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Iron Monkey [Blu-ray]
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200 of 214 people found the following review helpful
on March 24, 2002
Iron Monkey is definitely one of the best (if not THE best) kung-fu movie ever made. The story is nice and simple enough to follow with ease and the fight scenes are nothing less than breathtaking.
This American version of Iron Monkey totally downgrades the movie. OK, so they added to the story at the beginning and also remastered both audio and video. They even kept the original Cantonese language. Sounds like the best remastered kung-fu movie? Well, not exactly. Though what they added is great, what they took out was totally uncalled for. First, they deleted scenes. I would understand deleting irrelevant scenes but why delete fight choreography? I don't understand why some of the fight scenes were cut short, especially the final fight as it's the best one. It doesn't make sense at all. Secondly, they deleted dialogue. A big part of kung-fu is actually calling the attack one is about to do. Donnie Yen's character (Wong Kei-ying) has this signature move called the "Shadowless Kick" which he yells out when he executes it. They completely took that off along with other called attacks for some reason and that just takes the flavor out of the fighting. Finally, they changed the story with the subtitles. If you don't speak Cantonese (which I don't) you won't get what the characters actually say as the subtitles are NOT actual translations. This really feels like a dumbed down version for the American audience.
I've seen two other versions of this DVD. One is the original Region 0 version from HK and the other is the Region 2 Collector's Edition that I bought. The Region 2 is a perfectly remastered version of the ORIGINAL movie with crisp sound and video with REAL subtitles. The only thing about this version is that it's PAL video format whereas the Region 0 is NTSC. I give this Region 1 release 2 stars just because it's Iron Monkey. The added content was nice but they shouldn't have cut so many things. I recommend buying the original Region 0 HK DVD (green cover with the 2 ninjas) or the Region 2 version if you can play PAL discs. However, if you're not picky and just want a glimpse of this movie, buy this release.
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61 of 65 people found the following review helpful
on April 5, 2002
Why can't the people at Dimension Home video get it right for once??? They messed up every single martial arts movie release by not providing the original language tracks and cutting scenes. This time with Iron Monkey, they were wise enough to remaster the original chinese language track, but they still decide to cut. For me, cutting a fighting scene, especially if its the last one, is a no no...and I, like another reviewer here, love it when Wong Kei-Ying or Wong Fei Hung call out their special move (Shadowless Kick) before they actually do it. Anyways, for those that don't know, this movie was made in 1993 and it took long enough to come over here. This is a story of a Robin Hood like character who steals from the rich corrupt govt officials and gives to the poor towns people. He goes by the name of Iron Monkey (played by Rongguang Yu), a hero to the townspeople, and a wanted man by the officials. The officials are arresting anyone that looks suspicious. While in town to shop for medicine, Wong Kei-Ying (played by the awesome Donnie Yen) and his son, the very young Wong Fei Hung get in a quarrel with some thugs and get arrested for suspicion. The chief official learns of Wong Kei-Ying's great martial arts, and by force sends him to take out the Iron Monkey while his son Wong Fei Hung is held in custody. To make it simple, Wong Kei-Ying and the Iron Monkey will eventually team up and fight some interesting govt officials. Donnie Yen pretty much steals the show in this film as Wong Kei-Ying, and he is the reason why I watched it. His kicking ability and speed are just awesome. Yeun Woo Ping once again lends a hand in making a decent choreographed film. I must admit there is more wirework here than I would want to see, but thankfully Donnie saves it here. The kid that plays Wong Fei Hung (a boy?...I've heard it was a girl too) is pretty awesome in this movie as well. Basically, theres plenty of fighting action in this film to keep action fans happy, and the ones with Donnie Yen are the best. Now, to the dvd...quentin tarantino and Dimension is getting a lot of heat from me for the cutting. Folks, if you are able to play Region 2 PAL dvds...then the Hong Kong Legends version of Iron Monkey is the essential copy to own...completely uncut, remastered audio (Original Chinese and English) and video, and some interesting extras. If not, then get the Media Asia HK version (green box) for that is uncut as well, but not as crisp clear as the Region 2. I wrote this review in full support of Donnie Yen, he is one of the best martial artist to be caught on film. Check out his other greats such as In The Line of Duty IV, Tiger Cage 2, Wing Chun (alongside Michelle Yeoh), and OUATIC 2 (alongside Jet Li). For those that dont know, hes also the asian guy in Blade 2. Anyways, Iron Monkey is a classic and well worth your buck. Check this movie out and check my other HK reviews too...hope this was helpful.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on November 23, 1999
The Iron Monkey is evidence why the martial arts choreography in The Matrix thrilled the American audience. Director Yuen Woo-Ping delivers an impressive punch with this 1993 film which features an easy-to-follow storyline, good acting, stylish cinematography, and amazing fight scenes. Highlighted in this film is actor Yu Rong-Guang whose acrobatic and hand-to-hand combat skills are at their best. The inclusion of the legendary character Wong Fei-Hung (depicted in this movie as a child) makes this movie appealing to the younger viewers as well. All in all, the Iron Monkey is a great film and, perhaps, deserves a big screen showing here in the U.S. Until that happens, whether you buy or rent this film, watching it would definitely be time well spent.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on May 12, 2001
After several years of watching old Run Run Shaw kung fu movies on late night local TV, I was able to find a laserdisk from the UK of this movie, and man was my world rocked.
In terms of bang for buck, no other martial arts movie comes even close to capturing the savage ballet exhibited in Iron Monkey. Other reviews will tell you about the simple story line, and how it is mostly a Chinese variation of the Robin Hood story. This review is just to reiterate the sheer number of incredibly high quality action sequences. Highlights of this amazing martial arts film rank high in the top CHK fight sequences of all time. From hand to hand battles, to weapons kata, including swords, chains, staves and even an umbrella, the choreography by Yuen Wo Ping is brilliant, and the speed of the battles is mind-blowing. The production values (lighting, photography, etc.) are pure Tsui Hark.. absolutely beautiful.
If you're a serious martial arts film enthusiast and do not have this movie in your personal library, you should be hit with flying sleeves, the king kong palm, and no shadow kicked in the groin all at the same time. Turn in your badge and go back to renting 'American Ninja' and 'Karate Kid' videos. Shame on you.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Full of action and wonderful fighting choreography,

