In a desperate and unjust land, where government corruption rules the day, only one man has the courage to challenge the system and fight back. They call him Iron Monkey. Under the shadow of night, in the silence before dawn, he fights to give hope to the poor and the oppressed. Although no one knows his name and no one knows where he comes from, his heroism has made him a living legend to the people and a wanted man to the powers that be. Unable to capture this elusive Robin Hood through normal avenues, the ruthless government devises a plan: force a nationally renowned master fighter into service by taking his beloved and only son hostage. The mandate is simple; track down the Iron Monkey if he ever wants to see his boy again. But when the Iron Monkey's identity and true intentions are revealed to him, the tables turn, and these two great men, one known and one masked, join forces to take down the evil empire and reclaim the rights of the common people.
First released in Hong Kong in 1993, "Iron Monkey" is an accomplished Chinese-language martial-arts adventure that has been given a light makeover by Miramax and tossed into mainstream theaters. The reason the film has suddenly become a commercial proposition is named Yuen Wo Ping. He is the director of "Iron Monkey," as well as a couple of dozen other Hong Kong features, but he is probably best known to American audiences as the fight choreographer of "The Matrix" and "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon." "Iron Monkey" isn't as extreme in its stylization as Mr. Yuen's more recent work. But it does feature several dazzling numbers built around the technique known as wire-work, in which performers are rigged up in elaborate trusses and pulled up and down like living marionettes. — Dave Kehr
2001-10-12 | Dave Kehr | Read the New York Times Review of The Iron Monkey