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Thursday, January 28, 2016

Movie Talk - Iron Monkey and Iron Monkey 2

Well, it’s the last week for this butt-kicking, leg-aching month. During my snow-laden stay at home, I decided to revisit a movie I saw when I was younger, Iron Monkey. I saw this a few years ago on TV and I remember enjoying it. Since it was on Netflix and I had nothing to do, I decided to watch it. I also saw that the movie had a sequel called Iron Monkey 2, so I thought it might be a good watch too. They both have Donnie Yen, a martial arts actor I’m beginning to enjoy more of these days.

Iron Monkey was first released in 1993 overseas. It was eventually brought over US theaters in 2001. Quentin Tarantino was behind getting it over here. I guess someone eventually saw Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and thought this would be good over here. You know, I still haven’t seen Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon yet. I may have to do that someday. It has an easy title to spoof with Crouching Tiger, Hidden “Insert Random Thing Here.” As for its “sequel”, it was released in 1996. There really isn’t much else to say about it… yet.

Iron Monkey
The movie revolves around the Iron Monkey, a bandit who’s akin to Robin Hood. He’s actually the town’s doctor, Yang Tianchun. He steals from the rich, corrupt officials and gives that money to the poor in this Chinese village. When Wong Kei-Ying (Donnie Yen) and his son, Wong Fei-Hung, come into town, they end up getting involved wit the town’s problem. Kei-Ying decides to take the Iron Monkey down. However, the two have to join forces when an imperial official/evil Shaolin monk comes to the town and starts to cause more trouble.
Sweet.

I’m glad my memory wasn’t playing tricks with this one. This was a pretty good movie. A lot of folk throw it into that “Greatest Kung Fu movie” file but I wouldn’t say all that yet. The story is really well done. You get a feel for all of the characters here. I liked all of the characters here too. Wong Kei-Ying may come off as a harsh father to his son at times, but you do see that he loves him. We also got a child actor actually doing a good job in the role of Chinese folk hero Wong Fei-Hung. If you’re wondering, yes, Wei-Fong is being played by a young girl. I guess they couldn’t find a boy do to all those moves.

The fight scenes are pretty awesome. This definitely goes into wire-fu territory with our heroes and villains pulling off some pretty superhuman moves. The guys are flying in the sky like they want to give Michael Jordan a run for his money. Luckily, it all looks pretty cool. I’m not the biggest fan of wire-fu but I like it when it’s well done and exciting. The only thing I’ll say that isn’t so good are the villains. They’re not well-defined in the movie. It could just be this cut of the movie though. I did think having the villains be evil Shaolin monks was interesting. Other than that, this movie was awesome.

Iron Monkey 2
Iron Monkey 2… where can I start with it? First off, it’s not a true sequel to the original. While it does reference some things, it’s in no way connected to the story of the original. It takes place in the early 20th century. The movie revolves around The Iron Monkey (Donnie Yen) as he is trying to kill a corrupt Chinese governor. The governor also has ties to Japan and Russia. The movie also revolves around a young man named Jin who is looking for his father in the city. Jin ends up being in the company of an annoying con man and his sister. Eventually, their stories cross over and Jin ends up helping the Iron Monkey with the corrupt officials.
This is how I look when choosing apples. They all look the same! It's so hard sometimes, man!

If you could probably tell by now, I didn’t like this one all that much. I knew I was in for something when I saw the ratings for this on IMDB and Netflix. I thought it couldn’t be that bad and it really isn’t. That doesn’t mean that it is close to being decent though. I thought the story wasn’t all that bad. It’s muddled up at some points but there were some decent things here story-wise. I also thought Donnie Yen was good even though it was a pretty limited role. All he does here is fight and if you only want that, you’ll get it. The actual lead, Jin (Yuen Man-hing), was okay but bland.

That’s all the good I can give it though. It has some bad stuff and I’m not even going to mention the misleading title and horrid dubbing. I could only see this dubbed and it sucked. I now know why I try to watch these movies undubbed now. I honestly couldn’t stand the con man but his sister was okay (and cute). The fact that I couldn’t remember their names (Xiaochun and Xiaoqian) says a lot about them. At least Xiaochun actually realizes he’s a douchebag toward the end and helps out Jin and the Iron Monkey. 

As I said above, the story isn’t bad, but it is pretty jumbled especially with the movie’s beginning and middle. The villains are pretty laughable especially when a Clint Eastwood look-alike is running around with guns. Then, you have the fight scenes that are a bit mixed for me. They don’t seem well-shot at points and someone had them on fast-forward again. You can definitely tell that the movie itself is pretty low budget when you look at the fight scenes. It even has an abrupt end which could be a good thing if you hate it. Overall, this wasn’t a good one.

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In conclusion, one good movie out of two isn’t bad. I definitely recommend Iron Monkey to you. I don’t throw this title around much, but it is one of the best kung fu movies around. As for its “sequel”, I say skip it. If you’re curious like I was foolishly was, at least I’ve now warned you. Well, I’m outta here. Peace, God Bless, and watch out for evil Shaolin monks who skate on air… hey, it could happen.

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