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Iron and Silk

34 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

As a student in America, he searched for ancient wisdom. As a teacher in China, he learned to find it within himself.


Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Mark Salzman, Qingfu Pan, Hangcheng Dong, Xihong Jiang, Jeanette Tsui Lin
  • Directors: Shirley Sun
  • Writers: Mark Salzman, Shirley Sun
  • Producers: Shirley Sun
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Lions Gate
  • DVD Release Date: January 18, 2005
  • Run Time: 92 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0006FFRSY
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #75,179 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Iron and Silk" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 23, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
I saw this recently on TV, and had to scour the internet to identify this incredible film. While the movie was not subtited (simply the version I saw..?), my inability to understand chinese did not effect the impact of the movie. Emotion and intent is very well communicated, especially by Mark Salzman and Pan Qingfu. I am not often a fan of foreign films, but this one easily held my interest, and I was very satisfied after watching it. For anyone interested in Chinese culture, I recommend this movie.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Bentley on July 9, 2007
Format: DVD
"Iron and Silk" is a delightful book and film. I had the pleasure of reading the book awhile ago; but was delighted to see the film in a local Asian film festival in my community.

The author Mark Salzman plays Mark Franklin in the movie of the same name. It is a memoir (a true story) of Mark's travel and teaching experiences in China (Changsha, Hunan Province). The events took place during 1982 - 1984 and Mark became as much of a student of Chinese life, martial arts, calligraphy, tai chi as he was a teacher of the Middle Aged English Teachers (a group of Chinese Russian teachers at the Hunan Medical College who had been told to forget Russian and now learn English).

Mark always wanted to be a Kung Fu master growing up, and he took lessons from a local teacher; but always felt like the smallest kid on the block. From a young age, he loved all things Asian. His mother was a musician and his father a social worker; but he found that he had developed an exceptional talent for the cello. He was admitted to Yale at 16 because of his cello expertise; but soon decided that he would major in Chinese languages and philosophy (again not much of a surprise). As part of a Yale program, he found himself traveling to Changsha, Hunan Province, China to teach English to a group of Chinese Russian teachers who were being asked to retrain. For two (2) years he lived, taught and learned a great deal in China about the Chinese people and also about himself.

He always wanted to study martial arts from a true wushu master and was fortunate enough to find as his teacher, the grand master himself: Pan Qingfu (known as the Iron Fist). Pan was the best in the world and was known as the Iron Fist because he punched a heavy iron plate 10,000 times a day!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By HB on November 7, 2006
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I discovered this movie about 10 years ago in a college library and was thrilled to find it on DVD. It is a tremendous slice of life that opened my mind, a true story that I still enjoy, and a cultural eye-opener everyone should have.

Iron & Silk is not a glossy Hollywood production, which makes the experience much more visceral. There is no dramatic training montage, no series of Wushu fights leading to a climactic confrontation. There is plenty of heart and soul in the characters. The conflict/resolution is of the every-day style and reminds one that our world is small only when our minds aren't.

Remember the idealism we had in our early twenties, that we could make things right by sheer force of will, or becoming self-defined iconoclasts? Mark Salzman's story captures that spirit without indulging in vainglorious self-aware examinations. And it holds true to the dreams of being something more, for the sheer joy of it.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By C.C. Hsu on April 24, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
I have read Mark Salzman's books and his film is true to style. It is a movie that tries to side step all of Hollywood's shallowness, and strikes at a simple truth that resonates across cultures.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By "miezee" on January 2, 2003
Format: VHS Tape
Iron and Silk is a very fitting title...the movie is about contrasts, between the East and the West, between reality and perception.
Mark, an American who has had a passion for China and Chinese culture since he was young, lands a job as an English teacher in China. He learns a lot about life from his students.
Having watched many kung-fu movies, Mark asks Teacher Pan, a famous wushu master in the area, to teach him martial arts. At first, Teacher Pan refuses, claiming that Americans don't know how to "eat bitter", but eventually gives in. Neither Mark nor Teacher Pan know what to expect from each other----Mark is a fun-loving American in a foreign land, Teacher Pan is a tough guy with the nickname "Iron Fist".
Mark also falls in love with a woman named Ming, but he comes to understand that their love can never be a reality.
In the movie, Mark encounters all kinds of discrimination; despite his ability to speak Mandarin, he is still perceived as a foreigner. He also experiences closeness and friendship.
Mark gains an understanding of the nuances of Chinese culture, how China is a combination of politics, ancient history, and the individual lives of people. The movie has great images of serpentine rivers curving through canyons, as well as everyday scenes like busy markets and streets. This movie really appealed to me because I often feel caught between two cultures(my parents are rather traditional Chinese-Americans), though in a different way than Mark does.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 26, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
[This is more of a comparison btwn the movie and book] I had to read the book and watch the film for an English class. I found the book to be an easy and fun read. The film and book in many ways are completely different but good in their own ways. I recommend seeing the film and reading the book for a thorough coverage. But knowing what really happened to Salzman remains a question because the "love story" seems to have two different sides. Btw, I think he wasn't such a bad actor considering he was also the author (in response to someone's previous review). Oh, I did find that although I really enjoyed the book that when it came time to writing a paper some of the movie's scenes stuck with me more when discussing cultural mis/understandings. Finally, I enjoyed the book and found it a great insight into the Chinese culture (especially during the 80's- check out Salzman's shorts in the film, ha!). Sometimes I felt it was a bit too focused on Salzman. But in this way I feel it's also a book about being a student of life (or just wushu, calligraphy, tai chi, etc...).
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