Tag Archives: Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon

Iron Monkey: Martial Arts in Flight

I have to say at first I was a bit skeptical about this movie. From the get go, the Iron Monkey/Robin Hood hero is flying through the air pulling off some ridiculous kicks and spin moves. It reminded me of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, but in more of a comical way. And then I let all those inhibitions go and enjoyed the movie for its technique and visual thrill. By the end, I was pumped up, and inspired to go downstairs and try out some moves on my little sister. But it was 2 in the morning, and I was to lazy to beat up on a sleeping person.

Iron Monkey is the epic tale of a man with a hidden, superhero-like identity. Yang Tianchun (Yu Rongguang) is a medical doctor. He treats the poor for no fee and makes the rich pay what they feel is necessary to heal their ailments. Nights, Yang

Donnie Yen, the master.

moonlights as The Iron Monkey. He sneaks into the evil Governor Cheng’s (Jean Wang) chambers and steals from him. He defeats a dozen guards and four Shaolin monks. It is apparent that no one can stand up to the power of The Iron Monkey.

Wrought with despair at having any of his massive plunder taken, Governer Cheng orders the head of his guard, Fox (Yuen Shun-yi) to search and find anyone who could be the Iron Monkey. When a foreign physician/rapist martial artist rolls into town, Wong Kei-ying (Donnie Yen) and his son/disciple Wong Fei-hung (Angie Tsang) are arrested. Noticing Kei-ying’s power, the Governor enlists him to find the Iron Monkey, or he will leave his son in the dungeons forever. It is up to Donnie Yen in his fight for his son and the well being of a town who benefits from the one man he is trying to capture. Let the chase begin.

Angie Tsang, what amazing things she did with that stick.

After getting over the wire propelled stunts and kicks, I came to really enjoy the characters and the setting for this film. A remake from back in the 1970’s, this movie went farther and more elaborate than I’m sure the other film did. Based on a myth of the Wong father and son’s interaction with an “Iron Monkey” like character, a real mystery is placed around a Batman like character.

All of the fight scenes are dope. Every one is unique and takes place in a different location that utilizes the surroundings to pull off a spectacularly choreographed fight scene. And there are 4 martial artists whose skills are showcased. It’s not all about the Monkey. I

An evil power looms…

found that to be a relief from films that focus on the protagonist and no one else. The Iron Monkey actually had less fight scenes than anyone else!

And here’s another thing that blew my mind. Donnie Yen’s son in the film is actually played by a girl! Angie Tsang is on Hong Kong’s national Wushu martial arts team. She won silver in the Asian Games and Gold in the Wushu Championships. And the whole time I thought she was some malnourished little boy. I’m always thrilled to see a young woman destroying big burly guys on camera with skills she actually can do and will do in order to defend herself and utlimately kick you ass (i.e. Chocolate). A big bravo and props sent Angie’s way.

What a great last fight scene. Get some of that.

With an almost over the top plot with lots of great comic relief and fight scenes, this movie is something I would recommend to a lot of first time martial arts movie watchers. It has the plot in order to draw you in and then blows you back with the martial arts action. Donnie Yen is a martial arts destroyer as usual, and I plan to do a lot more reviews of his movies in the future (most likely his Ip Man films). This movie inspires you to fight for the weak and poor, and rightly so. It is the true way of a master. 8.2 out of 10. 

 

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Jet Li’s Fearless

In what was meant to be Jet Li’s last Wushu epic, Jet Li busts out all the big guns for this film. Although he has made other films that feature his style of martial arts, it goes without saying that movies like The Warlords, The Forbidden Kingdom, and the Expendables (soon to be followed by a second) aren’t exactly focused around Li’s stunt action coordination or anything of the sort. I would argue that War, the movie with Jason Statham that followed this film, was a bit focused on Li’s destructive power of those around him, although the movie questions his identity. In either case, it wasn’t meant to be Jet Li’s last film, just his last display of his martial art’s competence.

In this film, based loosely on Huo Yuanija’s life as a martial artist, this movie follows Jet Li as Huo and his fights to bring back honor and national pride to a broken country. With the Western imperialism and Japanese pressure, Huo fights those foreign invaders in symbolic battles that show off the strength of pride that the Chinese people hold. If it came down to Jet Li’s acting to represent honor for China in this film, it may not hold as much meaning. I was just a bit thrown off by Jet Li’s acting in this movie. It seemed forced and comical at times, but it didn’t matter when he closed his mouth and pounced on some ass with his destructive moves.

Jet Li at his finest.

The movie starts off at a martial arts display tournament in which Huo must defeat 4 competitors from 4 different countries. Using weapons and hand-to-hand combat, Huo fights back the attackers in order to defend his country. Before the fourth battle commences, a flashback to Huo’s life before takes place. For 2/3’s of the movie. Huo remembers when he was a child, being instructed by his father Huo Endi (Colin Chou) and how honorable he was. His father would take him downtown to the battles that took place in raised rings between fighters in the town. In this particular fight, Huo’s father is defeated and Huo finds his resolve to never be fearful and always to win and gain honor.

You’ve impressed me.

This mentality almost becomes Huo’s downfall when he won’t allow the attacking of one of his disciples to be delegated in a civil, non-violent manner. Quin Lei (Chen Zhihui) the rival martial arts master defies Huo and his newly found hubris and fights to the death versus him. With his ruthless manner, something not encouraged by his father, Huo kills Lei and retreats into the countryside to really reevaluate just what it means to participate in martial arts. (I left something out there, watch to find out.) Learning mercy and the righteous path, Huo finds himself in a position to fight for the honor of China.

