The Man with the Iron Fists.
Here’s some history. There’s a group called the Wu-Tang Clan. One of their members is RZA (pronounced “Rih-zuh”). He always liked kung-fu movies so he decided to make one. He wrote, directed, and stars in The Man with the Iron Fists, which is basically his project that he somehow got others involved with (including co-writer Eli Roth and producer Quentin Tarantino).
The gist. RZA stars as a blacksmith in a small Chinese town that is the center of a feud between several tribes. Lucy Lui stars as the head of the town brothel and Russell Crowe stars as a visiting ambassador. When the two tribes begin to battle, the blacksmith is caught in the middle.
There are some cool ideas here, as you can tell that RZA wanted to write a film that the fans would enjoy. When Bautista (WWE wrestler) shows up and his skin turns to brass, it’s pretty cool. The fight scenes are somewhat enjoyable once you get past the lack of any sort of realism. The score is mostly hip-hop and it’s an interesting contrast against the feudal Chinese background.
What doesn’t work?
The story is thin and doesn’t always make sense. RZA came up with cool moments in the film but there is zero connection between them. He’s like a kid that is telling a story that doesn’t make sense at all but the kid is super excited about. RZA’s passion is felt in the movie, as you can tell he was excited about it. But it doesn’t always translate well.
And then there’s the problem that RZA stars as the main character. He is not an actor. He’s boring to watch and almost impossible to understand, which is a problem for being the main narrator. When he’s on-screen, his passionate is not evident. He’s bored and tired and slow. When the main character is this slow, it drags the entire film down. With stars like Russell Crowe and Lucy Liu, it’s a shame that RZA sinks his own ship.
In terms of visuals, it was unimpressive. The choreography was decent but the wirework was very visible and the sense of realism was thrown away, which detracted from my experience. I was excited for Bautista and his body turning into brass but the CG was horrible when this happened and I didn’t enjoy those scenes hardly at all. If this were my dream project, I would’ve seen those scenes and said “NO! REDO IT.” But somehow, RZA saw these horrible effects and decided, “Yeah, that looks right.”
You can sense that this a project RZA was passionate about but like a child telling a story, their excitement doesn’t translate to you understanding what they’re talking about. The effects and acting were subpar and the fight scenes weren’t cool enough to sustain a movie like this. This movie might gain a cult following for being so bad it’s good, but for me… it was just bad.