Master Chen (Lau) is formerly an esteemed practitioner of the monkey style kung fu and a successful opera performer, until he was framed by the corrupt Master Duan, who owns a chain of brothels and wants to claim Chen's opera as a new base for his new whorehouse. When Master Chen's sister gives up herself into becoming one of Duan's prostitutes in exchange for her brother's life, Chen ends up becoming a wandering drifter who lose all hope in life... until he meets Hsiao-hou, a former street urchin turned candy-seller who have great potential and skills to become the next in line as the new Master of Monkey Kung Fu.
This film is notable for being the centerpiece of the Museum of Modern Art's July 2018 exhibition, titled "The Grandmaster Lau Kar-Leung"
Mad Tropers Kung Fu:
- Animal Motifs: The film's fighting techniques revolves around mimicking the movement and style of monkeys, as the title states.
- Badass Teacher: Master Chen, a former Monkey-style Kung Fu master and opera actor who takes the young vagabond Hsiao-hou under his wing as a protege.
- Band of Brothels: One owned and ruled by the film's Big Bad, Master Duan. Which Chen's sister is forced to be a member off in exchange for his life.
- Combat Hand Fan: Early in the banquet scene, Master Chen is shown using his paper folding fan to beat up a bunch of punks, non-fatally and leaving the punks badly bruised.
- Despair Event Horizon: Master Chen early in the film crosses the horizon when he lose his pride, reputation, opera house, and even his dear sister, who willingly became one of Master Duan's prostitutes in exchange for her brother's life. Chen ends up becoming a hopeless recluse until he meets the enthusiastic urchin named Hsiao-hou.
- Disposable Woman: Master Chen's sister had some minimal development early in the film, but her biggest role in the film is to be killed off by Master Duan for Chen to become filled with vengeance and battle against Duan in the finale.
- Drowning My Sorrows: Master Chen after losing his reputation as an esteemed martial artist spends much of his days drinking, until he meets Hsiao-hou and decides to take the younger fighter as an apprentice.
- Everything's Better with Monkeys: The title of the film, the motif used in Master Chen and Hsiao-hou's training, and Hsiao-hou having a pet monkey...
- Fingore: After being forced to renounce his title as the Master of Monkey Kung fu, Master Chen ends up having his hands and fingers crushed to prevent him from practicing Monkey Kung Fu any further. He spends the next three years recovering, and even then he couldn't regain the same level of skills he used to have.
- Frame-Up: Part of Master Chen's downfall at the beginning of the film had him being framed by the corrupt martial artist and brothel leader, Master Duan, for having an affair with Duan's mistress leading to Chen's reputation being tarnished.
- Good Old Fisticuffs: Master Chen, Hsiao-hou, Master Duan and various faceless mooks all use their fists exclusively during fight scenes, even in the presence of other weapons at hand (for instance, one fight scene takes place in a hall with racks containing weapons including swords, halberds, and spears nearby).
- Handicapped Badass: Master Chen lose the function of his hands due to being crippled after his downfall early in the film, but retains his skill in kicking loads of ass in big fight scenes.
- It's Personal: Master Chen ditches his vow against violence and his Thou Shalt Not Kill motto when Master Duan killed his sister.
- Kick the Dog: Hsiao-hou, after getting on the bad side of Master Duan's thugs, is subjected to a brutal beat-down, culminating in one of the thugs killing his pet monkey seemingly For the Evulz.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: The final battle when Master Chen and Hsiao-hou takes on Master Duan and his thugs, respectively to avenge (in order) the deaths of his sister and his pet monkey. It Makes Sense in Context, ok?
- Team Pet: Hsiao-hou's pet monkey which is also his Morality Pet.
- Training Montage: Hsiao-hou training under Master Chen in the arts of monkey style kung fu.
- Word Salad Title: The "Mad" in the title (used in the film's original Mandarin title, 瘋猴 note as well) seems to be tacked on in the last minute. The movie had absolutely nothing to do with madness whatsoever, and only serves to mislead if the movie's sole monkey character had rabies. To be fair, "Monkey Kung Fu" does sound a little too generic for what is supposedly Lau Kar-leung's masterpiece.