By Anthony Solorzano II
RZA proclaimed his love and respect for martial art films after the release of Wu-Tang Clan’s debut album, “Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers),” which he produced and included sound clips from different Kung-Fu movies.
It only makes sense that his directorial debut would be a stylistic-Kung-Fu-hip-hop homage.
RZA’s “The Man with the Iron Fists” displays his ability to beautifully choreograph a very stylistic fight sequence and create a unique universe that unfortunately, did need 30 more minutes of film time to properly tell the story.
“The Man with the Iron Fists,” starring Russell Crowe, Lucy Liu, Rick Yune and RZA himself, follows Blacksmith (RZA) in 19th century China who is forced to create elaborate weapons for the Lion Clan. The lower ranked leaders of the clan use the weapons to kill their leader and betray their village.
Because of the blood that was drawn by his weapons, the Blacksmith feels obligated to protect his people and stop the Lion Clan from destroying the village he calls home. With the help of the dead leader’s son Zen-Yi (Yune) and a British soldier on vacation (Crowe), the Blacksmith unleashes his inner-weapon: his iron fists.
After finishing “Fists,” RZA had 3 hours of footage that was later cut down, with the help of Quentin Tarantino, to a running time of one hour and 36 minutes.
The final cut of the film feels a bit rushed, with not enough time for certain characters to develop, weakening the story.
RZA comes out of the Tarantino film school, spending most of his time studying and taking notes on the set of Tarantino’s films, beginning with “Kill Bill.”
In “The Man with the Iron Fists,” one can see the stylistic method RZA has adopted from Tarantino, which at times seems to upstage the storyline. Regardless, the style is there and it is beautifully underscored by hip-hop beats with certain anachronisms.
In “The Man with the Iron Fists,” RZA wears many hats. Not only is he directing, but he is also the writer, the star of the film and one of the composers of the score.
This could have distracted him from focusing on certain aspects of the film, such as the acting.
There is a moment when Silver Lion (Byron Mann), the man who backstabbed the leader of the Lion Clan, is building up for a kill that is lost because the actor is mimicking the man he just killed.
Because of that comedic moment, the scene loses the serious undertone it was meant to have.
Being his directorial debut, RZA has shown his capability in creating a universe for the audience to be engaged by, but because of a weak script, “The Man with the Iron Fists” falls short of being a unanimous hit.
If he were to direct a script that was not his and was not starring him, this might have been a different review. Nevertheless, watch it and enjoy the universe RZA has created.
Courtesy Arcade Pictures
‘The Man with the Iron Fists’
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