Expectations have such an influence on the movie going experience for good or for bad. Countless times I have walked into a movie expecting gold and have left with my head down. But it also goes the other way. Then there are some like The Man with the Iron Fists where you go into the theater expecting, for the lack of a better word, shenanigans. It is one of those movies you go into not expecting to take it seriously. A lot of the kung fu movies I am familiar with are borderline sci-fi/fantasy with the high flying fight scenes and that is how I evaluate these movies. Anything beyond the fighting is a bonus.
Here is a brief introduction to the plot of The Man with the Iron Fists: A small village in China with a secret gold treasure hidden underneath a brothel is about to be the sight of a kung fu showdown between the Lions (Chinese gang of warriors), a rogue British soldier, and some Gemini’s. This village is also the location of a weapons producer simply known as the Blacksmith (RZA). But the Blacksmith is not fond of his trade and is only doing it in order to save up enough money to free his love, Lady Silk (Jamie Chung), from the brothel’s owner, Madam Blossom (Lucy Lui). His trade is what ultimately gets the Blacksmith involved in the showdown when the Lions threaten his well being and Lady Silk. Click here for the trailer.
As mentioned earlier going into this movie I was looking for some great fight scenes and anything else is a plus so the fights are where I will start. There are some pretty cool fight scenes because of some of the gimmicky characters but nothing is really that memorable about the fights for any positive reasons. The only ones that stuck with my friends and I inspired laughter. Do not get me wrong, they are well choreographed and there are no visible wires (at least that I could tell) but it is just really over the top. For example, when the foot soldiers for the Lions are battling the Gemini Twins and the twins join their funky swords then one hops on the other’s shoulders and you hear one of the foot soldiers gasp, “Gemini style?!” It was impossible not to laugh an there are tons of these throughout the movie.
One thing about kung fu movies is that you do watch them for the acting. RZA hands in one of the worst performances of the year as the lead character in the movie he directed and co-wrote. I know I am being harsh considering the genre but wow. You would think RZA would have put forth more of an effort in Blacksmith to the benefit of his movie. I guess not though. His “I am about to have sex with Jamie Chung” face is the exact same as his “I just got my arms cut off” face. Perhaps that is Russell Crowe more than made up for it by embodying the character of Jack Knife. Knife is the only character that really has any depth and whose face has multiple expressions of emotion.
The story and direction is nothing special but it is not bad. You could see the Eli Roth influence in the writing which benefits the movie with some near Tarantino-esque action/humor of just blood going everywhere. Lastly I must admit, The Man with the Iron Fists was pretty well directed. It moves along at a good pace and the action scenes were really well shot.
The Man with the Iron Fists is what is. Not bad but not good movie that is still a fun movie experience as long as you know what you are going into. I give it a 6/10.