The Man with the Iron Fists
- Rob Carnevale
- 4 December 2012
A gory kung fu action flick that quickly wears thin, from The Wu Tang Clan's RZA
RZA’s The Man With The Iron Fists boasts high curiosity value but ultimately proves much less than the sum of its parts. The feature debut of director, co-writer and star RZA (of Wu Tang Clan fame), the film is designed as an homage to the wuxia Chinese martial arts movies and jidaigeki period Japanese dramas of the late 70s and early 80s, as well as the works of the Shaw Brothers - all of which formed an integral part of the filmmaker's formative years. But while undoubtedly satisfying the fanboy in RZA, as well as the blood-lusts of both long-time collaborator Quentin Tarantino (who presents) and Eli Roth (who co-penned the script), this gory action flick is a one-trick movie that quickly wears thin.
Set in 19th century China, the story follows the fortunes of a blacksmith (RZA) who finds himself caught in the middle of feuding assassins, warriors and whores, all of whom want a piece of the Emperor's gold. Russell Crowe crops up as an enigmatic Englishman called Jack Knife, while Lucy Liu is good value as a scheming brothel owner. But any interest in the characters or their motivations is quickly negated by RZA’s insatiable need to bombard viewers with one fight scene after another, all of which carry the signature of legendary martial arts fight director Corey Yuen.
Most of the rest of the acting is hammy to say the least, or just plain wooden in the case of the film’s leading man, while the heavy-handed nature of the violence quickly becomes gratuitous and even unpleasant. It’s sure to gain cult status but it’s still a real mess.
General release from Fri 7 Dec.