A remake of the 1970's film of the same name, the 1993 film "Iron Monkey" stars Rongugang Yu ("Musa the Warrior", "Shanghai Noon", "Midnight Express in Orient" as Dr. Yang a.k.a. "Iron Monkey".

During a time when the poor were being mistreated by bandits, many tried to flock towards government officials for protection but finding mistreatment at a higher level as well. So, the "Iron Monkey" is like an equivalent of Robin Hood, steal from the rich and give back to the poor. But being the popular doctor in the village, no one suspects him of anything.

Dr. Yang works with Miss Orchid (Jean Wang, "Once Upon a Time in China" films, "Swordsman III"), a woman who is also an impressive fighter but is seen as the shopkeeper at Dr. Yang's office.

But with a senator coming to visit the village, the current governor wants a search for Iron Monkey (who has stolen a lot of the governor's savings) and has his men try to capture anyone who may be the one who has been stealing from them.

One day, a man named Wong Kei-Ying (Donnie Yen, "Kill Zone", "Shanghai Affairs", "Hero") and his son Wong Fei-Hung (Sze-Man Tsang) visit the village and make some purchases but when Wong Fei-Hung spots a child being bullied, he defends him by using a slingshot and shooting a rock at one of the bad juveniles. But when his father takes the slingshot away, the bad bullies suspect he is the culprit and the father easily beats them.

Because the governor's men watched Wong Kei-Ying fight, they arrest both Wong Kei-Ying and his son.

While all men who were arrested try to plead to the governor that they are not Iron Monkey, the governor doesn't care and wants to imprison all of them. But then the real Iron Monkey shows up and Wong Kei-Ying who wants to protect his son, gets into a fight with Iron Monkey and everyone is at awe at both men's martial arts. The governor then cuts a deal with Wong Kei-Ying, if he catches the Iron Monkey, he will release his son to him. If not, his son will be in prison forever.

With Wong Kei-Ying knowing that all he has is his son, he will do what he can to catch the Iron Monkey. But he is quick to learn that the villagers are supportive of the Iron Monkey and will not feed him. Being broke and having no money and knowing he has a week to catch the Iron Monkey, unbeknown to him, Miss Orchid takes him into their home for food and both she and Dr. Yang learn that his son has been captured and learn that the only way they will be free is if the Iron Monkey is killed.

Knowing that Wong Kei-Ying is being wronged, Dr. Yang (ala Iron Monkey) and Miss Orchid do what they can to help him.

It's important to not that Wong Kei-Ying's son is the Wong Fei-hung that is a Kung Fu hero in China. The real man lived from 1847 through 1924 and was a master of the no-shadow kick, drunken boxing, the lion dance and Hung fist. The character has been explored in a number of films which include the Jet Li "Once Upon a Time in China" films and for Jackie Chan in the "Drunken Master" films

VIDEO & AUDIO:

"Iron Monkey" is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1). For the most part, this 1993 film definitely looks better with the HD treatment than its 2002 DVD counterpart. The picture quality looks much clearer and compared to the 1994 "The Legend of Drunken Master" film that is coming out on Blu-ray, "Iron Monkey" has less scratches and dirt. For the most part, the film looks good, not great but good and better than DVD.

