MAN WITH THE IRON FISTS (2012)
They just don't make them like this anymore.
That's my opening line.
They still make horror films on a shoestring budget that wow us with their occasional gore brilliance. They still make the tough guy taking on an army of baddies with varying budgets and leading men... and they still make this, and that... but how many completely blood soaked kung fu (or if you prefer - Chop- Socky) flicks do they really make anymore?
The charm of the old school over the top 70s and 80s gifts of FU from across the pond have been replaced by growing budgets... and well it seems a now endless supply of movies about the life and times of IP MAN.
Editor's Note :Seriously. I get it, the man invented a form of kung fu and trained Bruce Lee. Cool. Then they made a killer movie with Donnie Yen. Then, um, they made like 6 more. Enough. Thank you (though dang it if Grand Master doesn't look very kool)
I'm talking the bone crunching, head ripping, arm tearing... [etc] of the badly filmed, horribly dubbed classics. Anyone remember the - popular for a minute- x-ray bone break? Boo-ya. Well, RZA has seen the lacking, and he and his buddy Eli "I will never forgive you for hostel II" Roth got together and cranked out a fun homage. Now for those of you that don't know, RZA and his friends... The WU-TANG CLAN, didn't pick their stage name by accident. They are huge fans of the old skool Fu. In fact for a time they were "presenting" many of the dvd releases of underground classics... or you know... close to's... RZA has mentioned many times that he wanted to make a film. Just. Like. This.
The RZA plays a blacksmith who gets caught up in a war between a clan, and the government. He makes weapons for both sides trying to allow the love of his life, who happens to be a.. um... "working" lady, to leave her employer. His skills are unmatched and everyone wants his weapons. Wouldn't you know it he gets more involved than intended, remembers the true way of the shaolin (he was taken in as an orphan don't-cha-know) and how to beat people up with chi controlled metal fists.
So, in the first minute of this film a man has his arms ripped off. By Cung Le. Then blood splashes everywhere. Then a few heads go flying, all behind freeze frame, classic letter style credits. Yup. No matter how horrible any part of the movie was after that, I knew I would be enjoying myself. This is more or less non-stop overthetopness. To make it even better the talent sprinkled in is nothing short of fantastic... Now in case you don't know some of the names, I'll include a "know for".
Chai Hui Liu : 36th Chamber of the Shaolin
Rick Yune : Ninja Assassin
Daniel Wu : The Banquet
David Batista : former WWE Champion
Cung Le : UFC fighter, Strikeforce Lightweight Champion
And that's some of the Kung Fu/fighter talent, what about Russel Crowe and Lucy Liu thrown in for good measure. I have never been the biggest RC fan, but he has so much of a good time with his role in this film I couldn't help but enjoy it right along with him. I imagine after all the serious work he has done this was the screen equivalent of a Teenager's first time with the the car keys... possibly without permission... :)
Yes, it could have been better. Some of the fights are not mindblowing choreography. The RZA is really, not that good an actor, at any point. He takes the one expression for everything, including limb loss, to new heights. The secondary "boss" showdown sucks, and David Batista as a man that can turn his body to brass, honestly, needed a little more fight time. BUT....
But. I think the attempt to bring something like this to the big screen and all the sneaky throwbacks, and just gratuitous gore, overrule the bad. If you like your old kung fu, you will dig this flick. If you Just wanna see Crowe unleashing his inner violent demon, you will dig this flick. If the line "If you want, I can have that half of him brought up to your room" makes you giggle, you will most definitely dig this flick.
The RZA does do a solid job directing this film. It would seem the films he's worked on, soundtrack wise, have served him well in picking up a few tricks. Including a couple of Tarantino's.
Movie scale 2.5 out of 5 stars.
Kung Fu scale 4 out of 5 stars.
Understand, this "4" is not based on the fights. But there is enough fun, and chaos here to bring a smile to most a foot to face fan.
Chuck the man with the iron fingertips Boonsweet saying...