Stars: RZA, Russell Crowe, Batista, Lucy Liu
Genre: Kung Fu
I was a bit disappointed with this one. I didn't expect anything amazing but I still ended up getting less than expected.
I won't even really bother with a plot synopsis; it's about a blacksmith who makes really awesome weapons and then there's revenge and killing and yadda, yadda, yadda. It's your typical kung fu plot.
The Man with the Iron Fists does a decent enough job paying homage to kung fu films of yesteryear. And who better to make it than a member of the Wu-Tang Clan, a rap group heavily influences by kung fu flicks? Unfortunately, RZA is the only Wu member we get to see in here.
It kind of feels like this is RZA making his dream movie. I definitely feel that he was very genuine in his approach to this and it's probably something he's wanted to do all his life. That's awesome. And you can definitely see the influence from older films of the genre in here. From bad dubbing, to funny stick on facial hair, and everything in-between.
It's over-the-top in a very intentional way. Not as crazy as newer Japanese gore films, such as Tokyo Gore Police, but it's still pretty crazy for an American film. It's not trying to be a serious film, it knows exactly what it is and it roles with it. Hardcore fans of kung fu films will definitely find some satisfaction in here.
All, or most, of the blood seemed to be computer animated. I'm not much of a fan of CGI in films, especially when it plays a huge part. It looks bad. Maybe it's just me but I thought the blood was so stupid looking, and not in a good way. I understand that a lot of the scenes would have been hard to do with traditional effects, but hard work tends to have a bigger pay off. Really not a fan of the effects in here.
The fight choreography is decent I guess. It's nothing special though. There's a lot of cut-away shots and extreme close-ups and alternating angles during the fighting. I hate that. I'm a fan of long takes or some medium takes with just a few cuts. I hate when the camera angle is switching every three seconds. It's distracting, dizzying, and just annoying. One of the most important things I look for in a martial arts film is the actual quality and uniqueness in the martial arts, and quite honestly The Man with the Iron Fists has pretty mediocre fighting.
It's a shame that the camera work during the fighting is pretty bad, because there's a lot of times during the rest of the film where the cinematography is actually pretty awesome.
RZA composed most of the film's score. I was a fan of his work in Afro Samurai, and I loved what he's contributed to Wu-Tang Clan's earlier stuff (though I've never been much of a fan of RZA's solo stuff). It's pretty good here. You either love RZA's composing or hate it. I didn't mind it but I think it could have been way better. There's a few old Wu-Tang songs in here too, which was cool. There's even a nod to the Wu-Tang Clan song "Wu-Tang Clan Ain't Nuthing Ta F' Wit" when they mention that the Brass Body's fighting style is tiger-style.
Most of the acting here is pretty bad. RZA shouldn't of had the main role, he's a really boring actor. Batista is just plain bad. The only noteworthy performances here were from Russell Crowe and Lucy Liu. I'm a huge Lucy Liu fan so just the fact that she's in here makes the film enjoyable for me. I suppose the bad acting is keeping with the trend of being similar to kung fu films of yesteryear? Still, it didn't have to be boring acting.
There's a brothel that has some truly stunningly beautiful Asian girls. Seriously, they're amazing.
There's some cool scenes in The Man with the Iron Fists and for the most part it's enjoyable. But, quite honestly, it's nothing special. Almost everything in it is mediocre. It manages to have somewhat of its own style though, aside from the satirical parts, and RZA seems like he might have potential as a director.
Recommended for: hardcore kung fu fans, fans of any cast or crew