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鐵馬騮 (1977)
The Iron Monkey

Reviewed by: Gaijin84
Date: 08/04/2008
Summary: Revenge is a dish best served with a monkey fist...

The Iron Monkey, not to be confused with the modern Donnie Yen film, is a story of a wayward son and the lengths taken to ensure revenge. While he is out gambling on the town "Iron"'s family is betrayed by an insider and turned in to the Ching government as traitors. He witnesses them being paraded through the streets, but is saved from revealing his own identity by his girlfriend and her confidant. Once they are imprisoned, Iron is on his own and resorts to stealing food from the local Shaolin monastery. He is caught by the monks, but persuades the abbots to allow him to stay and learn kung fu. He is already somewhat proficient, but eventually masters the Monkey Fist style with the help of the "Bitter Monk." When Ching representatives come and try to recruit some monks into their army, Iron, now tagged with the name "Iron Monkey," sees his opportunity for revenge.

The Iron Monkey is a classic revenge-driven kung fu film. The Ching government is seen as the pinnacle of evil, to the point that Iron Monkey's father is willing to kill one of his own captive sons in order to prevent Iron's identity and location from being revealed. Iron is never fully trusted by a few of the other monks, and this comes to a head when he decides to join the Ching army. In order to prove himself, he is unusually brutal in his disposal of rebels, so much so that he rises quickly in the ranks and gains the confidence of the captains. Iron Monkey also has to fight his own monk friends, and gives no quarter to any of them save for his best friend, whom he barely spares. This is all in order to get revenge for his family whose death he feels responsible for. It seems a bit dramatic, but it is meant to show the willpower Iron possesses and his singular-driven purpose in life. In the temple there are some good training sequences, especially those involving the Bitter Monk and a contraption built with hundreds of incense sticks attached that can be lowered, forcing Iron Monkey into the trademark crouching style employed by Monkey Fist practitioners.
The fights are ok, but somewhat of a disappointment considering those involved. Chen Kuan-Tai is a former martial arts champion (and director of the film!), but the execution of the fight choreography is very slow and methodical, as if they hadn't had enough time to practice. The climactic fight against Kam Kong, known for his Eagle Style, is especially slow.

Interesting foreshadowing occurs in the initial credits. As they roll, an actual fight between an eagle and a monkey is shown. It seems a bit one-sided as the eagle is not allowed to fly and is subsequently pummeled by the monkey. By the end, there are feathers strewn all over the simple white back-dropped set. I'm not sure if the eagle was hurt during the filming, but it didn't look like a pleasant scene.


Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: movie_crazy
Date: 02/10/2003
Summary: A classic!

An excellent movie and one of Chen Kuan Tai's best performance. There is no silly jokes here and the fights are spectacular. The plot is just usual stuff about revenge, but it makes sense so it's fine. The opening sequence is extraordinary in which two guys fight each other using Eagle and Monkey technics, and we are treated with cut scenes of a real eagle fighting a real monkey. Outstanding! It promises the good and it delivers. Don't miss this classic, but don't buy the sequel!

Rating: 8/10

Reviewed by: Inner Strength
Date: 04/27/2002
Summary: Poor

The Iron Monkey (not the Yuen Wo Ping film) is not a very good kung fu film at all. It doesn’t help with the fact that the only Chinese version available on video is awful quality either. The shaky and uneven camera shots are very amatory, and clearly by watching the first 15 minutes alone will make most minds up to whether or not they will like this.

Not much of story is unfolded in its 85 minute running time, mainly due to the fact that a good 70% of the film is just non-dialog fighting. Within the first 5 minutes alone you see 3 different fights! But see the first review here to get a basic plot idea of this film if you’re interested.

Unfortunately the fight scenes, which dominate this film, are not very well choreographed and most of the time look ridiculously false. As for the acting…forget about it, nobody has much time to do any. The only thing saving this film are the interesting characters played by Wilson Tong & Wu Ma. The film picks up half way through with the training scenes, but then the final climax is too over the top and goes back to being bad again. Other than that, this is a waste of time, and I don’t recommend this one to anyone.

Rating: [1.5/5]

Reviewer Score: 3

Reviewed by: pjshimmer
Date: 11/23/2001

This movie is all about the action. If you like stylish old school kung fu, go see it. Otherwise, forget it, because it really doesn't have anything else to offer.


Reviewed by: j.crawford
Date: 12/09/1999

The film opens with a highly stylized title sequence that must beseen to be believed. Chen and another actor demonstrate "monkey fist" and "eagle's claw" intercut with footage of a real monkey and an eagle fighting! The film has great training scenes as Chen's character learns the "monkey fist" kungfu from the old Shaolin master. Chen was a martial arts champion in 1969.

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/08/1999

I do not know the names of the actors as the only part of the credits that is in english is the title. The movie starts off with a narration saying that the fighting style of the iron monkey and the eagle claw are a lost art and that through historical reports, the movie would try to present the two styles as best it could. The story starts of with a monkey and an eagle fighting each other and two of the characters doing kung fu that looks like the animals-its amazing!!! Then the story begins. The lead character's family is set up by the government as traitors and sent to be executed. The government knows about the fathers son, but cant find him. The son goes into hiding and the family is executed. Some monks catch him breaking into the shaolin temple and stealing food. One of the monks chases after him and asks him to join in the temple. After coming to the temple his kung fu skills progress rapidly and finally he is chosed to go to a secret part of the temple where he will learn the monkey kung fu. Also, for fear of being discovered he wont give out his name so they call him the iron monkey. Anyway, after learning the monkey kung fu, he joins the government forces (they don't have a clue who he is) and then he sets out on his revenge. The movie has a great story, solid acting, and great kung fu. It avoids the cheesiness that can come into some of the older kung fu movies. The movie starts off a little slow, but overall its action packed.


[Reviewed by Adam Scott Pritzker]