The Man With The Iron Fists (2012)

Posted: October 13, 2013 in Drama
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man with the iron fists

In China, in the Jungle Village, a blacksmith named Thaddeus (RZA) is working hard to save money to move to another town with his girlfriend, Lady Silk, (Jamie Chung)   a prostitute in a local brothel. The head of the Lion clan, Gold Lion (Kuan Tai Chen) is entrusted to guard the emperor’s gold.  Gold Lion is betrayed by his trusted assistants, Silver Lion (Byron Mann) and Bronze Lion (Cung Le) who kill Gold Lion.  Gold Lion’s favorite so, Zen Yi (Rick Yune) vows to avenge his father’s death.

One day, Jack Knife (Russell Crowe) an emissary to the ambassador drops by the brothel, and pays for three women and settles accounts with Madam Blossom. (Lucy Liu)  The gold is being guarded by Gemini Male (Andrew Lin) and Gemini Female, (Grace Huang)  who come to Jungle Village to have a bite to eat.  Silver Lion, and Gold Lion are lying in wait, and kill Gemini Male and Female.  Zen Yi is hurt in the fight and saved by Thaddeus, and taken back to the brothel.  Silver and Bronze Lion attack Thaddeus for guarding Zen Yi, cut off his arms, and leave him for dead.  Does Thaddeus survive?  Do Silver and Bronze Lion find the gold?  Does Zen Yi avenge the death of his father?

RZA, the writer of this incomprehensible piece of celluloid, should stick to writing rap songs, there is a beginning, middle, and an end to any songs, and songs make people happy.  If only that was true for this movie The story is long, meandering, with major lapses.  The gold moves from place to place, and nobody seems to know where it is.  There is voice over narration from beginning to end from RZA, that explains everything, and the story still makes no sense.  The romance between RZA and Jamie Chung is ludicrous, (and I don’t mean the rapper) the fight scenes look so staged it’s laughable.  There is a backstory about how Thaddeus got to China that is so long and torturous, let’s just say the backstory would not make you forget Django or  12 Years A Slave, and leave it at that.  While RZA’s backstory goes on forever there is no explanation of who Jack Knife is, until almost the end of the film.

I heard the first treatment of this film was 4 hours long, the pacing was slow as it was, it would have been mind -numbingly slow at four hours, there were already too many characters, sub-plots and unnecessary idiocy in this movie.  I haven’t even gotten to the violence, buckets of blood, splashing out like so much Kool Aid, not cool.  Have I talked about my pet peeve about women characters being prostitutes?  Well this film is shameless in that regard, all the women are prostitutes.  There is one female warrior, but she dies in the same scene that she’s introduced in, so that takes care of any strong female characters.

Now for the acting, if you can call it that.  RZA, wasn’t it bad enough that you wrote this, did you have to act in this swill too?  The genteel answer is no.  Lucy Liu is a long way from Kill Bill, Russell Crowe, just when I thought he was becoming a respectable actor again, after Les Miserables, he does this movie looking paunchy as all hell, and just slogging through a bad role with minimal effort.  The saddest part of the whole movie is seeing Pam Greer in a cameo, as RZA’s mother. Sad.  The actors all spoke in an American accents, they are all living in China, all of them sound like they’re from L.A, and New York, there’s very little Chinese spoken at all, that makes it seem inauthentic.

I grew up on martial arts movies, Enter The Dragon was a seminal movie for me as a child.  Bruce Lee took nonsense from no one and took on all comers.   Bruce Lee was a hero of mine,   Jackie Chan put humor in martial arts movies, in movies like Drunken Master. Jackie Chan is a hero of mine.  Stephen Chow took the comedy martial arts film a step further with Shaolin Soccer. I looked forward to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Hero, and House of Flying Daggers, I loved the wuxia style of martial arts, this movie makes a mockery of that style, and every other martial arts movie that came before it.  Why is Quentin Tarantino’s name on this film?  It’s an embarrassment, and it definitely diminishes him in my eyes.

Man With The Iron Fists.  Has many flaws to iron out.


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