Iron Monkey

Real Name: Dr. Yang

Identity/Class: Normal human

Occupation: Physician, outlaw, thief, revolutionary

Affiliations: Ho Orchid, Wong Kei-Ying, Wong Fei Hung, Master Fox

Enemies: Governor Cheng, Hin Hung "The Monk"

formerly Wong Kei-Ying

Known Relatives: Unnamed father (deceased)

Aliases: None known

Base of Operations: 19th century China

First Appearance: Siunin Wong Fei-hung tsi titmalau ("Iron Monkey", 1993)

Powers/Abilities: A highly skilled martial artist, Yang was a highly impressive hand to hand combatant capable of fighting multiple opponents simultaneously. He was a superior fighter on par with few others.

He was capable of astonishing physical feats and gravity defying acrobatics including leaping to great heights and over impressive distances. He was also a master of various weapons as well and frequently could even improvise weapons with various materials at hand. He frequently used small metal balls that he flung at impressive velocities as blunt projectiles, being capable of knocking a fully grown man off his feet at close range, or even crippling or killing with such weapons. He also utilized a chain-whip in combat as well.

Yang was also a highly skilled and competent physician. He was an expert in acupuncture but also concocting medicines and drugs. He was also ambidextrous and demonstrated his ability to write simultaneously with both hands.

History: In the 19th Century, the citizens of a small Chinese town suffered from failed crops and corrupt officials. By day, village physician Dr. Yang was the quiet and benevolent doctor who patiently tended to the sick. He refused no one in need, often giving away his advice and medicine for free to the poor. But at night, he became the masked outlaw known as Iron Monkey who robbed from the rich and the corrupt to give to the poor. His beautiful assistant Ho Orchid also assisted him in both fields, as his nurse by day and occasionally in a mask at night, fighting alongside Iron Monkey. His favorite target was the corrupt and unscrupulous Governor Cheng, while his regular opponent was the honest but bumbling Master Fox, the Head of Security who pursued him nightly (although sometimes you get the feeling that he didn't try too hard).

Yang was the son of a good and honest court official (which explained his superior education), but unfortunately his father had a number of greedy and corrupt associates who stole food and money. His father was blamed and executed for these crimes. This loss was the reason Yang created his dual identity - he later remarked "as long as corrupt officials exist, so too will Iron Monkey."

After his latest attempt to apprehend Iron Monkey failed, Governor Cheng ordered Master Fox and his men to arrest anyone who demonstrated any martial arts skills or any possible connection to Iron Monkey. They arrested dozens of innocent and hapless people including Wong Kei Yung and his son, Wong Fei Hung who had recently arrived to town. When Iron Monkey brazenly confronted Governor Cheng, Wong Kei Yung attacked him, believing him to be nothing but a masked outlaw. The two fought to a standstill. Afterwards Wong Kei Yung asserted that all of the arrested people should be set free as they could not possibly be the masked outlaw.

Cheng schemed to finally rid himself of the notorious law breaker and had Fei Hung thrown in prison. He promised to release him only when Kei Yung captured Iron Monkey, proving that he had no connection to the outlaw. Having no other option to gain his son's freedom, Kei Yung agreed. Kei Yung quickly discovered that all of the citizens of the town were against him. Isolated and hungry (all the merchants refuse to sell him any food), he was befriended by Dr. Yang and his assistant, Ho Orchid, who had learned of his plight. When Fei Hung fell ill in prison, Yang convinced Master Fox to release him into his custody to recuperate.

Things become complicated when Hin Hung, a renegade Shaolin Monk and now a corrupt Imperial Minister, came to town and promptly began terrorizing its citizens, beginning a reign of terror that far exceeded even Governor Cheng's worst acts. Both Wong Kei Yung and Iron Monkey battled him and his minions but they failed to defeat the powerful and deadly Monk, and both were dealt nearly crippling injuries. In the aftermath of his battle, Wong Kei Yung fled to Dr. Yang's to seek medical aid only to discover that the good doctor was almost mortally injured himself and incidentally the masked outlaw he had been pursuing. Kei Yung assisted in saving the doctor's life but admonished him afterwards to give up his vigilante ways.

But then Fei Hung was kidnapped by the minions of the Monk. Both Kei Yung and Yang put aside their differences to fight the true evil. With the assistance of Ho Orchid and some timely aid from Master Fox, they both combined their skills, narrowly managing to defeat their opponent, who fell to his death in a blazing inferno. Soon afterwards, Wong Fei Hung and his son departed for home, leaving behind Dr. Yang and Ho Orchid, and entrusting the village and its inhabitants to their protection.

Comments: The role of Dr. Yang/Iron Monkey in the film was played by Yu Rong Guang and was clearly inspired a great deal with the legends of England's Robin Hood.

The movie was produced by Tsui Hark, a famous Hong Kong director responsible for such successful movies as "Zu: Warriors from the Magic Mountain", "Peking Opera Blues", and "Once Upon a Time in China". The director was Yuen Wo Ping, who had been a stuntman before graduating to martial arts choreography in such films as "Drunken Master" (which made a star out of Jackie Chan) - he was also the action director for Keanu Reeves' "The Matrix", and was responsible for the stunts in "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon".

A sequel, Iron Monkey 2 was released in 1996 but was only loosely related to its predecessor and lacked a coherent plot to it. Also, it did not feature Dr.Yang as the Iron Monkey or even Yu Rong Guang. Some believe that this sequel was a sequel in name only and was in fact, an older film that had been re-released under the Iron Monkey name hoping to cash in on the popularity of the first film.

The inclusion of the characters of Wong Kei Yung and his adolescent son, Wong Fei Hung in the movie was a nod to one of the most famous and legendary Chinese folk heroes. Historically, Wong Fei Hung was well known as a highly skilled martial artist and healer. He was also known as a revolutionary who stood against the corrupt Ch'ing Dynasty. He never turned away a patient in need and was well known for defending the poor and the weak from both bandits and government forces. He was also famous as a prodigy in martial arts and for having developing an improved style of kung fu on his own. One of his more famous feats was to defeat a group of 30 men with only a staff which is probably why in the Iron Monkey movie, Dr. Yang is the one who supposedly first gave Wong Fei Hung his first instruction in how to wield the staff. There are literally hundreds of movies about Wong Fei Hung and his legendary deeds, perhaps the most famous being the "Once Upon a Time in China" series starring Jet Li, regarded as one of the best movies on Fei Hung (although not one of the most historically accurate or truthful).

Thanks to Michael Higuchi for providing most of the above profile. Thanks to Terry Hooper for providing the image.

CLARIFICATIONS: Not to be confused with

Any Additions/Corrections? Please let me know.

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