Legendary martial arts choreographer and director Yuen Woo Ping (Drunken Master, The Matrix, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) continues to amaze and impress with each film he is involved in. Believe me; I couldn’t list them all in this review. Iron Monkey, originally released in 1993, recently became available on Blu Ray from Miramax and I happily gave it a go.
The film opens as Wong Fei Hung (Tsang Sze Man) is being held captive. He is being held because his father Wong Kei Ying(Donnie Yen) has been accused of being the infamous Iron Monkey, a mysterious person who takes from the rich and gives to the needy and poor. He wears a mask and no one has seen his face.
However, a grave mistake has been made. The Iron Monkey is actually Dr. Yang (Yu Rong Guang). Dr. Yang devises a plan to help Fei Hung and Kei Ying to escape. Along with some help Fei Hung and Kei Ying, they set out to right all the wrongs and try to stop the town’s dishonest and greedy governor (James Wong).
Soon, they are in battle with fighters that are able to deploy the deadly Buddha’s Palm technique and the almost unstoppable Flying Sleeves maneuver. All of this leads to an epic battle of good versus evil that will determine if benevolence or wickedness will be the rule of the day.
As I have stated in other reviews of martial arts films, you don’t turn into films like this for complex plots. You turn in to watch masters of martial arts display their craft for 90 minutes. You want to see feet and fists flying in all of that choreographed glory. And, if that is what you are looking for, Iron Monkey delivers the goods.
Yuen Woo-Ping is one of the masters of presenting and choreographing this type of film and he does not disappoint here. Donnie Yen, Tsang Sze Man and Hiu Hing deliver remarkable graceful and powerful physical performances that can’t be missed.
The cinematography by Arthur Wong (Once Upon a Time in China, The 36th Chamber of Shaolin) captures the excitement and movement seamlessly.
Through research I learned that the version of Iron Monkey that was released in the theaters, and the version released on this Blu Ray release, is a cut version from the original. For some reason, it was determined to cut some of the action sequences and comedic sections to shorten the film and appeal to “American” cinematic tastes. I would love to see the original as it is evident, while the film is still enjoyable, that it has been altered from the original director’s cut.
So, while we should be offered the film the way the director intended for the film to be seen, if you like “chop socky”, this is a fine dish of it.
The film is presented in 1080p/AVC encoded widescreen presentation. The overall transfer is respectable and I did notice that the detail level was impressive. There were a few incidents of grain, unfortunately and the black levels leave a bit to be desired.
The English dub of the film is presented in 5.1 Surround DTS HD Master Audio with the original Chinese language track is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. In both instances, the language is crystal clear and mixed well with the ambient sound and soundtrack.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
The film is presented in a standard blu ray amaray case .
An interview with Quentin Tarantino is offered, as well as an interview with Donnie Yen. That is about all in this category
Overall (Not an average) 7/10
The Movie 7/10
The Video 7/10
The Audio 7/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 3/10
Overall (Not an Average) 7/10