RZ-Nay: ‘The Man with the Iron Fists’ Review
The Man with the Iron Fists could have been a great movie. But it’s not.
Marking the cinematic and directorial debut of hip-hop artist composer RZA, The Man with the Iron Fists is supposedly a gory, Tarantino-inspired love letter to old school kung fu while simultaneously serving audiences a healthy dose of macabre and unapologetic bloodbaths. What could have been a winning combination for a shallow, uninspired yet still entertaining action flick instead became a swirling mess of puerile, amateurish directing and storytelling.
The Man with the Iron Fists follows the tale of a prodigal blacksmith (RZA) who is forced to make fancy tools of destruction for radical tribal factions. As consequences rise and the warring clans continue to decimate each other and the surrounding regions in their war, the blacksmith harnesses ancient energies to become a living weapon and protect his people from the clans’ conflict. To do so, he calls on heroes from across the land and engages the tribes on his terms.
Pretty badass description right? If you take the time to look at any of the posters from the movie’s respectable marketing campaign, you’d probably cut yourself on the gross volume of knives. The entirety of the film’s action element revolves around knives and swords and sharp things of all shapes and sizes. Though it’s not an entirely novel concept in movies, the first time I saw the trailer for this film I thought it looked bat-shit impressive. A bunch of ninjas, knives, and steel knuckles? Sign me up. Sadly, aside from intricate set-pieces and a decent score, there’s nothing but missed opportunities, a juvenile script, and disappointing action sequences.
There’s little to be said of this film; it’s like a thousand others that could have been great attempts at low-effort yet incredibly satisfying action. Though there is a respectable and evident effort at creating complex and visually-compelling sets, costumes and weapons, they fall flat when paired with nonsensical dialogue and plot points. For a leading man, RZA’s story surprisingly doesn’t matter up until 40 minutes into the film. What’s worse, the token inclusion of a big-name star in the form of Russel Crowe as Jack Knife (yes, really) helps in no way alleviate the film’s snide reliance on half-baked fight scenes and mind-numbingly dull dialogue. As for acting ability, well, RZA manages to make both Crowe and leading lady Lucy Liu look terrible by association.
So no, don’t watch it.