Wonderful for a martial arts movie
So, where does a martial arts movie fit into the real scheme of things? I ask because Iron Monkey (the english title for this film) comes awfully close to the optimal example of the genre (I would argue, for those of you who have seen Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, that what you saw was more of an epic than a pure martial arts movie). In terms of what the filmmakers were trying to accomplish, they score very high.
Yet, we come back to the question at hand - such things as characterization and plot are not entirely ignored, and in fact, are treated relatively well, but they ultimately take the back seat to the action sequences. Is it even right to call the film "unbalanced" when it's not so much following a formula, as staying without a doubt within the boundaries of a genre?
It's completely a matter for debate, you see, so I just have to explain that, for me, a great movie is all about characters and solving problems. I cannot rate this one tremendously high because of its shortcomings there. But at the same time, it's hard to argue with how enjoyable it is to watch.
Mainly, the appeal is in the choreography and cinematography of the fight scenes. These craftspeople really know what they are doing, and play every trick they can to keep the fights fresh and interesting. It's very easy to be stunned by the fighting itself and not notice what's going on with the camera. I highly recommend paying attention there. The sense of space and framing would be great for a much more talky film, but with all the movement going on, the camera continually reacts, though hardly ever makes a nuisance of itself.
As I saw this on DVD, I should mention the two interviews on the disc. The first, with Quentin Tarantino, shows off his knowledge (and his bleach job), further confirming his obsession with genre films. He's a qualified expert, and I'm sure many of us would be fine if he stuck to making such commentaries from now on. The other interview is with star, Donnie Yen, and while he doesn't cover quite as broad a view as Tanrantino, we are given a brief insight into what a martial arts actor is all about.
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Review: Lightly Entertaining 5/10 mastadonfarm
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