Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 54% (Critics) / 64% (Audience)
Directed By: RZA
Written By: RZA and Eli Roth
Starring: RZA, Russell Crowe, Rick Yune, Cung Le and Lucy Liu
Studio: Universal Studios
Synopsis: On the hunt for a fabled treasure of gold, a band of warriors, assassins, and a rogue British soldier descend upon a village in feudal China, where a humble blacksmith looks to defend himself and his fellow villagers. (Source)
I am a devotee of the old school Saturday kung-fu theater movies like the 5 Deadly Venoms, The Kid With the Golden Arm, and Chinese Super Ninjas so the concept behind The Man With the Iron Fists is right up my alley. The characters that make up the universe of this film are great…the different metals of the Lion Clan (Gold, Silver and Bronze), the mercenary Brass Body (whose power set is explained in his name), the Geminis, and the deadly and lovely ladies of the Pink Blossom brothel. RZA created a full and interesting universe of characters.
In the acting categories there were a few standouts. Russell Crowe and Lucy Liu were reliably good as Jack Knife and Madame Blossom, and former pro wrestler Dave Bautista made an impressive debut (for a wrestler) as the mammoth Brass Body.
It is also always a good move to cast Gordon Liu in your movie.
The film paid tribute to the old school kung-fu flicks of the 70s and 80s but the movie never fully embraced what made them so appealing. While The Man with the Iron Fists is a very slick, good looking movie it lacks any real soul to it. Whether it is the wildly uneven fight scenes that ranged from the horribly mediocre to the really cool or the choppy editing of the film or the vapid nature of the script. The movie just felt very empty.
RZA should have kept his talents behind the screen. As an actor he was a stiff, awkward presence who looked out of place in every scene he was in from just standing in the background to full on fighting. And even worse was that insanely thick Brooklyn accent of his. It was doubly bad because he also served as the narrator of the movie and nothing takes a viewer out of the make believe world of a 19th century Chinese village than hearing a dude speaking like he just got off the train from Flatbush.
Final Verdict: An homage to a genre of film I have a great affinity for, the Man with the Iron Fists is a serviceable distraction but lack of coherence in the script and direction coupled with mediocre fight choreography and some monumentally bad casting make this a movie not worth leaving ones home for. Wait for the home release and watch it from the comfort of your couch.