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"Iron Monkey"

Directed by Woo-ping Yuen.
Written by Tai-Muk Yau, Cheung Tan, Pik-yin Tang and Tsui Hark.
Starring Rongguang Yu, Donnie Yen and Jean Wang. 
Release Year:  1993
Review Date:  10/19/01 

Folks--

Ahh, yes:  "Iron Monkey."

You are right, "Iron Monkey" is not the smoothest, sexiest name for a film...but, it does get right to the point.  "Iron Monkey" is about some bad-ass folk hero that is a mild-mannered doctor by day, and 1850s Robin Hood by night.  Whereas Mr. Hood went with a patsy-looking green suit to parade around town in, Iron Monkey always bets on black and so he wears it whenever he goes out to steal from the rich.

And, that's the character, and that is it.  No mention is made of how he achieved his special powers--which include flying around, and the amazing ability to hover off-screen--and the writers must assume that no description is really necessary.  There is some semblance of a plot, but it had to do with some evil governor that sold out at some point and killed Iron Monkey's father, but I believe that something was lost in the translation from Asian film to American film.  Also, it should be noted that this film was actually completed eight years ago, but was just now released in this country.  So, any thoughts you might have that this film ripped off "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" are wrong since "Iron Monkey" came out first.

That being said, I liked "Iron Monkey" a lot.  Like many good martial arts film, the producers know the audience, and they know that audience didn't come to be preached to--they came to see some bad-ass fighting and stuntwork.  "Iron Monkey" delivers on that.  Plus, the movie does a good job of naming all the stances that the fighters use to combat their enemies...so, it is cool to see a character say "Bleeding Dragon Punch!!" and then throw something that looks like a punch that might make you bleed.  This takes place randomly throughout the fight scenes.  And, the fight choreographer does a great job of using different speeds to showcase the action:  some standard Hong Kong double-speed, some slo-mo, some normal speed.  It all works.

And, because all of the characters seem to be able to defy gravity and reality, it all seemed to make sense.  Sometimes, watching immortals fight mortals in "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" made the fighting look a tad silly, since one character could fly over building rooftops, but others just had to sit there and say "Wow!  Look at Shu Lien go!!"

Light and entertaining, and suitable for all.  Check it out!

Rating:  $8.25 Show

 

Comments?  Drop me a line at justin@bellviewmovies.com.

 

Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/bellviewmovies.com except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09