A mysterious yet charming gentlemen (played by Russell Crowe) who wears the appearance of a gunslinger enters a brothel. He sees the mistress he wants to spend the night with. Problem? She’s with a large, undesirable looking client already. He walks up to her anyway and grabs her. When her client reacts….HE TAKES OUT A LARGE KNIFE, CUTS HIM IN HALF AND ANNOUNCES HIS NAME TO BE “MR KNIFE” So, without any knowledge of what subtlety is, does The Man with the Iron Fists know how to have a little bit of dirty, bloody dumb fun? Find out after the jump.
Set in a village in feudal China, a large group of assassins, deceitful warrior clans (led by the film’s lead villain, Silver Lion, played by Byron Mann), and a group of sexy yet deadly hookers with Lucy Liu as their Madame leader and the brass man (whose name can be taken in the literal sense) learn of a large shipment of the governor’s gold which is to pass through the their town. This group will do almost anything and chop off just about any limb to get their hands on it.
Standing in their way with the intent of preventing bloodshed and restoring good will to the village is Zen Yi (Rick Yuen), who also wants revenge for the death of his father caused by Silver Lion, a rouge British agent with an appetite for hookers (played, as mentioned earlier by Russell Crowe); and of course the film’s co-writer and director, RZA as a humble blacksmith ready to fight for what he loves. Can the gold be protected? Can peace be restored? Will vengeance and honour be satisfied?
RZA, arguably the most recognized member of Wu Tang Clan makes his feature film directorial début with The Man with the Iron Fists, a homage-fest that dons the styles of spaghetti westerns, blaxploitation and above all, the finest in Asian cinema (remember Monkey? You will after seeing the film’s lead villain). RZA is known in the movie business mostly for his contributions to film soundtracks, one of his more memorable efforts being the Kill Bill Volume 1, and the influence more than shows in this film.
This may be one of the silliest, dumbest, most insane movies to be released this year, it attempts to do a million things at once. However, the fun and success lie in the spectacle which RZA directs with flair and precision. Yes, this is pure grindhouse, but one of the tricks to a homage grindhouse flick (which many recent films of its ilk forget to include) is a story. If you’re going to incorporate silliness and unpredictability, at least have some form of a story surrounding it – which this film actually does. It’s a perfectly serviceable story that supports the more ridiculous moments in the film, some of which look like skits from 30 Rock or Saturday Night Live; but in a movie where anything goes and the intention is to just have fun, the film is a fine success.
The performances should also be commended, with Russell Crowe giving one of his best performances (I’m not kidding); forget brilliant mathematician or paranoid school teacher, his breezy, fun yet perfectly timed performance as the unpredictable Jack Knife is one to behold. Byron Mann also needs some attention, he camps it up with his performance as Silver lion, a villain who dresses like a member of Heart and looks to be the majority stock holder of glitter. He owns every scene he’s in…even if it looks like he’s about to break dance after every line he delivers.
The Man with the Iron Fists is loud, dumb but a whole heap of fun. This is how you direct an ode to grindhouse: two teaspoons of story, a pinch of character development and an entire bucket of sex, blood and weaponry. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
By Chris Elena
Writer(s): RZA & Eli Roth
Starring: RZA, Russell Crowe, Byron Mann, Lucy Liu, Rick Yuen
Runtime: 95 Minutes
Release Date(s): Australia: December 6, 2012; New Zealand: February 21, 2013; USA: November 2, 2012