Iron Monkey 2
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Amazon.com In Iron Monkey 2 (only loosely related to its predecessor), Hong Kong martial arts star Donnie Yen plays Iron Monkey, who's a cross between Robin Hood and a superhero. However, it's hard to determine what exactly his goals are because the movie is virtually incomprehensible. The story line--something to do with revolutionaries battling arms smugglers--is disjointed, the camera work is excessively wild, scenes change abruptly and without explanation ("Iron Monkey! What are you doing here?" "Never mind. Let's get the weapons."), the characters are broad and cartoonish, and the dubbing is unusually bad. Only the frequent appearance of astonishing hyperkinetic fight scenes--choreographed by the endlessly inventive Yuen Ho Ping, who came to fame as the fight choreographer of The Matrix--keep the viewer engaged. But the curious thing is that, after a while, this choppy movie starts to exert a perverse fascination. It doesn't become campy; instead, as it lurches from kung fu spectacle to strange moral pronouncements to out-of-nowhere high emotion, Iron Monkey 2 grows strangely compelling. It's as if, through directorial incompetence, the movie has been distilled to the basic elements of cinematic storytelling. While avant-garde directors like Jean-Luc Godard struggle to discover just this kind of raw, jagged, yet potent narrative, Iron Monkey 2 achieves it without even trying. --Bret Fetzer