The Man With the Iron Fists Reviews
Good Movie! The score was great. An interesting mix of hip hop, symphonic and other genres. The costuming, weaponry, set design were all great and looked great on film. This film had a lot of funny moments. As an adult, I can appreciate the humor from a dirty joke and they did them well. The fighting and action were awesome. The acting was okay, but I think the best job goes to Lucy Liu and Russell Crowe because they gave the best performances. Overall, the movie is just a fun flick to go rent on a Friday night. Lots of blood, decapitation, fun martial arts, subliminal dirty jokes, sarcastic humor, special effects, and a unique, urban take on the classic Kung Fu films we've learn to love over the years. This is not a movie you waste your time dissecting. You either love it or you hate. I took the movie for what it was and I loved every minute of it. It had everything an action flick should have, great action, great costumes, great weapons, solid plot and good actors.
In Jungle Village, the leader of the Lion's clan Gold Lion is summoned by the Governor and assigned to protect his gold that will be transported through the village. However he is betrayed and murdered by the greedy Silver Lion and Bronze Lion. Gold Lion's favorite son Zen Yi, a.k.a. The X-Blade, seeks revenge and heads to Jungle Village, but he is defeated by Brass Body and rescued by the local Blacksmith Thaddeus. Meanwhile the Gemini Female and the Gemini Male protect the Governor's gold, but they are vanquished by the army of Silver and Bronze Lion. The Blacksmith is abducted by the Lions and has his arms severed by Brass Body. However he is saved by the British Jack Knife, who is the emissary of the Emperor, and he manufactures iron arms for Thaddeus. Meanwhile the Governor sends the Jackal army to fight against the Lions and they hide the gold in the brothel of Madam Blossom. However, Madam Blossom and his girls form an army of black widows and together with Jack, Zen Yi and The Blacksmith, they fight against the Lions.
Quite simply this is another modern day homage to all those old Bruce Lee type kung fu movies (various classic scenes copied in this film), not just his movies but lots of various classic martial arts action flicks. The plot is your typical cliched revenge/fighting clans idea with huge amounts of overblown, ridiculously gory violence, bad hyper looking martial arts fight sequences, lots of bad extreme looking wire work, silly weaponry, silly looking characters with silly names and its all created in that retro 70's style.
Of course I can't rip on the film too much as you know what your getting into when you see the film. There is no beating around the bush or hiding from what this film is going for, it does exactly what it says on the tin and this is delivering super sonic bad assery.
My issue is the film isn't really a very good homage/film nor is the bad assery...errr bad ass. The whole thing looks pretty shabby frankly, there is no originality here and nothing particularly interesting as we've seen this type of thing all before. I don't really see why this went ahead, the whole thing is so corny and predictable, yes I know its suppose to be but I don't see that as an excuse.
The director gave himself the leading role for flips sake despite the fact he can't act or narrate dialog a tall. The rest of the cast and their acting is dreadful (not that I expected anything award winning) accept for Crowe who roars away as he does, dunno why he agreed to be in this though. His knife gun weapon thing looks completely out of place amongst all the ninja-like warfare going on around him.
There is this whole uneasy balance of real time action and fantasy which I didn't really like and I don't think it works. I realize Eastern films enjoy this stuff and it can add to the visuals but you never saw Lee resorting to shit like that. All the crazy ass wire work with people flying around doing super human things and then there's the big muscly guy who's skin turns into metal when attacked...huh?. So how come he has tattoo's...ah who cares.
It all looks bright and dynamic with good sets and they have recreated the retro look well, credits included. A kind of love child spawning from 'Kill Bill' and 'Big Trouble in Little China', yet so violent and claret heavy it becomes more of a spoof lacking any real tension. Thing is the action doesn't even look that good, more cheap n tacky, at least 'Kill Bill' was super slick, hell one of the films main characters turns into 'Jax' outta 'Mortal Kombat' for pete's sake! and that's the main plot!. It also begs the question...if your forearms were made out of iron surely they would be too heavy to move? very slow going, and why would that enable you to punch through walls and other metal objects?.
Its hard to review films like this really, its a homage to a certain genre which is suppose to be cheesy and kinda tacky looking. You can't take it seriously because of course its not meant to be taken seriously, on the other hand it is semi serious with its action and plot. I just wish they had cut down on the awful wire work and lost the character with metal skin, that guy really unbalances the whole thing. The fantasy doesn't really bond with the semi serious mega violence in my opinion, its just an awkward cocktail.
