Howdy ladies and gents, time for an unexpected film review. Now The Man With The Iron Fists was a film I wanted to see back when it came out in the cinema, but skipped it once I heard the bad reviews comes in. Ever since I’ve been curious just see what it was about, so I just finished it a little while ago and I have to report that it was not a joyful experience.
The story of the film can be described as the following:
“On the hunt for a fabled treasure of gold, a band of warriors, assassins, and a rogue British soldier descend upon a village in feudal China, where a humble blacksmith looks to defend himself and his fellow villagers.”
This story had potential and some interesting ideas but the execution is bad, silly, and downright unwatchable at times. I’m not sure if it is meant to be taken seriously or not, either way it fails on both fronts. I can see that RZA was heavily influenced about martial arts films of the past and really wanted to emulate those features in the story, fight scenes and presentation, however it comes across as messy affair. A lot of stuff happens in the film through lengthy exposition, choppy pacing and some things that happen with certain characters that don’t amount to anything. The blacksmith’s backstory especially comes out of left field and feels out-of-place in regard to the rest of the setting and plot and if it had been introduced early I think it would have had more impactful. It also doesn’t help that the film is INCREDIBLY boring at times with times where I was struggling to pay attention to what was going on. If this film was more along the lines of Kung-Fu Hustle then I believe it would have fared better.
When it comes to the cast they’re alright, but some are better than others. RZA as the unnamed Blacksmith was pretty bad, no offence to him but he’s no actor. When he talks his voice is a bit too low which makes him sound like he’s mumbling, plus he just doesn’t have the kind of screen presence or aura that feels like a main character who is meant to carry the role of a main character. Rick Yune as Zen-Yi, The X-Blade was good and I liked him even though there wasn’t as much of him as I would have liked. Russell Crowe is probably the best person in the film as Jack Knife, at first I wasnt overly keen on him because of the random and mysterious nature of his personality and random appearance in China, but then the character grew on me because Crowe committed to the role with style and humour. Lucy Liu as Madam Blossom was nice, Liu is beautiful, but her character is also very smart and aggressive and Liu handled her material well but I felt like she was underutilized.
David Bautista as Brass Body was alright, I mean he was charismatic and funny, but also pretty absurd, silly and didn’t talk that much. I’m glad that this wasn’t my first film with Bautista in it, he fared better in Riddick in my opinion. Jamie Chung as Lady Silk was pretty pointless and while she served a purpose, I didn’t care much for her, at least she was pretty though. Byron Mann as Silver Lion was great and besides Crowe looked like he was having the most fun with his role. Silver Lion is humourous, arrogant and a bit of prick, but these are the features that make him cool. As for Cung Le as Bronze Lion, I don’t really remember much about him.
As for the presentation, I liked be lying if I said that this department wasn’t my favourite part. I love martial films, I live for the beautiful choreography and well-shot action and this film has that but it’s not consistent. Some of the action sequences is great, with a lot of action going on and death and violence going down, but the problem is that the style goes from being serious to kind of silly and funny, plus it tries to imitate kung-fu films from the 70’s and 80’s that have a more comedic style, especially with the wire work, but that kind of style worked for the time period, but here it looks awkward and becomes distracting. The soundtrack RZA and Howard Drossin is alright and has some decent moments, but it felt a bit full-on with the hip-hop and not subtle at all. I would have prefered what RZA did with Afro Samurai.
So to conclude The Man With The Iron Fists is a film that has good intentions but fails to be very interesting. The fight scenes are pretty decent at points, but because of its uneven tone and over-the-top nature it is hard to take seriously or even enjoy as one of those “so-bad-its-good” kind of films. This is not a film I recommend even if you’re a fan of martial arts films, it’s just a bit too silly and there are much better films you could be watching.
Rating: 5/10 (A dull film with some decent spectacle on occasion)
So have you seen The Man With The Iron Fists and if so what did you make of it? Be sure to leave your comments below and I’ll see ya one the next review yo! 😀