Monday, 3 September 2007

Iron Monkey (1993)

Iron Monkey (1993)Somewhat breaks the convention of kungfu genre. The martial arts in wuxia - sometimes called sword play - can and do defy the law of gravity. And these movies take place in ancient antiquity. They all have long hairs (both men and women as ancient Chinese never cut their hairs in their whole lives), and they carried swords. Best examples of these are Crouching Tiger, or Hero. In kungfu genre, the martial arts tend to be grounded, both literally and figuratively speaking. They may bend the physical laws a bit, but not breaking it. Examples are Bruce Lee's movies or Ip Man franchise.

My way of looking at it is this, in wuxia people spending times in jianghu (literally means rivers and lakes) while in kungfu genre they don't. They still have the world of martial arts or wulin (literrally means martial forest).

These are just conventions, not rules. There's no martial arts police going around enforcing it, and fine directors who break these conventions.

Iron Monkey sets in a period between the 2 - the Qing dynasty, also the last Chinese dynasty and modern time (starting from Republican Era). These Chinese wore long pigtails (rather than done up in buns), and shaved the front parts of their heads, and they don't carry swords (unless it's part of their professions). So it's neither a pure wuxia nor a modern kungfu genre. Because it straddles between the 2 periods, its martial arts takes on the characteristics of the 2 coventions.

Yuen Woo-Ping is very adept at this gravity defying stuff, and in The Matrix where gravity is only a computer program, and so getting Yuen Woo-ping to coach these martial art scenes seems logically, both literally and figuratively speaking.

Trivia:
Ancient Chinese wore buns to put on headgear, while women could put all kind of decorations (not the least a pair of chopsticks)

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