AKA Dirty Chan, Warrior of Steel
Starring Chen Kuan-Tai, Ching Li, Wong Chung, Chu Mu, Tin Ching, Bolo Yeung, Yeung Chi-Hing, Pao Chia-Wen, Chiang Tao, Li Min-Lang, Wang Kuang-Yu, Cheung Ging-Boh, Chan Chuen
Directed by Chang Cheh & Pao Hsueh-Li
Man of Iron immediately sets itself up as a sequel to The Boxer from Shantung, but the only returning character is the street where everything happens. I’ve also heard the film referred to as a remake of the previous film, but this is also a misnomer as the stories are vastly different. The Boxer from Shantung is a re-telling of the classic gangster tale Scarface, but Man of Iron bears little resemblance to this rag-to-riches gangster tragedy. Instead, we just have Chen Kuan-Tai playing a character who wants to move up in the gangster hierarchy, but the characters themselves, while sharing some similar goals, are pretty far from being actually similar.
Man of Iron is set 20 years after the end of The Boxer from Shantung. The street and the people who populate it have moved on, and new gangs have grown to control the area. There are two major gang bosses: Chang Gen Bao (Chu Mu) and Yu Zhen-Ting (Yeung Chi-Hung). One day, Yu Chow-Kai (Tin Ching), the son of the gang boss Yu, is gambling and has all of his money taken by Qiu Lian-Huan (Chen Kuan-Tai), a man with a small gang of friends that’s tired of being small time. Yu’s son is a man who has inherited his place in the gangster world, so he is easily bested and intimated by Qiu, a man who has fought to be where he is.
But thankfully action films do not succeed on engaging stories alone, and that’s where the fights come in. The fights themselves are all quite fun and well-choreographed, with reckless energy and brutality that goes a long way. For instance when Chen Kuan-Tai is thrown against a wall and he lands on a thug, he doesn’t simply hit the guy once and move on. No, he elbows him viciously a couple of times in the stomach, grabs him by the collar, throws him into an open car door and slams the door on his body a few times. Then there’s the fight when Chen uses a bicycle as a weapon, at one point smashing a thug’s head through the spokes of the wheel… all before he rips off the bike’s chain and starts using that as a weapon! So yeah, the fights are quite enjoyable.
Man of Iron may not be a great film, but it is an enjoyable one that contains a lot of great, inventive fights. The drama is a little forced and the story itself could have used some work, but it’s an action movie that delivers fun action so you can’t complain too much. Definitely check it out if you’re a fan of Chen Kuan-Tai or gangster-based kung fu tales!
Next up in this chronological jaunt through the Shaw Brothers Martial Arts catalog is Chor Yuen’s The Lizard! See ya then!