Iron & Silk (1990 film)

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Iron & Silk
Directed by Shirley Sun
Produced by Shirley Sun
Screenplay by Mark Salzman
Based on Iron & Silk
by Mark Salzman
Starring Mark Salzman
Music by Michael Gibbs
Cinematography James Hayman
Edited by James Y. Kwei
Geraldine Peroni
Release date
  • January 1990 (1990-01)
Running time
101 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Iron & Silk is a 1990 movie based on the eponymous book by American writer Mark Salzman. It details his journey to China after college to study Chinese wu shu, better known in the west as kung fu, and to teach English. Though not trained as an actor, Salzman starred as himself, as did Pan Qingfu, who claimed no one else could portray him on film.[1] Salzman's experiences occurred in Changsha, Hunan, though the film was shot in Hangzhou, Zhejiang. The film was directed by Shirley Sun, and was the editorial debut for Geraldine Peroni.


Mark Salzman always was interested in Kung-Fu and the Chinese culture, claims to have seen every Kung-Fu movie. 1982, with a degree in Chinese literature, he visits a Hunan province Medical university in China for two years to teach Chinese teachers the English language. He learns the refinements of correct behavior among Chinese people, makes friends with his pupils, falls in love with the young doctor Ming, learns Chinese Martial Art, WuShu (similar Kung-Fu) from the famous teacher Pan... but also learns about political repression, especially when he's forbidden contact with some of his friends.


  • Mark Salzman as Himself (Teacher Mark)
  • Hangcheng Dong as Teacher Cai
  • Xihong Jiang as Teacher Zhang
  • Jeanette Lin Tsui as Teacher Hei
  • Qingfu Pan as Himself
  • Xudong Sun as Sinbad
  • Funglin To as Old Sheep
  • Vivian Wu as Ming
  • Yang Xiru as Dr. Wang
  • Xiao Ying as April
  • Hu Yun as Fatty Du
  • Lu Zhiquan as Teacher Li
  • Genyuan Zhuang as Teacher Xu


The movie gained mostly positive reviews, ranging from a "modest charmer; a true sleeper"[2] to "unsophisticated [and] bittersweet".[3] The movie was met with some criticism, ranging from "an unhappy teenager's fantasy of finally fitting in"[4] to "we're talking geekarama here".[5]


  1. ^ Kristof, Nicholas D. (January 22, 1989). "FILM; An Old Eli Performs As Kung Fu Star in China". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-12-17. 
  2. ^ Brown, Joe (March 8, 1991). "Iron & Silk". Washington Post. Retrieved 2010-12-16. 
  3. ^ Thomas, Kevin (March 8, 1991). "MOVIE REVIEW : 'Iron & Silk': Innocent Abroad". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-12-16. 
  4. ^ Kehr, Dave (February 22, 1991). "Ambiguous 'Iron & Silk' Is Cut From Different Cloth". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2011-03-29. 
  5. ^ Briggs, Joe Bob (October 9, 1992). "'Iron & Silk': Ok, It's Great Kung Fu But The Star Is A Wimp". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 2011-03-29. 

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