on December 3, 2012
The Man With the Iron Fists is a movie that was 'presented' (not produced) by Quentin Tarantino and directed by RZA. It centers on the story of a black blacksmith in China, who is trying to leave his hostile home village that's entrenched in between good ol' clan wars.
If you are seeking to be entertained, look no further. RZA blends the 'hip-hop samurai' type of music and feel -- prevalent in a lot of anime in recent years -- with the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon-floating-around-style of fighting to create a high-flying (no pun intended) and adventurous parody of the genres with a Spaguetti Western flare. Needless to say, visually this movie is great in many respects.
However, beyond that, the movie suffers from more than a few noticeable stumbling points. The first being dialogue. Not only is the writing over-simplified, but the fact that some of the Chinese characters have Oriental-English accents while others speak perfectly clear English is something that will distract some viewers from the already simple plot. In addition, the main antagonist Silver Lion is portrayed as the funny one-liner villain, but there are times when his role feels overdone and out of place during the more serious scenes. Perhaps this harkens back to the older Kung-fu movie time other reviewers mentioned, but for me it was distracting.
Another caveat is the characters. They didn't feel very memorable, which is again probably due to the dialogue. The exception here is Russel Crowe's character, who exhibits wit, style, and the fact he sticks out like a sore thumb in a charming way. While I feel he did an extraordinary job in executing this role, I'm not exactly sure how his career will be affected in the long-run from this... You'll know what I mean.
Lastly, there were gaps in terms of the suspension of belief. While these types of movies are going to exhibit combat and visuals that are uncanny, a few of the developments toward the end, including one bad guy in particular, just felt like huge leaps of faith without any sort of explanation at all. I don't want to spoil anything, but again I think you'll know what I mean as you watch.
Now before I sound overly critical, let me tip my hat off to RZA. Not only did he direct the movie. He wrote it, helped compose the soundtrack, and starred as the blacksmith. This truly is RZA's movie in every sense of the phrase.
With so many responsibilities on one person, I can't help but critique this movie with admiration for it. It may not be on the Tarantino level, but if this is a beginning path for RZA I am excited to see what he comes up with next. Watch TMWTIF with the right expectations. If you're expecting Kill Bill or Pulp Fiction, take it down a good notch. If you're expecting a parody of exaggerated, oriental combat and hip-hop anime with Spaghuetti Western tropes, you're in for an entertaining ride. It's worth a watch, even if it doesn't etch itself into your soul.
on April 8, 2014
Having watched several of the Shaw Brothers classics during my day, I can definitely see where Rza got his inspiration for this movie. The only problem is, he created a bad Kung Fu fantasy instead of putting out a memorable film. As many people have already described this film in detail, I'm not going to go into the plot. But suffice to say, Rap music doesn't belong in a 19th century period piece. It just doesn't. Rza would have been better off getting the film properly scored instead of creating a Rap soundtrack for the background music. It was very distracting.
Second, Rza choosing to have an African American character in the film, working as a blacksmith, might have worked. The only problem is, he chose to play the role himself. I have to agree with what others have already stated. Rza is not a very good actor in general. Add to that his street flare as he delivers his lines, and you have a mismatch character who doesn't really belong in the story. As a result, It was difficult to buy into his role. Had he picked a seasoned actor instead, it might have worked out. But as is, this film was likely a life long dream of his, so I guess he had to fit himself in somewhere. In retrospect, it was a mistake.
I commend him, however, for tapping into the Asian American acting pool for his lead roles. Lucy Lui did well enough, as did Ricky Yune. Jamie Chung also appears in the film as Rza's love interest, but she doesn't really get enough screen time to leave her mark. It seemed like she was mainly there to give Rza's character a connection to the film. Russell Crowe also appears and his acting is always good. But in this case, he seemed out of place. His character was odd and seemed to be written in just to have an excuse for more star power on the screen. At least, that's the way it seemed to me.
The martial arts were OK, but they don't hold a flame to the HK classics from the 70's and 80's. My advice is, if you want a good Kung Fu flick, just go to the source. Either check out some Shaw Brother's films or look for some filmed by Golden Harvest Pictures. They have real Kung Fu stories that work while showcasing excellent Kung Fu. Rza's version is more of a Kung Fu parody that pays homage to the genre, but doesn't really hit the mark.
