Siunin Wong Fei-hung tsi titmalau (Iron Monkey)
Directed by Yuen Woo-ping
Review by Evelyn Gildrie-Voyles <firstname.lastname@example.org>
In 1993, Golden Harvest released a dubbed version of Iron Monkey onto video in America. The version is hysterical: goofy dialogue, goofier sound effects, and great over-the-top fight choreography. Now Quentin Tarantino and Miramax Films has re-translated, re-scored, subtitled, and released Iron Monkey into American theatres. The goofy dubbed dialogue has been replaced with historical references and righteous hero-speak. The sound effects are entirely gone. BUT the fight choreography remains fanciful, creative and the ultimate example of silly wire-fu.
Knowledge of the plot is completely unnecessary. It's basically good outlaw, bad governor, noble traveler, a wise beautiful woman and a well meaning but spineless lawman battle each other. Add a sprinkling of greedy wives, brothel owners, poor people, and corrupt monks, and you have the story.
The added prologue and subtitles make the story easier to follow, but the fighting and humor is really the point of this movie. Sometimes the serious subtitles seem at odds with the crazy fight choreography. This is not a realistic martial arts movie. Not only do the characters fly through the air and defy gravity while fighting, one character attacks his enemies with a giant flying sleeve. Silly stuff, but the Tarantino and Miramax version seems to be fighting the silly side of the film. They also tack an American-style happy ending onto the film. At the close of the movie, printed titles let us know that Iron Monkey (Yu Rongguang) and Orchid (Jean Wang) get married rather than just continuing to live together in admiration and sexual repression for the rest of their lives.
I don't really know which version is more true to the original spirit of the movie. The version in theatres right now is highly enjoyable and probably preferable for those who like wire-fu but aren't crazy about cheese. For those of you who appreciate campy humor, rent the Golden Harvest version; it's much funnier even if it is of slightly poorer quality.
For more information, go to the Internet Movie Database:
Siunin Wong Fei-hung tsi titmalau (1993)
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