Sep 22, 2009 03:12 PM EST

Quentin Tarantino Presents Iron Monkey on Blu-ray

Quentin Tarantino Presents Iron Monkey on Blu-ray
It turns out that "Quentin Tarantino Presents" was not the bs that my cynical little heart expected and hoped it to be. It turned out that Quentin Tarantino has a genuine great love for the Kung Fu movie genre; he can name all of the directors, discuss their styles, recognize the director's fight choreography by action-sequence alone; he also has an Austin film festival where he brings out obscure movies for his fans to see.  Some of them become quite popular, and he likes bringing them out like that.

Iron Monkey is one of those.

In the United States, I believe we consider monkeys as sort of funny animal, e.g. Marcel from Friends.  However, I suspect in real life, if you have to live with them, they are not things you want to mess with. I suspect an angry monkey could be scary enough, and if you were a Kung Fu "master", you might base your persona around it.  I am not sure because I don't live with monkeys as a native indigenous species; and I am not a Kung Fu "master" - this is something that I suspect

Iron Monkey has the structure of possibly Robin Hood or Zorro. In the Quentin Tarantino interview, he notes that Iron Monkey's mask is the exact opposite of Zorro's; it covers the bottom of the face, up to the eyes, unlike Zorro's that covered the top of his head. There is an oppressive ruler, and Iron Monkey robs from the wealthy to give back to the people.

There is a new stranger who comes into town who is mistaken for the elusive Monkey, along with a young boy caught up in the action as well.  It turns out that for non-American audiences, the young boy is actually a historical much-loved character. However, the larger plot of the movie would be interpreted by the Hong Kong audiences as the adventures of Wong Fei-Hung. In this interpretation, the plot is around the Monkey himself, and is just "what the kid was doing before he grew up to be this great folk hero".

I was able to get that that from the bonus material on the Blu-ray; I didn't figure it out during the film.

Iron Monkey has brilliant fight sequences, courtesy of Yuen Wo-Ping, who you may know from The Matrix or Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; but he is really famous outside America for a zillion other movies.  It has a different vibe than Jackie Chan's stunt-based films, and it involves some of his wire-work as well as perfectly-timed incredible, acrobatic physical displays.

The picture and sound is phenomenal, and the Blu-ray contains both the Quentin Tarantino interview (9 minutes) and an interview with Donnie Yen, who plays Wong Kei-Ying.  Both interviews are good and short and do not go deeply into the film. They actually go deeply into the history around making it.

Iron Monkey was chosen for the Blu-ray treatment because it is a highly-polished, reasonably accessible Hong Kong martial arts movie.  With the mainstream success of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and the backing of Quentin Tarantino, it has cross-over potential to a wider audience.  If you think you might be in that audience, then you should check this out.

Rating - B

Purchase your copy today at or rent it from Blockuster Total Access

FlickDirect Movie Editor, Marco Chacon
Marco Chacon, Senior Editor
Marco Chacon isn't quite sure what he's doing here. Exposed to radioactive movies at a young age he has gained the proportional strength and agility of celluloid which hasn't proved good for much. However, on the Internet, it's opinion that counts (who needs facts!?) and Marco sure has one of those. Several, in fact. Some contradictory. He has written and published the JAGS RPG which you've never heard of. He's still waiting for Revenge of the Jedi to come out.

Favorite Films: Alien, Aliens, Casablanca, Citizen Kane, Kill Bill, Pulp Fiction, Terminator, Video Drome
Favorite Directors: James Cameron
Favorite Actors: Danny Divito, Edward Norton, Uma Thurman
Favorite Genres: Action, Sci-fi/Fantasy, Horror
Favorite Television:Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Firefly, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
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