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Bad Movie Tuesday: The Man With the Iron Fists and a Great Idea Gone Awry

February 26, 2013

The Man With the Iron fists movie poster


The Man With the Iron Fists (read John’s much more in depth review here) succeeds and fails because of it’s director/writer/star RZA. The dude creates a wonderful world full of violence and interesting characters but then makes it borderline incomprehensible by being WAY too stylish. RZA was seemingly given free reign to the castle and he used every piece of brick and mortar to assemble the film. Instead of him being a kid in a candy store he is a Kung-Fu fan mentored by Eli Roth in a blood and guts store. He gathered a plethora of action stars and martial artists and then attached them to wires, spun them around and edited the film like he chugged 17 Monster energy drinks while watching Crank 1 & 2. 

The Man with the Iron Fist eyeball punching


The reason I’ve included this film into the BMT ranks is because of what it could have been. It could have been a fight fest for the ages. However, it becomes an incomprehensible mess where you give up on plot and hope for more iron fists punching people.  When you have no idea what is happening in front of you it is hard to be entertained. RZA brings the violent boom and when he is punching out eyeballs it is evident that he lost site of the bigger picture. Punching eyeballs out is cool but when it is unearned and forced it is boring. Violence works in film when it is urgent and necessary. For instance, action classics like Die Hard and Predator put their heroes in danger and violence is the only alternative. It wasn’t totally glorified because it had to happen.

The big moment of iron fisting is anticlimactic because  RZA swings wild/slow haymakers that pulverize foes who know Kung-Fu but not rudimentary blocking techniques. The film reminded me of The Dark Knight Rises where two highly trained ninjas engage in a combat that can only be described as a bar brawl. Why bring in accomplished San Shou face kicker Cung Le and never let him kick? Also, WWE wrestler Dave Bautista is convincing as a big fella but all he does is pick people up and throw them twenty feet away. The throw always allows the person to escape or get off more offense. Why not crunch them in a trap of HGH and iron?

The Man with the iron fists batista

Sidenote: The Raid: Redemption might have wrecked action films for me. The Raid is a balls out brawl fest that feels real and bone crunching. I don’t see any action films being it’s equal anytime soon.

Iron Fists doesn’t let the camera linger and instead focuses  on the gallons of  blood exploding everywhere. In this film blood sprays, drains, mists, coagulates, streams and bursts in every conceivable way. Every kill is an excuse for blood to flow. The only thing I understood about the film was that the dialogue was bad and hair was huge. Also, whenever Russell Crowe was in the film it seemed like he was in another movie called “Thailand adventures.”

The Man With The Iron Fists Russel Crowe


I think the plot is about stolen gold and various killers who want the gold. There are double crosses, flashbacks and ninjas who crawl through dirt. Somewhere along the way dudes have iron bodies, Cung Le has permed ha, Lucy Liu is Lucy Liu and blow darts are a plot device. Also, the violence is shot incredibly close and doesn’t allow for anybody to know what is going on. I kept wishing they would place the camera in one spot and just allow the people to kick each other in the face.

The man with the iron fists big hair


Sidenote: The town hairstylist must make a lot of money. The hair steaks alone must cost thousands.

Also, While watching RZA I could only think about  his cameo in Coffee and Cigarettes. In that film he pulls off the confused stupor necessary when talking to a caffeinated, paranoid and table waiting Bill Murray. Watching RZA sit next to Murray as he chugs coffee from a pot was far more entertaining then watching people spin around on wires and face kick people. RZA needs to cast Idris Elba or Anthony Mackie next time he wants to put his alter ego on screen.

Coffee and Cigarettes Bill Murray and RZA


RZA will make a good film. He knows how to create interesting worlds populated with cool characters. However, he needs to turn the style down to 10 and focus on telling a story without gimics. The bell and whistles are loud and distracting which take away from story and plot development. I’m stoked for The Man With Iron Fists sequel told with a smaller budget.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 5, 2013 7:50 am

    I have no idea what these critics were talking about it was an entertaining movie

    • John Leavengood permalink
      September 21, 2016 6:46 pm

      I found it quite an entertaining movie, just a bad film.

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