This film has a lot of moving parts that really present a historical piece that is actually one of my favorite genres. Huo is a real person, and these events of his life weave a very compelling story. The fact that he fights for the honor of China at the end is a stab at those countries that would dare impose themselves on others, as the fights suggest. The tribute at the end to the dojos that are dedicated to Huo and his principles is a nice ending for the film and the events that

Some of my favorite weapons fighting.

transpire.

The fight scenes in this movie are really what stand out though. The rings that these men fight in are very stylistically stunning. Especially the fight between Huo and the man who beat his father’s son, is ridonkulous. The poles and camera angles that effortlessly flow through the fight scene really caught me by surprise. I always knew that Jet Li was a phenomenal fighter and stunt actor, but this movie really pulled out all the stops. His penchant for stunts and choreography, especially the weapon related fights show a lot of discipline and knowledge that I admire. Not being a martial arts expert myself, I’ve seen enough martial arts and have read up enough about it to know Jet Li has got his shit in order.

This big white dude shows up far too often in martial arts films…

The success this film had and the amount of good reviews it is given are just, but I felt, as some others have, that the film had its down moments that kinda left it at middle of the road. Yes, it didn’t have the acting oomph that would’ve elevated it to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, but it was well above some of the straight to DVD martial arts films that’re out there. The story itself is inspiring and films like this are what make me wanna be a director. I’d equate it to a Cinderella Man type of film with the action and drama equalling each other out.

I am now psyched to hear that there are two other versions of the film, two of them depicting a more developed love/rejuvenation plot with Michelle Yeoh and a THAI BOXING SCENE. I wish they had included that in the theatrical version. My favorite form of fighting is Thai Boxing/Muay-Thai fighting. It’s one of the only forms that could take out Jet Li and I guess that’s why they were afraid to include it. I would still love to see a fight between Tony Jaa and Jet Li. Hell, Tony Jaa and anyone. Other than getting a bit of a boner over these martial arts masters, I thought this movie was very positively geared towards the Chinese community that Jet Li and director Ronny Yu were representing. It’s a great

Thank you Jet Li and Ronny Yu, for making a movie China can be proud of.

message to all those action stars from non-Asian countries. Back the hell off, we have pride, and that pride will stomp all over you. That message and this film deserves a 8.1 out of 10.


Rush Hour 2: Chris Tucker Returns

So right after watching the first Rush Hour, I was like, “Let’s spark up the next one.” These movies are great and I need to watch them all in pretty rapid order. I mean, come on, it’s Chris Tucker. And you may be postulating, “What if the movie was called Traffic Jam and it starred Jet Li and Chris Rock?” Well I hear what you’re saying friend, but then we’re talking about a movie that’s not funny in which people die quite quickly. Call it Traffic Jam if you’d like, I’ll still go for Rush Hour 1-3.

So, basic plot. Detectives Carter (Chris Tucker) and Lee (Jackie Chan) have teamed up again, except this time, it’s different. (Straight out of the trailer, right?) This time, Detective Carter is on vacation, right where the last one dropped off, in China. Good old Hong Kong. But while there, a bomb goes off on U.S. soil at the local American Embassy, and somebody sinister is to blame. Detective Lee takes on the case, pulling along the constantly, yet hilariously bitching and moaning Carter as they cavort through the streets of Hong Kong (and later Las Vegas) in search of those no good hoodlums.

Now this movie is a step up in acting in comparison from the last movie. Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan are golden. We lose Tom Wilkinson as Juntao, but we gain John Lone as Ricky Tan, the triad boss and former friend of Detective Lee’s father (although I would find it hard to believe that Lee and Tan are actually closer in age than would be Lee’s father…) I didn’t realize how great

John Lone

John Lone really was. He’s been in War, (shortly after RH2) The Last Emperor, Year of the Dragon, and even a remake at the start of his career as a bit piece in King Kong (Chinese cook, 1976). Now that’s a great career if you ask me, especially The Last Emperor, that movie’s fantastic.

What surprised me more that I had forgotten about was that Ziyi Zhang is in this film. With all the movies she’s been in, I feel like she must be the pride and joy of China (besides Jackie Chan). But Ziyi is great as Hu Li, the badass woman who takes no crap and destroys Chris Tucker. I actually would love to take a second to recap her amazing career:

Ziyi Zhang. Yes.

1. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Ridiculously good)

2. Rush Hour 2 (Great, reviewing it currently)

3. The Warrior

4. Hero (She’s worked with Jackie Chan AND Jet Li)

5. House of Flying Daggers (SO visually appealing)

6. Memoirs of a Geisha (Award winning)

7. Even TMNT (Voice acting at its finest)

So yeah, I would definitely think that Ziyi Zhang is a big deal. Her fighting is great and she’s really beautiful. Definite Top 10 actresses in my book.

We also have the amazingly gorgeous Roselyn Sanchez, the Puerto Rican goddess who has done her fair share of acting. She plays the sassy, no

Roselyn Sanchez. Puerto Rican Goddess

nonsense undercover agent with a smokin’ body, Isabella Molina. Although she doesn’t come in until later, this woman definitely lights up the screen.

Again, this movie is classic, suave, and full of Chris Tucker in a robe. What more could you want, I’ll throw something your way, sir. Comedy. And Chris Tucker has it all. Black comedy, situational quips and humor, observational comedy, rapport, slapstick. He’s got all that shizz on lockdown. Talk about your A-list comedian. The buck stops here with Chris Tucker.

Only the best.

I really feel like Brett Ratner and Ross LaManna have done it again with the sequel to a great movie. The moves and stunts this time are tighter, faster. Chris Tucker has picked up some moves. The Chinese girls are hot, spicy even. Ziyi Zhang brings a new kind of evil to the screen. The plot thickens and then disperses. And I can’t wait for the next one. 7.7 out of 10.