Iron Monkey is probably one of the best of the 90’s cult classic martial arts films that was released in the USA giving Donnie Yen and Yuen Woo Ping exposure to Hollywood and showing how great Hong Kong action movies can be. The problem was, as with most of the Miramax imported releases it was cut and dubbed robbing the audience of the original language and the full experience.
The film was subsequently released onto Blu ray but again only the cut and dubbed version (Cut by 6 minutes!) but thankfully you can now pick up the full version from Hong Kong released by Kam and Ronson. Its not perfect by any means but is certainly a better option for fans.
Soft-spoken doctor by day, vigilante Iron Monkey by night, physician Yang (Yu Rong Guang) has the local Qing government up in arms with his Robin Hood-like heroic exploits against the town’s corrupt overlords. With the authorities randomly dragging people off the streets on fabricated suspicions, Wong Kei Ying (Donnie Yen) and his son Fei Hung (Angie Tsang), who have just arrived in town, are quickly arrested when they display their martial arts prowess. The unscrupulous magistrate holds Fei Hung hostage, and orders Wong Kei Ying to capture Iron Monkey in exchange for his son.
The film has great cinematography and an interesting subject matter using the fight scenes to move the story along. Yu Rong Guang is excellent as the Iron Monkey, probably his best ever role and Donnie Yen give a stoic performance as Wong Kai Ying. Young female Angie Tsang play the young boy, Wong Fei Hung and pulls off the action scenes admirably. The only downside is the speeding up of some of the fight action, it doesn’t spoil the film but is unnecessary as the talent on show does not need it. A definite classic and it should be in everyone’s collection.
The Blu ray released by Kam and Ronson is a mixed bag, the image is clear and robust, a bit of dirt and dust are present as it obviously has not been remastered in any way. But the image is still good with fine detail and clarity for most of the running time. Audio is disappointing as it has a remixed 7.1 Cantonese track which when played through a surround sound amp is all over the place and very distracting. I watched it through normal TV speakers which was much more tolerable. Why on earth they cant include the original mono mix is beyond me. Subtitles are clear and easy to follow. Extras are just two trailers which is a shame. Overall this is recommended as you can see the film the way the director intended and not some cut up and dubbed version some Hollywood movie executive thinks you should see.
FILM: 8 PICTURE: 7.5 AUDIO: 5 EXTRAS: 1