Movie Review: “The Man With The Iron Fists” – Rhythm And Beatings

Written by Matthew da Silva November 12, 2012

After incorporating audio samples from old Kung Fu and samurai films into his music, main producer and leader from the Wu-Tang Clan RZA transitions into the field of filmmaking with “The Man With The Iron Fists”. Influenced by his vast knowledge of martial arts films, he transports us to a futuristic feudal China, where rival gangs clash in the streets of Jungle Village, where RZA utilizes his skills as a blacksmith to forge the weapons that fuel the fight for wealth and power. Backed by genre-mashing kingpin Quentin Tarantino and co-written by horror heavyweight Eli Roth, will the film have the same boundary-pushing prowess that brought RZA and the Wu-Tang Clan to the forefront of the rap scene?

Clan In Da Front

RZA is no rookie in the film industry. Starting his acting career in Jim Jarmusch’s “Ghost Dog: The Way Of The Samurai” in 1999, he has continued to act in a number of films and TV shows since then, and provided the soundtracks to many more. Though he may not be the most versatile actor on hire, his calm, stone-faced grittiness allowed him to move into the role of Blacksmith seamlessly, narrating the action in Jungle Village until the inevitable point where he must get involved.

Backed up by big names Russell Crowe and Lucy Liu, they fill the role of character archetypes that may be a bit cliché, but nonetheless completely badass. Crowe’s mischievous Jack Knife tied the characters together through his foxlike wit and humour, while Lucy Liu’s Lady Blossom held a subtle form of power in the form of her sexy sirens, akin to hearing the whispers of rumor in the ongoing battle in the village.

Unpredictable

This is not a movie to be taken seriously. If you go in viewing the film intent on keeping a straight face throughout, you will be disappointed. This movie should be viewed in the form of a poorly dubbed martial arts movie, an homage if you will, with a plot and character traits that rival the comical value of the overdubbed predecessors. Add in some supernatural elements and a stellar hip-hop soundtrack backing the action, and you have a film that blends a number of ingredients to make a smoothie of genres and influences, at once enjoyable even if there are some unrefined pieces.

It’s pretty clear that there were influences from Tarantino’s films, notably the Kill Bill series, where Tarantino blended his extensive list of influences effortlessly into the films. Where RZA direction style differs from this effortless blending is his lack of finesse, where some of his influences and ideas seem forced onto the plot. These moments always add to the comical absurdity of the film, though, not necessarily contributing anything to the plot but never taking away from it either.

Bring Da Ruckus

The soundtrack beats, compiled and partly composed by RZA, were the backdrop to the fight scenes and action in the film, setting the tempo and rhythm for the choreographed action on screen. Far off from the Waltz, these fight scenes were delightfully brutal, offering some laughable gory deaths and physics-bending movements backed up by rich, stunning sets that never failed to entertain.

Every action scene presented a different camera technique or style, at times disorienting due to the lack of flow but at least setting each action scene apart and slightly different to the rest. The screen cutting in the final action scene was at times hectic, but tied together the battles that each of the main characters faced in a quick cut, page flipping comic book style manner.

Visionz

This film is essentially an experiment. As a first time director and screenwriter, RZA tried to blend his influences and ideas into one concise plot, even if some of the ideas were farfetched. Even with its flaws, it’s a worthwhile experiment, and though it may not provide any grand revelations it’s sure to bring some exciting cracks and bangs along the way.

Rating: 7/10

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