Five Favorite Films with RZA

The Brick Mansions star talks about parkour and offers a killer fish recipe.

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One of the most influential hip-hop producers of all time, Robert Diggs -- better known as RZA of the Wu-Tang Clan -- has always had one foot firmly planted in the world of cinema. Since rising to prominence with the rap supergroup he founded with his cousins GZA and Ol' Dirty Bastard, he's continued on to score films for the likes of Jim Jarmusch and Quentin Tarantino, and just last year he made his feature directorial debut with The Man with the Iron Fists.

This week, RZA stars opposite David Belle and Paul Walker in Brick Mansions, a remake of the parkour-flavored 2004 French action film District 13, which was written and produced by Luc Besson. Speaking to RT about his Five Favorite Films, RZA admitted, "it's very hard for me to say five favorite films, as a man who watched thousands and thousands of movies. But I want to just give you five highly recommended films from me, and the reasons why I recommend them." Here, then, are RZA's Five Favorite Films:


The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola, 1972; 100% Tomatometer)

Number one is The Godfather. The Godfather, for me, is because it represented family. Even though this family was on the opposite side of the law, and they were criminals at the end of the day, they were family, struggling, an immigrant family in America trying to find their ground. One of the most compelling scenes to me in The Godfather -- it happens in Godfather II, actually -- is when Vito Corleone is young, and he comes home to his wife, and all he has is an apple. He rubs it, polishes it, and puts it on the table, and they appreciated it. You know, that is very powerful to me. Those films resonated with me throughout the rest of my life because of the family values they instilled.




The 36th Chamber of Shaolin (The Master Killer) (Liu Chia-liang, 1978; N/A Tomatometer)

The second film that I suggest is called The 36th Chamber of Shaolin, also called The Master Killer. This film moved me so much not only from the martial arts action and the philosophy of Buddhism that was instilled in the movie, but also the overcoming of oppression. Growing up, I knew that I was being oppressed; I knew the black man's struggle was oppressive in America, you know, reading Malcolm X and Martin Luther King. I knew of our struggle. But I didn't know that that struggle was all around the world. I didn't know that struggle was in all time periods. And when I saw this movie, it resonated with me in a way that I was like, "Wow, the government is just oppressing them, coming in and taking their homes, destroying their property. How they gonna win?" And from a single word, which was "Shaolin," our hero was able to go find himself and find the way to help bring the end to that oppression.




Pulp Fiction (Quentin Tarantino, 1994; 94% Tomatometer)

My third film I want to say is highly recommended -- and I'm sure many people have seen all these films, but I'm gonna tell you why -- is Pulp Fiction. Pulp Fiction was the first film to me that had a descrambling formula of storytelling, accompanied with the power of perfect dialogue. This moved me artistically. I remember watching this film for the first time in the movie theater, and seeing the character get killed, and then seeing the character come back... He was my favorite character, right? It was John Travolta; at the time, I'm a big John Travolta fan, and Sam Jackson was just breaking out on the scene, but I loved him in the movie as well. But to see the story go into its own twists and turns really resonated with me as an artist and kind of related to the way that hip hop tells our hip hop stories. That's why I suggest that movie. It descrambled the formula of Hollywood storytelling.




Carmen Jones (Otto Preminger, 1954; 74% Tomatometer)

A fourth movie I want to recommend is Carmen Jones, with Dorothy Dandridge and Harry Belafonte. First of all, the musicality of it, the acting, the dance numbers, you know. Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote a remarkable play [ed. note: only Oscar Hammerstein worked on Carmen Jones], but these people brought it to life in a magical way. And for me, the slang that was used by the females, and the power of a woman in that movie, when she drove a man to madness. [laughs] It was very magical to me. This movie I watched dozens of times; it's a very long movie, so to watch it dozens of times shows you that I've committed some of my life to this film.




American Gangster (Ridley Scott, 2007; 80% Tomatometer)

And the last movie I want to recommend is a movie that I'm a part of and it's called American Gangster. I started to say Man with the Iron Fists. [laughs] Man with the Iron Fists because of the power of dreams, to show that a kid who watched movies and loved movies could one day grow and work with his favorite actors, and bring a movie to life. But that'd be number six, alright? Number five would be American Gangster, because not only is it a film that I'm a part of, but the reason I'm so invested into this movie is because Hollywood invested over $100 million into a black man's story. This doesn't happen a lot. It's a story that captured a time in Harlem when drugs were rampant, music was growing, this whole culture was building up. And even though it shows a negative black man, it still showed the same thing The Godfather showed: the power of family. He did it for family. And it also showed the genius of the black criminal mind when it comes to being an entrepreneur and branding. He had a brand. And being a guy that started a brand like Wu-Tang Clan, when I heard how he made his brand Blue Magic and how he tried to protect his brand, and how he had to fight against others who were infringing upon his brand, it really resonated with me. Denzel Washington gave a great performance, Russell Crowe did as well, and that was a big breakout role for me as well, that movie.



Next, RZA talks about Brick Mansions, parkour, and a killer fish recipe.

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