Why is this movie so bad? Well, the fact that the entire movie distractingly switches back and forth from English to Mandarin (I am only speculating) for reasons unexplained to the viewer, is the first of many head shakingly dreadful decisions made by RZA. But for a more in-depth breakdown, the following is a very brief (that is, if you enjoy long rants) analysis of RZA's first film:
RZA is no writer: While the classic Martial Arts film concept itself is interesting, the script co-written by RZA himself, as well as Eli Roth (Tarantino's protégé) is rather weak. Surprisingly RZA (only one of the best DJ's/lyricist alive) can't write dialogue to save his life. And while Roth has never been a master of the spoken word himself, it becomes all too obvious between which lines of dialogue RZA has written and which are insertions from Roth, when a character goes on a stiff 5 minute rant that ends with a rather Tarantino-esque one-liner. As for the story itself, the problem lies in that it becomes overly cramped with stupid subplots. Every time the story begins to head in a finite direction, RZA does his damnedest to add another idiotic twist, or have the character cease all action in order to spout out one more bit of needless exposition, complicating matters for an audience that was barely on board to begin with.
RZA is no director: Sometimes a filmmaker can get away with gratuitous violence because it is intricate to the story (or sometimes simply on pedigree alone). But when your story hangs on by a thread and your directing is suspect, the sporadic occurrence of intense brutality doesn't so much come off as shocking, as much as it adds to the clunkiness of the film. Now, RZA does use some stylized camera techniques that obtain a semblance of that cool-factor he is looking for, but yet again, problems arise when he uses them in excess.
RZA is no actor: Maybe the least important aspect of a grindhouse film like this is the acting, although there is something to be said for a self controlled actor who knows how to overact. In saying that, every scene with RZA, is almost comically stunted by his inability to hold his own around A and B-list actors and actresses. His own character must run the gambit of emotions here, from anger, to sorrow, to a man who is in severe anguish. So, if anything, his own script asks too much of him.
Something good: If you try hard enough, you can probably find something good to say about any movie...well, maybe except for "Grown Ups". In the case of "The Man with the Iron Fists"...um...well...the soundtrack is good (although, at times ridiculously misused) but this is to be expected since music is what RZA does (NOT DIRECTING).
Final Thought: I do realize the intention of a film like "The Man with the Iron Fists" is to champion a hardy slathering of over-the-topness, but that doesn't change the fact that this is quietly one of the worst directed films of the year. At times it's so bad that one would wonder how Quentin Tarantino thought it was a good idea to financially back this project at all. But on the other hand, it wouldn't shock me if it were to come to light that Tarantino had given RZA the money, called up a few of his actor buddies, and told Eli Roth to make his script readable, as a repayment for RZA's work on the Kill Bill soundtracks.
Written by Markus Robinson, Edited by Nicole I. Ashland
Follow me on Twitter @moviesmarkus
The plot is just terribly messy, characters were cheese and the dialogue? You can't tell whether RZA was aware of the parody or if he was actually trying.
The film BARELY stands as a martial arts flick, let alone something with substance. Often I wonder how someone with such little talent gets the funding for something with such high production values.
Oh wait I know, be a famous GANGSTA RAPPA FROM THE HOOD.
I give it an extra half star only because I'm a sucker for martial arts and as an artist, I appreciated a lot of the costume design, environments and cinematography. Lucy Liu and Russell Crowe might've also had something to do with it.
Nate's Grade: C-
The best advice one can give to a neophyte director is to keep things simple and then move on to more complex scenarios down the line. It's advice that RZA ignores for his first film "The Man with the Iron Fists" and it shows, as the movie contains about 49 protagonists and borrows from just as many sources, making this something of a mess. And unlike many rappers, RZA has little screen presence. But all is not lost here, as the action scenes are well devised with a particular delight being the hall of mirrors sequence, even if the climactic sequence does raise a red flag or two. And then there is Russell Crowe having fun channeling his one-time co-star Oliver Reed.
RZA reminded me a lot of Jamie Foxx's DJANGO character. Russell Crowe reminded me a bit of Clint Eastwood Sergio Leone Cowboy type and Christoph Waltz from DJANGO. When RZA and Crowe team up, it reminded me of DJANGO. I felt like Lucy Liu played the same kind of character that she played in Kill Bill. It was nice seeing Rick Yune play a good guy. Dave Bautista reminded me of Lou Ferrigno's Hulk. It was good seeing Pam Grier in her small supporting role in the film.
Not sure if they are gonna do a sequel to this film. If they do, I hope they develop the characters better in the sequel then here.