As for the audio, this is what will determine whether or not one will probably but it or not. "Iron Monkey" is provided in English 5.1 DTS-HD (48 kHZ/24-bit) lossless audio, while the original Chinese dialogue is only 5.1 Dolby Digital and Spanish 2.0 digital. I'm not going to add flame to the fire of whether or not to call an English dub bad or not, especially since I'm biased towards the original language. But I also know there are many people who dislike reading films with subtitles and will put up with the English dialogue. So, with that being the case, the English dub is much clearer and there are some scenes that utilize the surround channels. But for the most part, the film features a lot of front and center channel usage with some thumps being heard on the surrounds. I didn' t notice much LFE on the English dub either.

As for the original Chinese soundtrack, it is in 5.1 Dolby Digital but for the most part, at least with Blu-ray, you know that the 5.1 DD track is at a higher bitrate. But yes, too many people, not having a lossless audio soundtrack is a deal breaker.

And of course, the major deal breaker for many fans of "Iron Monkey" is that this is the edited version. Scenes were cut out, some fixed up but the most significant change audio-wise is the replacement of the music. Miramax wanted to capitalize on the popularity of "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon", so the music was changed to a classical score.

As for subtitles, the film is presented in English SDH and Spanish. And yes, the subtitles have been revised as well to eliminate the political context of the film.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

"Iron Monkey" comes with two special features:

* Quentin Tarentino Interview - (9:35) Quentin Tarentino talks about his passion for Kung Fu films.
* Donnie Yen Interview - (6:21) Donnie Yen talks about how he got involved in martial arts and film.

JUDGMENT CALL:

"Iron Monkey" is an entertaining martial arts film filled with interesting characters and wonderful fighting choreography.

Personally, this was one of the more memorable fighting films that dominated the 80's and early 90's but the controversy lies on the cutting and editing of the films for the US release. Like "The Legend of Drunk Master", this release is going to be loved or hated by fans.

Again, I want to make it clear that this film has its best looking transfer to date on Blu-ray and much better than the previous 2002 DVD. Picture quality is very good but not reference quality but for a 1993 film, it looks pretty good. But what it all comes down to is the viewer and what they want are expecting from this film.

For those who have a disdain towards watching films with English subtitles, you're going to get a solid English dubbed soundtrack via its lossless English 5.1 DTS-HD audio. Fight scenes sound very good and although not an immersive soundtrack, it's still quite solid. Again, I'm not going to debate if the English dubbing is good or bad because everyone has their own opinion on dubs and personally, I'm biased towards the films with its original language but at the same time, I know plenty of people who are unable to enjoy a film with subtitles and thus needs the English dub.

But for those who have been waiting for the uncut release, this is not it. The film has the edited scenes, revised subtitles and also the music change but at least the Chinese audio via Dolby Digital 5.1 was still included. It may not be lossless but I'm glad it was included (unlike "The Legend of Drunken Master" which doesn't have it nor does it have the original ending scene) but still, with the revisions made, purists will not be satisfied and its understandable.

So, needless to say...it's going to be a love or hate release among fans. As a fan of the film, one can either wait and hope that an import uncut release of the film makes it to Blu-ray. Or perhaps maybe purchasing this latest release with the better picture quality, better lossless audio than the original DVD.

But with that said, "Iron Monkey" is still an entertaining martial arts film that has an enjoyable storyline, enjoyable characters and awesome fight choreography. "Iron Monkey" one of my favorite Donnie Yen films but unfortunately, it's not the uncut/unrevised version that I was hoping for. But again, if you enjoyed the original US DVD release and don't mind the revisions, then this is the definitive version to own.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on August 18, 2009
Iron Monkey, if you didn't know, is one of the best martial arts movies ever made. If you're reading about this edition rather than the cheaper and more popular Miramax version, you probably do know that.

