Starring Donnie Yen, Wu Ma, Billy Chow, Chang Jian-Li, Yuen Man-hing, Lee Hoi-hing
Fight Choreography by Yuen Woo Ping
Directed by Chao Lu-Jiang
Iron Monkey is of the best kung fu films, combining a good story with heart and simply amazing fight choreography, and even though I am decidedly NOT a fan of wirework, the work done here is excellent and compliments the action. I was really looking forward to watching Donnie Yen return, as he was so excellent as Wong Kei-Ying.
The film begins as we meet Jade Tiger (Jian-Li) a triad boss who is working with a foreign group to run the town into the ground, and during a chinese opera he’s attending he finds himself under attack by a group of men led by the infamous Iron Monkey (Yen). The attack ultimately fails and Iron Monkey retreats. Meanwhile we meet Jin, a young man from the countryside (Haven’t I said before to watch those country guys? They know some crazy kung-fu!) who travels to town in order to find his father (Ma), who happens to be posing in town as a blind man who works for the local resistance group. Hijinks ensue as Jin meets Xiaochun and Xiaoqian, two young people who spend their day conning others out of their cash, and see a new opportunity to cash in by tricking Jin into posing as the Iron Monkey. Of course this brings him on a deadly trajectory with the real Iron Monkey and Jade Tiger…
Let me repeat.
First off, this is no true sequel to Iron Monkey. This isn’t even the same f***king character as played by Yu Rongguang, so fie on that. Why bother to call it Iron Monkey if has not a damn thing to do with the original? Donnie Yen did well, for the short amount of time he had onscreen. I think he showed up in Blade 2 more. This film spends too much time dealing with Xiaochun and Xiaoquan and their antics with Jin rather than concentrating on the title character. Jade Tiger is a by the book baddie, so it was up to the others to make the film interesting. Well, they failed with flying colors on that, and I found myself marking time until the next fight scene. As if things weren’t bad enough, it looks as if the budget for the film got slashed into half of what the original film’s was. Everything from the costumes to the sets looked shoddy, and the camerawork was just terrible and lacked any style whatsoever.
The biggest sin this film commits is one I thought wasn’t possible. The film actually made Yuen Woo Ping, the great man himself, look pedestrian as a fight choreographer. No, really. The fights are completely unimaginative and without any real thrills. It looked like one of Corey Yuen’s “I’m just collecting a paycheck” films ( you know which ones I mean). Even the final fight was dull and no, under cranking the camera so the action seems faster didn’t make the fights any better. In fact they made them look more pitifully awful.
Notice I haven’t said anything at all about Billy Chow and Wu Ma. Yeah, this film is that bad.
Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 2
A terrible effort, particularly with the talent involved. Save ninety minutes of your life and take up scrapbooking instead of the dreck.