Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Robot Ninjas vs Dragon Zombies: Season One, Episode 8: "The Man With the Iron Fists"

Or, "The Bloody Mary Movie I Wanted Didn't Come"

His Fists Are Made of Iron

      RZA, a named spellcheck loves to tell doesn't exist, is a pretty big fan of kung fu movies. But you should probably already know that by now. In fact, you should pretty much know what to expect about The Man with the Iron Fists. After all, one character's main weapon in a mechanical knife that is also a gun. So, yeah, logic has kinda left the building. But does it work is a different story entirely. Directed by RZA and witter by RZA and Eli Roth (Hostel), The Man with the Iron Fists follows, well, the Man with the Iron Fists, a blacksmith who is also played by RZA (G.I. Joe: Retaliation), who is forced to take action against Silver Lion (Byron Mann, Street Fighter) and his brother Bronze Lion (Cung Le, Tekken), after the steal gold from the government, which threatens to destroy the small town they all live in. He teams up with the Lions' good guy brother Zen Yi (Rick Yune, Olympus Has Fallen) and government agent Jack Knife (Russel Crowe, Gladiator). Also joining the hunt for the gold is Madam Blossom (Lucy Liu, Kill Bill: Vol. 1) and her brothel girls, one of whom is the blacksmith's love Lady Silk (Jamie Chung, Once Upon a Time) and a man whose skin turns to bronze, Brass Body (Dave Bautista, The Scorpion King 3: Battle for Redemption). 

He got lost on the way to Les Miserables.
Sick Combos, Bro!

      RZA has made something undeniably entertaining with this tribute to old kung fu movies, with a little western thrown in for good measure. RZA knows how to set up the fight scenes and how to film them, as most are excellent and make the film worth the price of admission alone. The film isn't afraid to go a little more than crazy. Jack Knife's knife is an awesome weapon, as are the Blacksmith's iron fists. The scene where Jack Knife guts a guy and the scene where the Blacksmith punches a guy so hard he actually causes a small implosion are both easily the highlights of the film. It's here that I should probably note that I saw the Unrated and Extended cut of the film, which add about 13 minutes to the films runtime, though it's nothing all that incredible, other that a once deleted post credits scene. The acting side of things is a bit of a mixed bag. Crowe and Mann both come off very well, especially Crowe in what must a been a VERY fun role to film. Jamie Chung also does very well as a love interest that doesn't do a whole lot. Unfortunately, RZA isn't quite ready for a staring role as he underplay the Blacksmith to a fault  Also Liu is underused as what could have been a fun character. Theoretically you actually don't need more of a review than this. If you think about the kind of action in this film and you think that sound cool, you'll probably enjoy this movie. That said however, the movie isn't without if substantial flaws. 

The Really Extended Cut

      The film is sloppy. Even though it took RZA and Roth almost 2 years to fully write, the film never really comes together like you'd hope it would. Maybe it comes from the fact that the original cut of the film was FOUR hours long. Kinda hard to cut that down without making a bit of a mess. For the most part, the story isn't all that original, though it doesn't really need to be. The big thing though as with the very large cast of characters, the film does feel like much was left cut out of the film. It has that classic flaw of characters disappearing for long stretches of time with little explanations. This leads to some characters not getting enough screentime to really establish their arcs, like Liu's Madam. Her and the brothel girls get in on the gold action and if feels the most unnecessary out of all the characters. The girls are never established as fighters until the final fight and they hardly do anything when they get their. It all just feels like an excuse for Liu to be part of the fighting. The editing is a bit messy. It can be hard to figure out what is happening and at one point I think a scene was accidentally put in twice. On top of that, the middle part of the film slows the action down considerably, and the film doesn't do that well with actual storytelling.

Iron Man 4: Hands Off.
The Verdict

      The Man with the Iron Fists tries hard, accomplishes some but largely fails. When it comes to action and style, RZA certainly knows his stuff as the film is always entertaining. He might not be the best actor, but a strong-ish supporting cast picks up some of the slack for him  especially Crowe's Jack Knife, who is just as awesome as his name suggests. However, cut down from a much longer runtime, the film feels sloppy as the large cast of characters never really gets the chance to really get fleshed out. As a result, most of the characters motives are muddled or wasted and the story is never really all the clear. Overall, The Man with the Iron Fists is a really fun way to kill a couple hours and I would definitely say to check it out. Just don't look to closely. The Man with the Iron Fists gets 4 and a half stars out of 6.

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