Notable Cast: RZA, Russell Crowe, Rick Yune, Lucy Liu, David Bautista, Jamie Chung, Cung Le, Byron Mann, Pam Grier, Daniel Wu, Andrew Lin, Grace Huang, Chen Kuan-tai, Bryan Leung, Telly Liu, Xue Jing Yao, Zhu Zhu, Terence Yin, Gordon Liu
I should have known better. I really should have. "The Man With The Iron Fists" was simply too good to be true. Quentin Tarantino lends his name as a presenter, it's co-written by long time kung fu advocate RZA and horror guru Eli Roth, it has a cast of great memorable B-grade stars (and a few A-grade), and its story is obviously riffed off of one of my favorite silly Shaw Brothers vehicles "The Kid With The Golden Arm." I mean, this spelled awesome...or it should have. As it turns out, RZA's homage to classic kung fu comes off as an awkward modernization of the style rather than a true homage. It flounders on trying to do too much and, unfortunately, RZA's skills as a writer/director/actor are not enough to carry the film above some of it's charming qualities. It ends up being a rather head-scratcher instead.
The Blacksmith (RZA) has been making his living in Jungle Village by supplying weapons to most of the vicious gangs around, but he dreams for a life away from it all with the woman of his dreams Lady Silk (Chung). The problem arises that there was an upheaval in the Lion Clan and a corrupt son Silver Lion (Mann) and his brother Bronze Lion (Le) and the two plan to steal a shipment of gold that is being delivered through the village. Now its up to The Blacksmith with the help of a ex-Lion Clan member (Yune) and a drunken British knife fighter named Jack (Crowe) to stop them before they tear the town to pieces.
|Now with eye popping fight sequences!
|I kind of hope this is what Crowe is like in real life. A knife toting drunkard.
Then of course, we come to the second issue of "The Man With The Iron Fists"...the artistic choices by RZA. Far be it from me to criticize him going modern with this film, but...well it didn't work. Too often the film comes off as an awkward bastard love child of Shaw Brothers love and catering to American audiences' love of crappy editing to create intensity. It helps that the fighting is rather impressively choreographed by legendary Corey Yuen. It doesn't help that it was edited so poorly. Then again, rumor has it that RZA's cut of the film was four hours long and had to be edited down to an hour and half version for theatrical release...something RZA strongly disagreed with. It's obvious watching the movie too.
|Cat claw style!
Written By Matt Reifschneider