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Iron Monkey 2
  |     review    |     notes     |     availability     | "Warning: my hand is larger than it appears."
Donnie Yen
Year: 1996
Director: Jua Lu-Jiang
Producer: Lee Shin
Action: Yuen Woo-Ping
Cast: Donnie Yen Ji-Dan, Billy Chow Bei-Lei, Wu Ma, Yuen Man-Ching, Chang Jian-Li, Johnny Liu
The Skinny: A run-of-the-mill story, low production values and silly characters make Iron Monkey 2 the smoldering piece of dog dung that it is. Can the combined efforts of Donnie Yen and Yuen Woo-Ping save this film from its complete and utter crappiness? It depends on your expectation level.
Review by
     What would possess Donnie Yen to make this movie? An insatiable lust for greed? A soft spot for sequels? A life debt to action director Yuen Woo-Ping? Whatever the reason, the fact remains that Donnie Yen agreed to star in this tepid sequel to the earlier, more popular, Tsui Hark-produced masterpiece. Though Yen has since remained a fixture in the HK martial arts scene, Iron Monkey 2 was by no means a good career move for him.
     Ditching his previous role of Wong Kei-Ying in the first film, Yen dons the mask (and cape! *groan*) of the heroic Iron Monkey. Presumably, Yen's Iron Monkey is the descendant of the original (Yu Rong-Guang, who does not appear here) since this movie is set some fifty or so years after the events of its predecessor. In what passes for a plot, our Chinese Robin Hood battles the evil Jade Tiger, and crosses paths with arms dealers, a young fighter in search of his lost father (Wu Ma), a boy-girl pair of grifters, and an evil assassin played by Billy Chow.
     Though the film looks like a sloppy, totally unrelated chopsocky flick repackaged and renamed to capitalize on the original Iron Monkey, the movie is, in fact, a true sequel. Though I viewed Tai Seng's English-only version, bad dubbing can't take all the blame for the movie's lack of quality. The film's problems are numerous: dumb costumes, ridiculous characters (a fat and hairy Clint Eastwood clone), obvious wires, blatant anachronisms, and sloppy continuity (One guy wears three different suits in one scene!). And that's just the tip of the iceberg.
     To its credit, the film does boast some pretty decent fight scenes courtesy of Yuen Woo-Ping and Donnie Yen. The footage is sped up too much, but the action set pieces are imaginative enough to keep viewers distracted from the film's overall problems. And in its own sick way, the movie does slowly develop from ludicrous piece of celluloid junk to a somewhat passable B-grade movie. However, the film still suffers in comparison to the wire-fu genius of the original Iron Monkey.
     Having said that, I can't really recommend Iron Monkey 2 because I wouldn't want someone to plunk down their hard-earned cash expecting a rollicking good time, only to be sorely disappointed some ninety minutes later. So be warned, if you want quality HK entertainment, go elsewhere. But if you have nothing better to do and want a cheesy, mindless chopsocky flick that just happens to star Donnie Yen, try Iron Monkey 2. It provides ample fodder for smart remarks and you won't have to think too much either. Heck, I bought this movie for $5.88 at Wal-Mart, so it wasn't much of a gamble for me. (Calvin McMillin 2003)

• Although many sources list Yuen Woo-Ping as the director of Iron Monkey 2, the Tai Seng version credits Jua Lu-Jiang. Whether this is an Alan Smithee-type pseudonym or an actual person, I'm not sure. If Yuen Woo-Ping actually directed it, but then passed the credit to someone else (Ronny Yu reportedly did the same thing for Bride with White Hair 2) then it's no wonder he hasn't helmed a film since.
• The credits also state that "Yuen Ho-Ping" is the action director, but they also refer to Donnie Yen as "Donnie Yeh," so it's probably a simple typo and not a scam of the Bruce Li/Bruce Le variety.
The movie was filmed in less than two weeks. Reports vary as to why the film turned out so bad. Donnie Yen has been quoted as saying he was only supposed to appear in a cameo, but his role kept expanding, much to his dismay. Other sources suggest that Yen himself is to blame due to his poor behavior on the set.
In the Chinese opera scene, Donnie Yen dresses as Sun Wukong, otherwise known as the Monkey King, lead character of the legendary Chinese novel "Journey to the West."
One of the assistant cameramen is credited as "Ho Shit."

Availability: DVD (USA)
Region 0 NTSC
Tai Seng Video Marketing
Pan and Scan
English Dubbed

image courtesy of Tai Seng Video Marketing, Ltd.

 Copyright 2002-2017 Ross Chen