The Man With the Iron Fist
Directed and Co-written by The RZA
Co-written by Eli Roth
Before I go any further, I want to remind our readers that I came up in NYC during the Reagan era. Like the Wu-Tang Clan and many of their peers, I came up on a heavy dose of Shaw Brothers movies, 120, hip-hop culture, blunts, and 40s. So when the Wu-Tang Clan jumped on the scene way back in 1993 and bum rushed the music industry, it was like 1988 all over again. To many who did not live in that time and place, the Wu-Tang was a breath of fresh air. When I heard that the RZA was directing and writing a Martial Arts movie, I was just as excited as any fan.
In the last decade, many Martial Arts movies from the east have been given major distribution deals in the United States and have garnered rave reviews from the hardest of critics. Some were awesome and some were horrible. As someone who grew up watching the Shaw Brothers and later purchasing bootleg copies of the epic kung fu flicks that came out of Hong Kong in the 90's, it takes a lot to impress me. While I didn't expect the RZA to garner any awards for his screen writing, I hoped that a Martial Arts flick under his tutelage would be great.
As soon as the movie began, I realized I was dead wrong. I tried to give it a chance. Maybe the story would be okay. Once again, I was wrong. I wondered if maybe the movie was a parody, but the RZA was dead serious.
My first gripe is that all of the main characters had the corniest of names. The leader of the Lion clan is: Golden Lion. Yes, he sported the Flinstones gold mane. His lieutenant was (drum roll please): Silver Lion. The RZA was just the Black Smith (it's not until later that we learn that his name is actually, Thaddeus - how antebellum). The Black Smith's girlfriend just happen to be a whore named Lady Silk. They all lived in the Jungle Village. I had to check my calendar. It is 2012 right?
If you thought the names of the characters were something thought up while sitting on the toilet, the dialogue was atrocious. "I am Mr. Knife, but you can call me Jack!" Exclaimed Jack Knife played by Russell Crowe who does a decent job playing the white savior (Geez, RZA you even had the British save all the colored folk).
I think what made the movie unbearable is that the RZA narrated many of the scenes. As an MC on a track, his voice sounds pretty dope. That doesn't mean that it should be used to narrate a movie. I think this was a terrible mistake on his part. He should have had someone else do this. If he was looking for a street edged type of narration there are so many people he could have used for this.
So I hoped that maybe the fight scenes would be off the chain. I mean, the RZA grew up on the Shaw Brothers too, right? Not even the fight scenes were mediocre. I gagged when I watched the Gemini clan fight the oh so fearsome Lion clan. The Gemini Female (once again that is her name) stood upside down atop the Gemini Male. Oh, the enemy was so scared. They stood this way for a good 5 seconds before fighting.
Again, I didn't expect the RZA to write an epic masterpiece such as Fearless or the Five Deadly Venoms. I did expect the RZA to put something together that stood apart from overrated movies like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. I was hoping to see some phenomenal choreography at the least. Unfortunately, the RZA fell short on so many levels.