Iron Fisted Monk, The (1978) Review

"The Iron Fisted Monk" Chinese Theatrical Poster

“The Iron Fisted Monk” Chinese Theatrical Poster

Director: Sammo Hung
Writer: Huang Feng, Sammo Hung
Producer: Raymond Chow
Cast: Sammo Hung, Chan Sing, Lo Hoi Pang, Fung Hak On, James Tien, Dean Shek, Chiu Hung, Wong Hap, Chin Yuet Sang, Chu Ching, Casanova Wong, Hsiao Ho, Meng Hoi, Eric Tsang, Wu Ma
Running Time: 90 min.

By Perkele

Sammo’s directorial debut, The Iron Fisted Monk is somewhat of a very impressive start for his directing career. Even though it’s his first time, he handles the directing like an old-timer. The story moves on swiftly, and there’s enough superb fight action to keep fans of the genre satisfied. The fighting (co-arranged by Jackie Chan) is about as good as in his later films, or in other words, f*cking fantastic!

What brings the overall viewing experience down a bit, it’s the suddenly changing tone of the film. It begins as a nice action comedy with Sammo portraying a rather idiotic Shaolin student Miller Six (a real existed, historical kung fu hero) who fools around just like Jackie Chan later did in his smash hits Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow and Drunken Master. Early on Miller Six has a few cool bouts with James Tien and the famous monk San Te (the guy who Gordon Liu played in 36th Chamber, here Chen Sing). Then the evil Manchus come, and the film isn’t fun anymore.

The Manchus are indeed evil, brutally slaughtering innocent old man and lots of other people. The meanest and nastiest of them is who else but Fong Hark On (surprise!), and he really is a dirty bastard son of a bitch. Besides killing, he has a whole TWO distasteful and repulsive rape scenes, which are shown in great detail (that is compared to other chop sockies, not X-rated stuff). Hell, Sammo should’ve just present us a few hints that Fong Hark On is obviously determined to rape these young ladies, not the entire act, goddamnit! Showing him murdering nice people is depressing enough, but these brutal rapings almost spoil the film! Gladly soon enough Miller Six teams up with San Te and they have a spectacular fight with the best of the Manchu fighters and Hark On gets what he deserves.

First class kung fu-ery, only suffering from the few unsavory moments.

Perkele’s Rating: 7.5/10

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