ill-gotten gains of corrupt government officials, and leaving his loot as gifts for refugees and the poor. Our story begins with the authorities battening down the hatches to catch Iron Monkey if he comes for the new governor (James Wong, TIGER ON BEAT), who is cowering in a bed with his mistress (Cheung Fung-lei) and a net set up for protection. But Iron Monkey flips in in his black costume and gaiter and defeats the guards and Shaolin monks guarding the governor. (He either implies the monks are imposters or sell outs, I’m not sure which.) He gets the gold and escapes through the ceiling. Don’t fuck with Iron Monkey. (read the rest of this shit…)