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A 19th-century Chinese Robin Hood, the man known as Iron Monkey doesn’t move as if he were made of iron. He glides through the air, dances on his attackers’ heads, and—in this movie’s grand finale—balances atop a forest of narrow poles that just happen to be on fire. That’s the “monkey” part; the “iron” part comes whenever the plot kicks in. When not in his avenging secret-identity mode, the title character is Dr. Yang (Yu Ruan-Guang), an herbalist and martial-arts expert who lives chastely with Miss Orchid (Jean Wang). One day, another herbalist and martial artist comes to town: Wong Kei-ying (Donnie Yen), accompanied by his son Wong Fei-hong (played by a 10-year-old girl, Tsang Sze-man), the character who will grow up to be the hero of the Once Upon in Time in China series. The elder Wong is accused of being the Iron Monkey, and when an appearance by the real Monkey proves he’s not, Wong is assigned to catch the benevolent bandit. He has little choice, because the corrupt local governor is holding his son hostage. Ultimately, of course, Wong and the Monkey ally against the governor and his allies, including a renegade Shaolin monk. Director Yuen Wo Ping is best known as the action choreographer who got Hollywood’s attention with The Matrix and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, but he’s actually directed many films, including such early Jackie Chan hits as Drunken Master. He’s not much of a storyteller, though, and producer and co-writer Tsui Hark doesn’t seem to have helped him much. With its dazzling action sequences and inert narrative, Iron Monkey would be best served by being excerpted in a kung-fu flick equivalent of That’s Entertainment. —Mark Jenkins