Iron Monkey

Yuen Wo Ping’s dazzling, gravity-defying kung fu choreography in Iron Monkey may look familiar to anyone high on the action he staged in ”Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” and ”The Matrix.” But what seems new in this eight-year-old movie — restored, tweaked, and re-subtitled for American distribution — is the playfulness with which Yuen, fully in charge as director as well as choreographer, showcases his performers’ formidable skills. The rudimentary plot, mixing real and fictional characters, stars Yu Rong Guang as the title (fictional) folk hero — a Superman for 19th-century China — who disguises himself by day as a mild-mannered local doctor, assisted by the serenely beautiful, equally limber, equally fictional Miss Orchid (Jean Wang); longtime action star Donnie Yen costars as a (real) kung fu master whose young son (played by female martial-arts champ Tsang Sze Man) will one day grow up to be (real) turn-of-the-century martial artist Wong Fei Hong. Even as the nonstop fight sequences build to a climactic showdown on fiery poles, Yuen tosses off nimble, elegantly witty solutions to life’s most vexing problems regarding rooms full of bad guys who won’t take thwak for an answer.

Iron Monkey
  • Movie
  • 86 minutes