In the end I gave the film 2 stars. Rza did manage to insert some of the ideas you expect in a Kung Fu flick. He also enlisted the aide of Asian American actors, so he gets another star for that. But overall, this is not a great film. It's just too far out of the norm to be a good Kung Fu flick. All you're left with while watching this film is a lingering hope that it might improve. But unfortunately, it never does. Definitely a one time rental at best.
on November 15, 2012
fantastic movie! i saw a lot of very unique and fun kung fu ideas that could only come from a true movie fan such as the rza! there is a brass statue of a man that is in many movies as a training dummy for qi (chi) blocking attacks. in this movie there is the statue and a man with skin that can become brass at will, it links up toward the end in such a cool way i was blown away. i imagine the rza back in the 70's thinking "what if someone had to fight the qi training statue? then they would be really f*&%ed!"
i could see where he deliberately paid homage to old kung fu films with some of the camera work, hair and acting styles, this kind of thing might look odd too someone who hasn't seen older kung fu movies as some of it seems corny or stilted (which is how those old movies are, something fans love!). but even so, they would get over it every time one of the AMAZING battles started.
at first the rap music came off as out of place. this is coming from a wu tang clan fan since the 36 chambers, and digital bullet is one of my favorite albums, but they're in ancient china and it's all hip hop style which doesn't really match up, but it grew on me very fast and by the end i was bobbing my head to the beats and enjoying them with the fight scenes. i grew up listening to wu tang, and rza always puts cuts from classic kung fu movies in his music. it's really cool hearing them and then, years later, stumbling over the same lines or music while watching the movie they're from without knowing it ahead of time. it's like: "why do i recognize this? i've never seen this movie... oh yeah! wu tang!" this was the exact opposite of that and it worked pretty well! i'm watching a kung fu movie and thinking "wait a minute, i know that song!"
and the story? phenomenal! really fun stuff going on and lots of surprises. russel crow is a riot in this movie. i was thoroughly entertained. i love buddhism, kung fu, and i dig the rza's music so the scene at the buddhist temple had me smiling from ear to ear.
really great film!
on April 11, 2014
I normally don't list the storyline as it seems everyone else does. In this case I am not even sure what it was. I bought this movie because of the actors Lucy Liu, Batista and Russell Crow. The casting was excellent and the acting, score, and direction were actually much better than I expected. Sets & costumes were well done, too. Really, everything was well done but the action, which is kind of a big deal for this genre. The Action sequences in this movie were just not that good.
The Universal DVD contains both R-rated and Unrated versions, coming in at 96 & 108 minutes, respectively. The image is colorful and splendid with a nice 2.40:1 widescreen picture. Spoken languages are available in English, Spanish, and French, with subtitles in English or French. Special features include: deleted scenes, "A Look Inside...", "Path To The East", and "On The Set With RZA".
on August 27, 2013
Bad directing, bad acting, bad dialogue, bad special effects. Rza tries to squeeze in too many storylines and doesn't do a good job segwaying between these subplots. Which also makes the movie long and drawn out.
on March 16, 2013
If you have not seen this film, don't EVER watch this film! This is a complete and utter waste of time. With the expection of perhaps two or three of the main actors giving their all to roles they certainly knew were bad, there is really nothing I can say nice about this movie.
1. The story is aweful, that's putting it nicely because I could rant for an hour on how bad the story is alone.
2. The acting is just as bad. The only saving grace is watching Byron Mann (Ryu from the first Street Fighter movie) play a ridiculous character. To be fair, Russell Crowe and Rick Yune seemed to do their best at trying to save bad roles.
3. The music selection is distracting. Choosing to play nearly incoherent rap over unexplained scenes that supposedly impact the story line does nothing but distract from whats going on. In fact, there are entire sections of the film I can barely remember simply due to how disconnected the music was.
4. RZA, and everything about him. I may be unfairly bashing RZA (the actor for the main role and director responsible for this travesty), but every part of his involvement in the movie is most notably horrible. He can't act, period. When he is attempting to deliver dialouge he can barely be understood. The costume wardrobe he has for most of the film would be laughable if it actually felt like it was intended to be a joke (he spends about half the film walking around a beat up Chinese village dressed like Ezio from the Assassin's Creed games). His atempts at fighting are pathetic, like watching kids with a camera play power rangers. All the decisions for the film were his responsibility as the director and therefore I can aim all my disappointment squarely at him.
5. All the combat scenes are bad. I can appreciate the Tarantino style gore, but to actually do "wire-fu" this bad in a kung fu 'parody' goes beyond deliberate and into the realm of incompetent. The film could have been justified if all else were bad so long as it actually had engaging fight scenes (the movies it's based on were like that), but this movie fails on that most important ingrediant.
6. Lastly, it feels too long. At only 95-107 minutes (depending on which version you watch), the movie itself is not long, but it is so filled with extranious backstories, worthless side stories and explanations, and forgettable if not unhearable dialouge that the movie just grinds on forever.
