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
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: