Monkey style master Chen (Chia-Liang Liu AKA this film’s director Lau Kar-leung) has been tricked by gangster and brothel-owner Tuan (Lo Lieh), who uses his wife to act as if Chen has become so drunk that he’s assaulted her. The punishment for this heinous crime? Death. Death or Chen’s sister (Kara Wei) giving herself to Tuan and working in his house of ill repute for the rest of her life. As if that isnn’t bad enough, Tuan ruins Chen’s hands forever. He has destroyed his family, his spirit and his ability to perform kung fu.
Years later, Chen is sober and better known as a candy seller along with his monkey Ah Mao. A young thief named Monkey (Hsiao Ho) is watching him when some criminals attack him as he performs for some children. Monkey steals the money back and brings a meal to the old man to repay him for what he has gone through. Those same crooks return and kill Ah Mao, swinging the poor monkey by the tail and smashing his little body into a tree. Chen refuses to allow Monkey to get revenge, even physically stopping him from doing so and losing all of his money again.
Monkey soon begins to train with Chen and, much like many a Shaw Brothers story, he believes that he is strong enough way too quickly. Sure, he easily defeats the criminals, but when he faces Tuan, he barely escapes with his life. The only reason he lives is because Chen’s sister sacrifices her life so that he can run away.
At this point, the training begins again with both men needing revenge and learning that together, they are the equal of anyone.
This movie is great, packed with so many training scenes of how you learn monkey kung fu, as well as a deep sense of sadness, as Chen deals with so many slights and yet remains a moral man. The monkey death is absolutely terrible to watch and makes you want revenge perhaps more than any film in Shaw Brothers history.