Iron Monkey soon proves himself a natural in the temple training arena. In a short time, he becomes a top student, at the expense of his peers’ friendship (as they are naturally jealous). Soon, the head monks inform the students that they must select a specialized martial arts technique. Naturally, Iron Monkey selects the fearsome Monkey Fist method, which is unrivaled in the martial arts world, except for Eagle’s Claw style. The Abbot sends Iron Monkey out into the wilderness where he is trained by the exiled Bitter Monk. In a year’s time, Iron Monkey masters the Monkey Fist and returns to the temple with confidence and ability. The Abbott welcomes him back, but senses that Iron Monkey is still motivated by hatred and rage. The Abbot tells him that he must alleviate his inner pain, and return to the temple a wiser man cleansed of hatred. The timing is perfect as the General’s guard intrude upon the Shaolin temple to recruit martial artists to the Qing cause. But the students and monks are loyal to their beliefs, and no one sells out—except for Iron Monkey. Like the hated betrayer of his father, Ho Yeng, Iron Monkey plans to join the Manchus and destroy their organization from within. His ultimate goal is to get close to the General, so he can assassinate the man responsible for the death of his family. But first he must prove himself.
The General doesn’t trust Iron Monkey and assigns him the task of hunting and killing suspected revolutionaries. Iron Monkey immerses himself in Manchu propaganda and begins beating and killing his own people! But, the Captains and the General take notice of his skills and behavior, and he is given a promotion. The Manchus still don’t trust him and orders him to kill more radicals. The more people Iron Monkey kills, the higher he rises in the Qing hierarchy. Eventually he becomes equal in rank to the Captains that recruited him. But he has still not achieved his goal of meeting the General. When the Manchus order Iron Monkey to crush the Shaolin Temple itself, he realizes he must finally make his move. He confronts the entire chain of the Manchu hierarchy, starting with the traitor Ho Yeng, to the Captains, and finally the General himself. However, the General did not earn his position for nothing. He is a master of the Eagle’s Claw—the only form of martial arts that can overcome the Monkey Fist.