It's sad to see so many good names drug through the mud in this film. Do not be fooled by the "Tarantino Presents", RZA was the director and main screenplay and story writer for this movie. Knowing that films like this can be done right (see Kung Pow: Enter the Fist and Tarantino's own Kill Bill) and that expectations for this kind of movie really shouldn't be that high, it is a total shame to see a movie like this take money that could have been used for much more worthy projects. DO NOT WATCH THIS MOVIE.
on March 23, 2015
If you like classic cheesy wire-style Chinese kung fu movies from the 70's, you'll LOVE this. It's got Quentin Tarantino style to it, lot's of gore, over the top characters, wicked moves, interesting characters, and more action than you've ever seen in a movie. It's like Pulp Fiction meets Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon with a dash of Resevoir Dogs and some B movie slasher flick LOL.
on June 26, 2013
One man's opinion - Let me start by saying I watch movies... a LOT of movies. On a given week I can easily view 15-20 movies - being permanently disabled has given me a lot of time on my hands. Secondly, I LOVE BAD MOVIES... not all bad movies, but generally speaking the cheesier the better. I love it when a bad movie crosses that invisible line between simply terrible to a new paradigm - what I like to call "So bad, it's good". Need an example, "Battle Beyond the Stars" or as I like to call it John Boy in Space!!! It's terrible, it's wonderfully, joyfully, nay, tearfully terrible. Watch virtually ANY Christopher Lee horror film from the 60s or 70s. You probably get the picture so I'll move on. I bought this supposedly "Tarantino" film expecting bad - I wasn't disappointed (in that).
It really didn't take very long to realize the only thing Quentin Tarantino had to do with this film was to make money off his name. The filming of this movie had nothing of his quirkiness or well thought out scenes, none of his witty script-craft, and none of his skill in bringing a film to the silver screen. What does appear on screen is a movie, poorly shot, poorly acted, poorly scripted, poorly organized, poorly scored. The "short of it" in Texas parlance can be summed up thus - a hot mess, bless their hearts.
How could this huge mistake have happened you might ask yourself (I sure did). When a film goes this far off the ranch you have to start with the basics - who wrote the film - they are ultimately responsible for what's presented. The film was written by Robert Diggs (East Coast Rapper and Wu-Tang Clan leader) and Eli Roth (of 'Hostel' and 'Hostel:Part 2' fame (ya, I missed those two too)). The film was directed by Diggs... and stars Diggs as well (or as he self-styled RZA - a moniker which in this movie's case should stand for Razzle (Dazzle) since the film has so little substance and so much flash). Mr. Razzle Dazzle also was responsible for the soundtrack (I know, big surprise there too). RZA was clearly over his head in every way imaginable, the writing is sluggish and uninspired, the directing is amateurish, the soundtrack commits the ultimate sin - its so poorly married to what's happening on screen it pulls you out of the movie, and the acting was flat. I can almost forgive RZA for his performance and ever-present hip-hop / hood-inspired language (what direction is 'Norf' anyway? That's right, I'm 'axing' you), but the deplorable job done by both once A-List stars Russell Crowe and Lucy Liu leaves much to the imagination (and what you fill in for their apparent lack of enthusiasm wasn't good). Crowe would seem to be going the way of Marlon Brando (all the girth and half the talent) and Liu's performance is a text book example of how she has gone from Lucy Liu to Lucy Who? If I could give the film no stars I would. It's not worth the cardboard it came wrapped in. I hope Tarantino enjoyed the cash given to borrow his name and I sincerely hope he actually reads the next script before cashing the check - in this business we call show, reputation is everything and this was most certainly NOT a Tarantino film. One or two of these and his fan base will take a walk (I hope your listening Mr. Tarantino, I'm still a fan... for now). In summary - Hot Mess, RZA=Razzle Dazzle, Lucy Who? and DON'T BUY THIS FILM, DON'T EVEN RENT IT - just walk away... run if you're able.
Bad movie, BAD movie - BAD MOVIE. PS - Hollywood - DON'T GIVE RZA MONEY (unless you are looking for a tax write off, then it makes sense.)
on September 24, 2015
I think the most disappointing thing about this movie is that it had so much potential to be great and it completely fell short.
The dialog was awful, some of the lines made me cringe with how cheesy it got.
The acting... was okay. RZA, should have given his role to someone else with more experience. Without trying to spoil the movie, some of the situations in the movie that should have been emotionally intense was met with a couple seconds of insincere screaming and then boom he's okay.
Some of the fight scenes are awesome though.
on May 11, 2013
Watched this with a couple of friends and it was unanimous - no one got into it, due primarily to being too boring, in addition to being just plain stupid and uninteresting all around. We were ready to call it quits on this 1/3 of the way into it.
Streaming consistancy and Audio/Video quality was good in HD version.
My suggestion for a better movie somewhat similar to this would be an action/comedy called "The Good, the Bad and the Weird", currently on monthly streaming service, and a kung fu drama/parody called "Kung Fu Hustle", on dvd/rental. IMO, this movie sucked compared with those. Even a repeat viewing of "Kill Bill" or "Smokin Aces" would be better than this I think.