Iron Monkey [Eureka Classics] (Blu-ray Review)

A breathtaking action adventure from perhaps the greatest action choreographer of all time, Yuen Woo-ping s Iron Monkey combines mind-blowing fight choreography, with a classic story of courage, honour and sacrifice. Wong Kei-ying ( Donnie Yen; Ip Man, Rogue One), a physician and martial artist, is mistaken for a masked vigilante known as the Iron Monkey ( Yu Rong-kwong); a Robin Hood style hero who has been robbing the wealthy local officials in order to provide medical treatment for the poor. The two men must team up to defeat a corrupt political regime; and protect the lives of the people whose cause they champion. Presented from a brand new, stunning 2K restoration, Eureka Classics is proud to present this iconic martial arts classic making its UK debut on Blu-ray. 


I had to jump on the opportunity to review Eureka Classics Iron Monkey, as it is one of my favorite Asian cinema martial arts films of all time. It’s also one of the first films I ever saw Donnie Yen in. I knew he’d be a star someday, wink, wink. What some folks do not know is that Iron Monkey is the prequel to Once Upon A Time in China. Jet Li did not want to continue playing the roles, so they made this film instead. I have not seen OUATIC in many years, so I cannot comment on continuity between the films.

Iron Monkey, however, is the Robin Hood-like story of a Dr. Yang (Yu Rwong-kwong) who steals from the rich and takes care of the poor. All while under the guise of the heroic “Iron Monkey.” He cannot be beaten by the nefarious and corrupt police officials out there in the village. A rival doctor, Wong Kei-Ying (Donnie Yen) is unwittingly brought in, who also happens to know martial arts, to stop the Iron Monkey. Wong also has his young son in tow, who is also a martial arts master in his own right.

After getting their wires crossed and being forced to fight one another both doctors and son join forces against the forces that be. Yuen Woo-ping would eventually find greater success in the United States by choreographing the martial arts in The Matrix Trilogy. Years before, he used that special brand of “wire-fu” to send people flying in the air and defy the laws of gravity in very entertaining ways.

The fights are obviously the main attraction here and they are structured like a video game in that there are side quests along with various bosses here and there like the creepy witch character who is also a phenomenal fighter and weapons expert. It’s also cool to see how much trick photography was used in staging these insane fights. Tons of reverse photography, mannequins, wirework, etc., went into the creation of the fights. There’s a whimsical nature in Iron Monkey even though lots of characters get beaten up and sometimes killed.

I remember watching Iron Monkey as a youth and it was a fun film then and an even more fun film now. I have to really hand it to the folks at Eureka for the obvious care they have taken into restoring this martial arts classic for future generations of Asian cinema fans. For those that are already fans of Donnie Yen or the genre in general – this version of the film is quite possibly the definitive version there is.




Encoding: AVC/MPEG-4

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Clarity/Detail: I have watched this film on laserdisc, DVD, and a theatrical release — probably going on 20 years now and I have to say that this new Eureka Classics print that was struck from 2K elements is fantastic!

Depth: The film was shot in 35mm 25 years ago and in the old formats, the grain levels were a bit on the dirty side along with there being anomalies all over the place. Can’t say the same with this print. Grain levels are fantastic, with there only being a bit of softness here and there. It still looks like film and I was blown away at how clear and detailed the image was.

Black Levels: Black levels are quite strong and I only detected very minimal crush – nothing too intrusive or distracting.

Color Reproduction: The color palette varied to a degree. There are a few scenes peppered throughout that have a nice warm glow due to golden artifacts being sprinkled in the scene along with characters wearing fancy design works, etc. The main bad guy is very flamboyant in his attire and this comes through nicely as he has unmatched fighting ability.

Flesh Tones: Flesh tones were quite warm and everyone looked great. Sharpness levels were nice and no one looked like a wax figure. Even when our hero is starving in one funny scene, he never looks like he’s actually starving.

Noise/Artifacts: This one was shocking as much of the noise, dirt, and various other anomalies inherent to the source were taking care of without compromising the integrity of the film print.





Audio Format(s): Cantonese DTS 1.0, Cantonese DTS-HD MA 5.1, English DTS-HD MA 5.1

Subtitles: English

Dynamics: I did not watch the English dubbed version or 1.0 track, so my focus was on the original Cantonese 5.1 surround sound track. After watching Iron Monkey for years in various incarnations and formats, this Blu-ray lossless track is the best the film has ever sounded. The amount of depth and care that went into this lossless 5.1 track is astounding. It’s no reference disc but considering the source, I was shocked at how much more depth the audio track contained.

Low Frequency Extension: Lots of low-end magic populate the film and I was a kid in the candy store. The bass gave the awesome martial arts heavy sequences some added, pardon the pun, kick.

Surround Sound Presentation: The surround channels were active as there is a lot of information being thrown to the back of the sound stage. Literally. Bodies, tables, giant wooden splinters, etc., make their way from front to back in a crazy “swooshing” fashion that the surround channels handled quite nicely.

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue levels were clean and I did not detect any instances of crackle, clipping, or distortion. I prefer the original Cantonese track in 5.1.


The extras on this Eureka Classics edition of Iron Monkey are plentiful and insightful and feature relatively new content, but cannot be confirmed, because I did not see copyright dates. They may or may not have been published beforehand on a “Legends of Hong Kong” edition and licensed for this release. I did appreciate that the original language versions were included since I cannot stand English dubbed versions. The isolated music and effects track was a nice touch. I also liked the one on one interviews with the stars, producer, and director. If you get in early – the first print run will include a limited edition “O-Card” and a collector’s booklet featuring a new essay on the film.

  • LIMITED EDITION O-CARD (First print run only)
  • Stunning 1080p presentation from a brand new 2K restoration
  • Original Cantonese mono audio track (also available in 5.1 presentation)
  • 5.1 English audio track
  • Isolated Music & Effects track
  • Interview with Donnie Yen (20 mins)
  • Interview with producer Tsui Hark (25 mins)
  • Interview with Yu Rong-kwong (27 mins)
  • Interview with stuntwoman and actress Li Fai (25 mins)
  • Interview with actress Angie Tsang (20 mins)
  • Iron Fist (16 mins) A behind-the-scenes look at the action choreography of Iron Monkey
  • Shadow Boxing (8 mins) a featurette on Hong Kong action choreography featuring Alex Yip
  • Footage of Li Fai and Angie Tsang competing at the 2003 Wu Shu Championships
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • A collector s booklet featuring a new essay on the film (First print run only)


I would definitely infer this Eureka Classics edition of Iron Monkey is the best out there. For my money, it’s definitely the best the film has ever looked and sounded. The bonus materials just add icing to the cake in their inclusion and abundance. Iron Monkey is highly recommended! Please be aware that this is a Region B locked title – you will need a region-free player for proper playback.


Iron Monkey is released in the UK June 18, 2018!




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