This is the original version of Iron Monkey released in Hong Kong in 1993. As far as I can tell, it's the only Region 1 version of the original edit available right now. Unlike the Miramax version, it includes uncut fight scenes and the original music and sound effects, while dispensing with the explanatory prologue. That, however, is the best that can be said for this version. Though it recycles the cover art for the superb Hong Kong Legends edition (right down to the HKL logo), it doesn't include any of that version's special features (it doesn't have any except for a few trailers), the picture quality is lousy and the subtitles often nonsensical. Though Iron Monkey is a five-star movie on its own merits, I can't rate this edition that highly. Maybe Dragon Dynasty will someday, finally, give this movie a proper North American release.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on October 14, 2001
Just to clear up some issues about the film: It is enjoying a USA theatrical release currently, but the film itself was released originally in 1993. Stands on its own as one of the greatest martial arts movies ever made, yet was obviously slated for a USA release by Miramax to capitalize on the surprise success of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. The two films bear little similarity, with IM being more of an action-on-display film, CTHD being more of a pensive highbrow affair, though both are tremendous films.
Donnie Yen got top billing in the film, yet he is NOT Iron Monkey, he is Wong Fei-Hung's father. Incidentally, the role of Wong Fei-Hung's father was played by Hong Kong veteran actor Ti Lung in Jackie Chan's Drunken Master II (dubbed Legend of Drunken Master in its USA theatrical release.) Yu Rong-Guang (a former male model in China) plays Iron Monkey, but gets 3rd billing in the film, due to previous unsuccessful efforts at making him a top-shelf HK action hero.
Yuen Woo-Ping's world-reknowned fight choreography truly shines in the ending scene, which has our heroes battling on top of a courtyard of burning poles. For certain one of the finest martial arts scenes ever filmed. The Chinese folk hero Wong Fei-Hung is also featured in over 200+ films, including Jet Li's famous Once Upon A Time In China series. Wong Fei-Hung was indeed a real person, born in 1847, and passed away in 1924. He was a martial arts master, teacher, healer, and revolutionary who would protect and help those who were weak and defenseless.
All in all, Iron Monkey is a top-notch film that belongs in any martial-arts or Hong Kong film fan's collection.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on September 10, 2005
Yes, you heard right. This DVD, the 90-minute Iron Monkey version from Tai Seng Video, is the version for the hardcore and casual buyer (though its out of print, at the moment, in 2005). Why? Becuase its NOT the 85-minute version that Dimension Home Video created, for their theatrical release and DVD. What you hear is true, the fight scenes have been trimmed to get a PG-13 rating for the USA release, and the subtitles are severly lacking. Even the wonderful music has been changed, and the story dialog has been altered. Don't listen to any other review that talks about "missing footage" on this page -- they're really refering to the Dimension version, and thought that this page advertises that one.

Now, the Tai Seng Video version (90-minutes) has a good-quality subtitles, uncut footage, and even a Engligh 2.0 audio track for those that rather listen to a dubb track. This is the version that is considered a "must buy" but be sure that you order the original Tai Seng 90-minute version when you purchase from another amazon.com vendor, since the two versions have seperete entries on this website. You'll thank me if you bought the Dimension Home Video release by mistake. Trust me.
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on February 5, 2006
If you want UNCUT ORIGINAL version, ALWAYS look for ORIGINAL LICENSED Production. NOT US Release. Its a foreign film, it should not be US version to begin with~! HELLO!!!?? Why settle for LESS with US Version where they edit and cut so many excellent scenes especially with Jackie's Fighting Scenes. And US Release ruins the speed and sound as well. I have been collecting JET Li movies both HK and US Release Version for quite some time now. I found HK Version to be MUCH MORE in enjoyable, and HIGHER in Quality. American Market always like to "Americanize" and "Control". Regional Code Regulation thing is one of the example to CONTROL the Market. Why not let everyone enjoy the same HK Original Release move the same way REST OF THE WORLD enjoys it ?? No one makes Hollywood American movies to "French version" or "Chinese Version" ~! This what Americans are doing~! Well, enjoy the cheap "American version" then~! LOL
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Iron Monkey is one of those Hong Kong fight films that combine a simple but entertaining plot with brilliant fight choreography in just the right amounts to keep the viewer's attention throughout. Set in 19th Century China it begins as the story of Dr. Yang (Yu Rong-guang) who has undertaken to right the wrongs of the greedy provincial governor by moonlighting as the Iron Monkey - a Zorro like character who leaps from roof to roof, often with the governor's illicit takings in his bag. Dr. Yang's beautiful assistant Miss Orchid (Jean Wang), is also the Iron Monkey's faithful sidekick.

Governor Cheng (James Wong) is foaming at the mouth in his efforts to catch the Iron Monkey. Herbalist and martial arts wizard Wong Kei-Ying (Donnie Yen) and his son Fei-Hung (Sze-man Tsang) are drawn in first to help the governor and then as co-conspirators with Dr. Yang. However, the governor is not the worst problem. An imperial investigator who is both utterly evil and a grandmaster of the Shaolin fighting style comes to look into the Iron Monkey mystery and doctor, nurse, herbalist and son are all fighting for their lives.

Even though the story is an excellent one, and the Chinese actors do a fine job, the real test of a Hong Kong fight film is its fights. Choreographer Yuen manages to create action that is surprisingly believable, despite all the 30 foot leaps into the sky and an entire scene done on the tips of poles set in a blazing fire. I actually feel that the work is better than that of Crouching Tiger. The action in Iron Monkey is very tight, while in Crouching Tiger they seem to bobble at the ends of cords. And the physical fighting in between leaps is genuinely dazzling.

There are a couple of complaints about the subtitles, but I never felt they were out of place or awkward. Unless you are an expert at Cantonese I don't think the disparities will bother you. This is as fun a fight film to watch as any I've seen.
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