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Iron Fisted Monk

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Neil 3.75 Sammo strikes Gold with Iron
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Sammo strikes Gold with Iron

Despite Yuen Woo Ping ( Drunken Master , Buddhist Fist ) getting so much credit as a fight choreographer after his Matrix work, Sammo Hung has and always will, hold a special place in my heart for his solid work on the other side of the camera. While he may not be as flashy as YWP he certainly knows his stuff when it comes to action. His wire work (Once Upon a Time in China and America ) may not be up to the standard of the more famous YWP, but his old school kung fu knowledge is wonderful to watch.

Anyone who saw Prodigal Son knows Sammo is no slouch when it comes to acrobatic, fantastic looking fight scenes and when acting, I'm always left in amazement at how such a large man can move so gracefully and not compromise power. Iron Fisted Monk is a nice little vehicle for Sammo to show off both his choreography, acting and directing in some exciting battles.

The story of the Manchu persecution of Shaolin Monks this movie is both a typical (not that its a bad thing) and different period Kung Fu flick. Typical in that it has the usual black and white version of good and evil. It has its comedic elements and it builds up gradually to a storming finale. Different in that it has a little more plot than your usual bad guy beats good guy, good guy trains with a master story typical of movies of this period. Let me put it this way, I find its more Fist of Fury than Drunken Master (although I have a friend who completely disagrees with that comment).

The fights as I've said already are fantastic. Sammo has the mixture of raw power and acrobatics down to an art, and as nice as it is sometimes to see someone go superhuman and fly around on wires, this movie is more grounded in its fight scenes and while it still has somersaults and high kicks its also sometimes fairly realistic in its kung fu moves - practical moves rather than moves good to look at. The end battle is truly something to behold. A huge 15min+ brawl that must have been a nightmare to choreograph and its one of my favourite parts of the movie.

If your a fan of period kung fu, Sammo or just looking to get into the genre then this is a movie worthy of 90 mins of your life. It's not the best work Sammo has ever done but as his debut as a director it shows the talent that would later come to fruition.

25 April 2004
by Neil

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