THE MAN WITH THE IRON FISTS: Movie Review
Go see The Man With The Iron Fists, I guarantee it will surprise you. There's laughter, plenty of action and an abundance of old school kung fu nostalgia that combine to make a film that's simply pure entertainment. Read on for my spoiler-free review.
We didn't cover The Man With Iron Fists on the site but in hindsight, I'd reverse that decision. This is the type of movie that should appeal to most of the people that visit a site devoted to movies based on comic books. If you're familiar with the Wu-Tang and RZA then you won't be surprised by what Iron Fists accomplishes. For those unfamiliar, RZA while obviously a hip hop producer, is a true believer of kung fu and trains under the legendary Shi Yan Ming -- master of the 1-inch punch which was measured to have the impact force of a 30mph car. That sentimentality is certainly reflected in the film which has a respectful reverence for old school kung fu cinema blended with a pulsating hip-hop soundtrack which combines to make for one exciting action movie. If you like Daggers 8, The Loot or the all-time classic Snake in The Eagles Shadow, then you'll love this modern spin that was clearly made in their likeness. As soon as the camera begins to roll, the action explodes and doesn't let up till after the the credits start playing. However, the film isn't without its flaws, RZA opted to play it safe and as a result he's rather uncharismatic as the lead actor and the plot can sometimes get lost when the action moves to the forefront. But with lead characters named X-Blade, Jack Knife, Silver Lion and Lady Silk you shouldn't walk into the theater expecting Cloud Atlas.
By far, Lucy Liu and Russell Crowe outstrip their fellow thespians, outshining even the main characters when they share screen time. However, it's Byron Mann that steals the show, his performance as the subtly over-the-top villain Silver Lion will become one of those cult phenomenons that's talked about for years. Martial Arts cinema purists will appreciate the recognizable names in many of the supporting roles with marital arts legends such as Chen Kuan-tai, Bryan Leung, Gordon Liu and even some cool cameos from Eli Roth and Pam Grier.
While I'm not too keen on RZA's acting performance, I'm thoroughly impressed by the script and his obvious directorial skills although I have to note Roth provided some support in a secondary capacity. There are definitely a few Quentin Tarantino sensibilities as well, especially in the nuances of the characters and their individual peculiarities particularly with Liu's Madame Blossom and Crowe's Jack Knife; those two characters would be right at home in a Tarantino film. Along with RZA comes a predominately hip-hop soundtrack that is a tad bit uneven, resonating well at times with frenetic fight scenes its distracting when the weapons are sheathed. As for the SFX, the use of wires is very limited as the decision to go with traditional fight choreography is the only way to maintain any credibility. The lone hiccup is when Brass Body goes full-on bronze which looked unfinished in a few shots. Aside from that, the SFX's were predominantly reserved for weapon fights and even those were limited to the few fighters that used cords, chains, etc. The amount and complexity of practical fighting on display brings a sense of realness that's sadly a rarity nowadays with the overuse of CGI and clever camera angles.
While The Man With The Iron Fists is not without its flaws, the film doesn't take itself too seriously, supplying pure entertainment from start to finish. The film certainly won't appeal to everyone but if you like martial arts films then this is a must-see movie.
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