Plot: What’s it about?
Wong Fei Hung (Tsang Sze Man) is a young man taken prisoner when his father is accused of being the Iron Monkey, a rogue who engages in Robin Hood type deeds. But his father Wong Kei Yin (Donnie Yen) is not the Iron Monkey, instead it is a man right under the noses of the authorities, Dr. Yang (Yu Rong Guang). Not only does the good doctor moonlight as the Iron Monkey, but he also offers medical assistance to those he injures, all while wholly undetected. Yang soon breaks Wong Fei Hung out of captivity and soon after, he joins forces with Wong Kei Yun. After all, if the goal is overthrow the greedy and sadistic governor (James Wong), the more the merrier. But against such great odds, can even the Iron Monkey overcome and restore justice, or will the forces of corruption win out?
As much as I love Iron Monkey, it is hard to recommend this release, as it offers only the hacked up version that Miramax created, which is a shame. This version suffers thanks to numerous cuts, not just of violence either, but comedic segments that helped build and maintain the intended tone. Instead, we have a version that focuses on the action and while the action is indeed awesome, Iron Monkey loses so much in this transition. This is still a passable action film, but it feels disjointed and unrefined, all thanks to the butcher’s work by Miramax. Donnie Yen’s performance is terrific and as I said, the action is stupendous, but without the full vision of the filmmakers, a lot is left behind in this version. So Iron Monkey is highly recommended, but seek out an import version so you can experience the film as it should be seen.
Video: How does it look?
Iron Monkey is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. This is a good transfer, one that outshines the DVD, but falls in the middle of the pack as far as high definition content. The detail level is above average and shows a lot more depth than the DVD, but contrast is poor and that impacts the clarity to an extent. So while this is a step up from the standard edition, it doesn’t offer the kind of remarkable visuals we’ve come to expect from high definition.
Audio: How does it sound?
As with other recent Asian films released to Blu-ray from Miramax, the original language is given a simple Dolby Digital 5.1 option, while the English dub has a DTS HD 5.1 soundtrack. This is just inexcusable, given that most viewers will want to watch the film as it was intended, which means the original soundtrack should have a lossless option as well. The Dolby Digital 5.1 track sounds fine, but offers no upgrade over the DVD counterpart. In other words, no incentive here to move to high definition. This disc also includes a Spanish language track, as well as English and Spanish subtitles.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes two brief interviews, with Quentin Tarantino and Donnie Yen.