Iron Monkey is 1993 Prequel to the smash hit Martial Arts film series of Once Upon a Time in China starring Jet Li, starring Yu Rongguang and Donnie Yen. The premise can be summed up in four words: Robin Hood. In China.The titular hero of this film is Doctor Yang Tianchun, philanthropist and master martial artist who runs the only clinic in town. He overcharges rich and corrupts patients and offers free care to the poor, by day. By night, he dons the Iron Monkey costume and goes around beating up corrupt monks and stealing money from the greedy politicians. Hero to the poor, menace to the rich.So, while Yang is busy patching up the guards he was beating the crap out of last night and making polite conversation with the man obsessed with catching him, a new doctor, Wong Kei-ying, arrives in town and is the victim of an attempted mugging. Wong Kei Ying is one of the Ten Tigers of Canton, the ten greatest warriors of Real Life 19th Century Southern China. Travelling with him is his young son Wong Fei-hung, who will one day inherit his father's Canton Clinic of Po Chi Lam and his title as the Tenth Tiger.Through a set of misunderstandings, Wong Kei-Ying is mistaken as the Iron Monkey by the corrupt local guards. At his trial, however, the REAL monkey shows up and wreaks havoc, and Wong fights with him, managing to stalemate. So, instead, the government hires Wong to take down the monkey. As added incentive, they take his son hostage and give him one week to do it.When the lecherous judge proved incapable of apprehending Iron Monkey, the corrupt Manchu government sends a treacherous Shaolin monk to replace him, setting the stage for a cataclysmic final battle atop a forest of poles in a literal sea of fire.It's implied that the Iron Monkey inspired the real-life folk hero.)
This film contains examples of:
- Anti-Villain: Chief Fox is the only character working for the corrupt government who isn't portrayed as a complete scumbag. Unsurprisingly he pulls a Heel–Face Turn towards the end.
- Bad Ass Book Worm: Yang who is a doctor and a guy who can beat up monks and guards without breaking a sweat.
- Crosscast Role: Wong Fei-Hung was played by young actress Angie Tsang.
- The Dragon: Hin-hung had two, an old man who was tougher than he looked and a scarred woman who was called 'Witch' or 'Ugly Virgin' by the good guys.
- Expy: Iron Monkey is basically the Chinese Zorro.
- Eye Scream: The Witch gets metal balls shot into her eye and she tried to keep fighting!
- Let's You and Him Fight: The Iron Monkey and Yang battle in the movie before joining forces.
- Virgin Power: Subverted. While The Witch is a virgin, she is unattractive and very psychotic. Despite this, she lampshades her virginity several times, and even declares that due to it, she has special "you cannot defeat me!" powers. Then she bites it.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Hin-hung had two Dragons serving under him, a scarred witch and an old man. We see The Witch buy it but the Old Man is simply knocked over with a pretty hard struck but it sure didn't look like a death blow and he was a tough one.