Score = C-
The Man with the Iron Fists (2012)
(Action/Adventure/Historic / R)
Review by: Kisho Wolfe
Logline: Have high-profile friends, will make movie.
Let me start this review by applauding anyone who goes outside of their comfort zone to attack different projects. It takes focus, determination, and, dare I say it, pretty big cojones to attempt adding a sixth gear when the ride is already maxed out at fifth. With that said, let’s shift to second.
Wu-Tang’s RZA is world renown in the world of music and has been known to make the occasional guest appearance in random movies here and there, but The Man with the Iron Fists marks his first feature-length film of significant presence. The plot of the film involves a large shipment of the governor’s gold and a whole lot of folks that want it. The shipment sets off a domino effect of deceit and lies between clans, assassins and family alike. The Lion Clan is the main focus of the movie as Gold Lion—summoned by the governor to protect the incoming gold shipment—is assassinated by his mentee, Silver Lion. Where Gold Lion’s focus was peace, Silver Lion wants war. He appoints himself head of the Lion clan in the wake of their leader’s demise and is determined to bulldoze anyone in his path (and otherwise) to the incoming gold. Gold Lion’s true son receives word of his father’s murder and returns to the village for vengeance.
The plot unfolds through the eyes of Jungle Village’s blacksmith (RZA)– a former slave with a talent for creating deadly weapons– which, coincidentally, were wielded by both Lion and Wolf clans involved in the war. All he wants is to leave the town with his girl, but feels remorse for creating the weapons used in such a pointless war and decides to stay to help take down Silver Lion for his discretions. The story-lines played out very well in this movie. Everything had a point, and all the dots connected. Unfortunately, the majority of writing within the story reeked of yester-century. Lines like: “I’m gonna drill you like I drilled your whore!,” nowhere near compares to the tasty cheese factor of 80’s action movies and makes you seriously wonder just how cheesy the film was meant to be.
Speaking of aged fineness, the amount of gratuitous blood spatter and high school theater stage props throughout the film had me wondering why they didn’t just make the film into a stylish, animated film. It would have upped the movie points and definitely gave the film an unmistakable cool factor for RZA’s directorial début– even with the lackluster writing. The Man with the Iron Fists is a movie starring, directed and co-written by RZA. While having a hand in all the puzzle pieces, in addition to the music, one could not necessarily call this project a cinco-threat for the iron-fisted gent, thanks to some ill-fitting pieces.
Many high-profile actors were involved with the project; Russell Crowe, Lucy Liu, Rick Yune, Dave Bautista, Jamie Chung, Daniel Wu, Chia Hui Liu– this guy is a friggin legend and you shall address him as “Mr. Kung Fu,” Grace Huang, Eli Roth and a slew of other folks are in this movie. RZA probably had a bit of an “excitemident” from starring in a movie with folks he watched on-screen over the years. My biggest request would be that Mr. RZA takes many acting classes to do his future acting roles justice when these opportunities come along. The contrast in the now is quite staggering and simply embarrassing. If you’re going to be in the movie, be great in it!
There were plenty of comic-book- retro film transitions (a la Quentin Tarantino) throughout the movie, in addition to abrupt quick cuts to no-doubt bring the movie down to its ninety five minute mark, but I couldn’t help having that nagging familiarity with ninety percent of the movie. It was so familiar, in fact, I found myself asking if I had missed the Red Apple brand cigarettes… The Man with the Iron Fists gets a C- for decent action scenes, grand plot and overall acting from the veterans, but poor writing and acting from our main persona.