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Iron Monkey
Just Wright
Late Spring

Posted 5/12/2010

IRON MONKEY As the fight choreographer for The Matrix and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Hong Kong film director Yuen Woo-ping helped introduce U.S. moviegoers to the joys of wire-assisted flying kung-fu action. His own 1993 Iron Monkey, a period actioner set in the mid-19th century, is CT,HD without the hidden-dragon part. That is, if CT,HD were a drama about the lives of ballet dancers, featuring brilliant ballet sequences, Iron Monkey would be the ballet. The plot: Fight. Fight, fight. Fight-fight-fight--fight! Fight? FIGHT! Fight; fight. That's, like, the first reel. Anyway, the Iron Monkey goes rooftop-bounding by night, robbing from the rich and giving to the poor. The corrupt and dastardly Gov. Cheng (James Wong) plots to stop him. The governor forces Wong Kei-Ying (Donnie Yen), a traveling pharmacist and kung-fu expert, to hunt the Iron Monkey. Wong befriends the big-hearted and remarkably agile Dr. Yang (Yu Rongguang) and his assistant, Miss Orchid (Jean Wang). And what do you suppose the mild-mannered Dr. Yang does when the sun goes down? Not that the whole movie is kung-fu fighting. There are breaks for kung-fu cooking, kung-fu table manners, and, in one acrobatic sequence, kung-fu paper-filing. It's all the same principle: Never, not for a moment, let anything hit the ground. (Tom Scocca) At the Enoch Pratt Free Library's Wheeler Auditorium May 15 at 2 p.m.

JUST WRIGHT You can say that again: Something New director Sanaa Hamri helms a script from Brown Sugar scribe Michael Elliot in which Queen Latifah plays the physical therapist who helps Common's NBA star get his game back after an injury--and maybe there's something else going on there, too. Opens May 14.

LETTERS TO JULIET Amanda Seyfried stars as a young vacationer to Italy who tries to reunite an Englishwoman (Vanessa Redgrave) with the long lost Italian love of her life. Directed by Bride Wars' Gary Winick. Opens May 14.

RIDE THE HIGH COUNTRY Sam Peckinpah's fairly standard 1962 Western stars Joel McCrea and Randolph Scott as two older, former lawmen turned hired guns trying to protect a gold shipment from the usual band of outlaw good-for-nothings--only one may be plotting to steal it himself. At the Enoch Pratt Free Library's Wheeler Auditorium May 15 at 10:15 a.m .

ROBIN HOOD The manly Gladiator team of director Ridley Scott and star Russell Crowe tackle manly screenwriter Brian Helgeland's take on the titular English folk hero and archery dead-eye. Co-starring Cate Blanchett, Max von Sydow, William Hurt, and Danny Huston. Opens May 14.

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