The Renegade Rip

‘Iron Fist’ pays homage to retro kung-fu movies

Courtesy of Amazon.com

Courtesy of Amazon.com

Lucy Lui stars in RZA’s debut kung-fu action film.

Luis Garcia, Photographer

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It’s no secret that all things kung-fu rules everything around Wu Tang Clan’s founding member Robert “RZA” Diggs. RZA makes his directorial debut in “The Man With The Iron Fists,” a grand martial arts spectacle complete with all the impossibilities and mysticism of China’s 19-century fighting styles.

The director narrates and stars as the Blacksmith in the Cantonese 19th century village of Jungle Village. Forced to create weapons for all of the local violent clans in order to buy his wife’s freedom from her Madame (Lucy Lui), his life becomes more complicated when he nurses Zen-Yi (Rick Yune), the son of the murdered Lion Clan leader, back to health.

The good deed doesn’t sit well with Silver Lion (Byron Mann), the trusted lieutenant who puts out a hit on Zen Yi’s father. Now that he’s a walking target, the Blacksmith is forced to join with Zen Yi and notorious English killer Jack Knife (Russell Crowe) in an effort to bring down the Silver Lion and his invisible hired goon, Brass Body (David Bautista). They are in a race against time because the bad guys have stolen the Emperor’s gold, and that puts the Emperor’s army in a “wipe out the village” state of mind.

The film doesn’t feature any Oscar-worthy performances or Quentin Tarantino-esque dialogue (the film was “presented” by Tarantino), but what it does feature is a labor of love by the RZA. “The Man With The Iron Fists” is a retro homage to kung fu and Grindhouse cinema that flourished in the 1970s. It’s disjointed, weird, wacky, amazing, awful and brilliant again, but that’s what makes kung fu movies so entertaining. The film also brings a hip-hop sensibility to the proceedings, not only in the exceptional soundtrack, but also in the attitude.

The screenplay was co-written by Eli Roth, who directed “Hostel” and starred in “Inglorious Basterds.” His graphic style of gore clearly presents itself in the action scenes.

The plot can be confusing at times, and the cinematography could have been a lot better. The pacing is somewhat uneven and some of the fight scenes had choppy editing, but it makes up for it with a live-action anime feel.

I don’t consider it to be a flop. It’s purposely bad to an extent, but coming from a first time director, the RZA’s story line makes enough sense for the movie to work and for the audience and to appreciate the well-choreographed, blood-drenched action sequences.

If you’re a Wu Tang fan or martial arts fan in general, go out and watch this movie. For everyone else, this might be a hit or miss.

“The Man With The Iron Fists” is a perfect example of a popcorn movie, a film that doesn’t take itself too seriously and is only there to entertain a wide audience but it’s uneven.

Those able to look past its imperfections are guaranteed to have a good time.

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‘Iron Fist’ pays homage to retro kung-fu movies