With the popularity of Oriental action stars like Jackie Chan and Jet Li as well as films such as CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON, American audiences are being introduced to other Chinese productions. Familiar story elements appear in this 1993 film as a mysterious hero hides his identity to battle corrupt officials and greedy merchants in China of the 1850s. Stealing gold from the government and leaving it for poor peasants at a metal idol earns him the name of Iron Monkey. When Wong Kei Ying (Donnie Yen) and his son, Wong Fei Hong (Tsang Sze Man), visit the city, their martial arts skills in a fight with street thugs gets them arrested, suspected of being the Iron Monkey. After the Iron Monkey rescues his son, Wong joins the masked hero in righting wrongs. The combination of athletic and ballet-like choreography in this martial arts film, along with a familiar tale, will intrigue both action fans and those looking for an entertaining story
IRON MONKEY combines elements of good and bad. Although battling corrupt leaders, the hero must hide his identity and break laws. Some crude terms appear in the sub-titles along with one obscenity, but the frequent martial arts violence is occasionally more graphic than necessary. Sexual material is limited to some suggestive comments. Despite the more positive aspects of this story, the frequent battles and graphic violence make IRON MONKEY hard to recommend.