Blu-Ray Review: Iron Monkey

When it comes to the Hong Kong film industry, I’d argue that no one who has been more important and influential over the last 35 years or so than Tsui Hark. Working in various roles as a director, screenwriter, producer and choreographer, he’s been responsible for A Better Tomorrow, A Chinese Ghost Story, Zu Warriors from the Magic Mountain, Once Upon a Time in China, The Killer, Detective Dee: Mystery of the Phantom Flame and many more. In 1993, he produced Iron Monkey, which is one of his best.

By day, Dr Yang (Rongguang Yu) runs a traditional Chinese medicine clinic with his assistant Miss Orchid (Jean Wang). By night, he is Iron Monkey; a martial artist who robs the rich to give to the poor. The governor (James Wong) orders General Fox (Shun-Yee Yuen) to arrest Iron Monkey and his associates. However, the General is at a loss and the locals are extremely disinclined to help. When Wong Kei-ying (Donnie Yen) arrives in town with his son (Sze-Man Tsang) he’s mistaken for the renegade due to his fighting skills. When the Governor realises his mistake, he imprisons his son and won’t release him until Wong Kei-ying captures the vigilante.

Iron Monkey is a breathtaking martial arts film which showcases some dazzling action choreography, including an array of inventive and thrilling set-pieces. Indeed, some of the fighting is on par with, or better than, anything you’re likely to see in a Hong Kong action film. Donnie Yen is spectacular, as ever, whilst the cast are all superb martial artists. Yuen Woo-ping creates a film which feels epic in scale but is only merely an episode in Chinese folk hero Wong Fei-hung’s life.

Special Features:

  • Limited Edition O-Card (First print run only)
  • Stunning 1080p presentation from a brand new 2K restoration
  • Original Cantonese mono audio track (also available in 5.1 presentation)
  • 5.1 English audio track
  • Isolated music & effects track
  • Interview with Donnie Yen (20 mins)
  • Interview with producer Tsui Hark (25 mins)
  • Interview with Yu Rong-kwong
  • Interview with Angie Tsang (20 mins)
  • Interview with stuntwoman and actress Li Fai (25 mins)
  • Iron Fist (16 mins) – a behind-the-scenes look at the action choreography of Iron Monkey
  • Shadow Boxing (8 mins) – a featurette on Hong Kong action choreography featuring Alex Yip
  • Footage of Li Fai and Angie Tsang competing at the 2003 Wu Shu Championships
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • A collector’s booklet featuring a new essay on the film (First print run only)

Iron Monkey is released on Blu-ray by Eureka Classics on 18 June.

Previous Sheffield Doc/Fest Review: The Waldheim Waltz
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