More than anything else, what made me watch The Man with the Iron Fists is Quentin Tarantino’s name in the promotional poster. A Tarantino movie with Lucy Liu, Batista, and Russel Crowe, this should be badass! Sadly though, that’s already Tarantino’s primary contribution to the film. His name was only there as a “presented by” credit, probably to add more credibility to the movie and to lure clueless Tarantino fans like me. The director was really RZA, also the protagonist in the movie who according to my notes, delivered probably the most dull acting I have seen.
The plot is set in Jungle Village, a fictional Asian village with several animal-based clans who are constantly at war with each other. The story starts to roll when the governor asks Gold Lion (CheKuan-tai), the head of the Lion Clan, to oversee the transportation of his gold which would pass by the village. Of course, when money is involved, things start to get different and Gold Lion is assassinated by his aides Silver (Byron Mann) and Bronze (Cung Le) Lions. From here on, we meet different interesting characters with their own quests for love, money, and revenge. And oh, take note, this film is R-18 so expect a lot of blood, killing, and sex. But you’re probably already expecting that from a movie with Tarantino’s name on it.
See the blood and violence I am talking about?
The film had a lot of promise. Mix Kung Fu with a star-studded cast and interesting storyline and you would come up with a box office recipe. Yet in spite of having all these elements present in the film, it falls short in becoming the martial arts spectacle you would expect it to be. The fight scenes were a bit messy, not the kind that you see in Jackie Chan movies where everything happens so fast yet you can still make out the fighting choreography.
The CGI didn’t help much either. Instead of making the fight scenes look great, it ruined them. There was a part where our protagonist, The Man with the Iron Fists (played by RZA. I didn’t get the character’s name in the movie but Wikipedia says it’s Thaddeus), delivers his final blow to Brass Body (David Bautista) and the whole thing was a huge turnoff because of the special effects. Speaking of Brass Body, his constant transformation to metal whenever attacked is the biggest disappointment in terms of CGI in the film. Also, all throughout the movie, our main character narrates what’s going on, something I think was necessary only at the start and just became a nuisance as the film went on.
As expected, Russel Crowe and Lucy Liu were great as Jack Knives and Madam Blossom. They have a good chemistry and I think they were the redeeming factors in the film. Russel Crowe owns the scene whenever he’s around and his character adds a western feel to the otherwise dominantly Asian movie. Lucy Liu, as always, portrays her badass character very well, she was not one-dimensional and in the end you would wonder if she was really one of the bad guys or the good ones.
The other characters were loveable as well, except for our main protagonist and antagonist. RZA was dull and there was no point in the movie where I can feel him, not even the part where his arms got cut-off. Byron Mann as Silver Lion on the other hand, was trying too hard in being the bad guy, I got irritated more by his acting than his character. David Bautista was just okay, which is not a problem I guess since I think he’s in the movie more for his muscles than his acting.
I have to say though that the scoring is pretty badass. This just goes to say that RZA really is better in making music than making movies. But hey, it’s his first time to direct and it’s pretty impressive if you consider that fact.
All in all, The Man with the Iron Fists is a good movie, but it’s not one that I would say is a must-see. The plot had a lot of promise in it and the story was actually good, add to that high-caliber artists and some nice Kung Fu. The problem I think is that instead of putting these elements together cohesively, the movie became a mash-up of different ingredients that are good on their own but became messy when not put together properly.
Oh well, that Jackie Chan movie is still showing in the cinemas anyway. Credits to all the images used in this list goes to the The Man with the Iron Fists Facebook page. I do not own these images. No copyright infringement intended