Movie Review: “The Man with the Iron Fists”
Published: Tuesday, November 6, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, November 6, 2012 21:11
In terms of plot, “The Man with the Iron Fists” may superficially seem like a fairly unoriginal martial arts flick. The story is that of a group of warriors intent on saving a village while reclaiming a chest of stolen gold. The heroes include a British soldier (Russell Crowe), a blacksmith (Robert Fitzgerald Diggs, known as Rza) and Zen Yi (Rick Yune), a young leader of the legendary Lion Clan. Other members of the excellent cast include Byron Mann as the villain behind the gold robbery and betrayer of the Lions and Lucy Liu as Madam Blossom, the brothel owner around which the story is centered.
The movie is noteworthy for being Rza’s directorial and screenwriting debut (the film was co-written with Eli Roth). Rza is better known for being a member of the hip-hop group, the Wu-Tang Clan. He is also responsible for producing the majority of the group’s albums. While Rza had previously acted in films, “The Man with the Iron Fists” proves to be an impressive entrance into the action behind the camera.
The film’s charm is its tongue-in-cheek representation of the martial arts genre. It is as much a comedy as it is an action film. The fighting sequences are absurd and overdone, and the editing jumps from traditional martial arts cuts to a style reminiscent of a music video with several panels on the screen and CGI-aided slow-motion. The dialogue is cheesy and shallow. The soundtrack shifts from the expected ambience to hip-hop. Characters change personas mid-fight as if several scenes were left out somewhere in between. The greatest surprise, however, is that this works.
“The Man with the Iron Fists” ensures that every moment, including any slower plot progression points, keeps the viewer’s interest. If there is no action sequence, there is certainly a ludicrous plot twist or a terrible line of dialogue that is simply impossible not to laugh at. These elements are done tastefully, since such interjections certainly have the potential to be annoying if overdone. The film walks that thin line extremely well, with the final product keeping a steady flow of entertainment throughout.
While the fight scenes are good, those who go see “The Man with the Iron Fists” with hopes to catch a standard action flick might be disappointed. But those who see it with an open mind will definitely be impressed. It is a film that tries (and succeeds) at delivering good fun without worrying if it will fit into a mold.