The Man with the Iron Fists (2012) Movie Review


RZA in The Man with the Iron Fists (2012) Movie Image

If you’ve ever heard a Wu-Tang Clan album, watched a classic Shaw Brothers martial arts flick, or a Spaghetti Western and enjoyed it then “The Man With the Iron Fists” is for you. Throw in the quirky cinematic tastes of Quentin Tarantino and his ilk and this film definitely is an enjoyable journey.

Wu-Tang mastermind The RZA stars in his first directorial debut co-created by another Tarantino protégé Eli Roth. Between Roth and RZA they have created a unique story that definitely stands next to the films that it pays homage to. It’s a simple set up: the emperor’s gold is traveling cross country and must travel through the chaotic town of Jungle Village where martial arts clans are always at war. In the middle of all this is the town Blacksmith played by RZA who makes the weapons used in these battles. A major war for the gold is about to begin with the lone Blacksmith caught dead center.

Cung Le and Byron Mann in The Man with the Iron Fists (2012) Movie Image

Let’s face facts, no one is going into this to see Oscar winning performances and to be enlightened by art. They want crazy martial arts action in a slightly unique setting. They want insane fights to sick beats. And that’s exactly what you get. From the opening of the film’s credits which immediately evokes memories of 70’s martial arts films but with Wu-Tang’s signature sound, to the fights, the movie moves at a crisp pace, and tells its simplistic story all the while entertaining you. Having veteran fight choreographer Corey Yuen in charge of your chop sockey action doesn’t hurt either.

The cast is made up of a who’s who of martial artists and action stars including Cung Le, Rick Yune, Dave Bautista, Chen Kuan-ti, and Gordon Liu, but it’s Byron Mann, Lucy Liu and Russell Crowe who really steal the show. Mann and Crowe in particular stood out for me. Crowe who has pretty much played subdued roles for the most part gets to go a bit over the top sometimes and it’s great to see, and the mystery of whose side he’s on was actually well played. Mann as the villainous Silver Lion was a highlight, almost emulating Prince’s effeminate yet hard demeanor. The man has some pretty hair but you do not want to mess with him.

Lucy Liu and Russell Crowe in The Man with the Iron Fists (2012) Movie Image

RZA smartly played his character quietly except for the voiceover throughout the movie that was purely exposition but doesn’t hinder the movie. Speaking of RZA, he didn’t do badly at all for his debut. Other than some questionable over use of slide-panel editing towards the end I really thought he did a good job getting the camera where it needed to be and conveying his story.

I enjoyed “The Man with the Iron Fists” and it was exactly what I was expecting, a lovingly crafted homage to the martial arts films of yesteryear. I’d love to see what RZA’s original cut of this was like but I have to say RZA did good. In fact this was the first time in a while that I left a movie and wanted to go buy the soundtrack right away. I would love for this to get a sequel.

RZA (director) / RZA, Eli Roth (screenplay)
CAST: RZA … Blacksmith
Rick Yune … Zen Yi, The X-Blade
Russell Crowe … Jack Knife
Lucy Liu … Madam Blossom
Dave Bautista … Brass Body
Jamie Chung … Lady Silk
Cung Le … Bronze Lion
Byron Mann … Silver Lion
Daniel Wu … Poison Dagger
Zhu Zhu … Chi Chi

Buy The Man with the Iron Fists on DVD

Author: Dedpool

Movies, Comics, Anime and toons. I'm all about it. Love to read and write too.
  • Brent McKnight

    That’s all I wanted to hear. Stoked!

  • Tin Hoang

    I give this movie an A for effort and a C for execution.

    Unfortunately, I found myself bored. Not bored to tears like “The Four”, but bored enough to say to myself, “this is boring!” Yes, the plot was simple, but everyone going for the gold is all the plot you need. See Dragon Inn and Flying Sword of Dragon Gate.

    There was way too much pointless talking. And unfortunately, I didn’t think the fights were well choreographed either. They were probably limited by what the actors’ capabilities Only Lucy Liu and the black widows was well done.

    The third act was lackluster and disappointing to say the least. There was a little Enter the Dragon mirror room that came out nowhere, but had potential and then all of a sudden, the mirrors were gone.

    I get that he wanted to do an old school Run Run Shaw movie, but instead of picking and choosing wisely what to include, he decided to throw in everything, which ends up with a really fragmented film that has to use exposition to explain what’s happening.

    A major pet peeve I have with this film is Zen Yi (Rick Yune) who is the son of the assassinated Lions leader, but he fights with throwing daggers? WTF is up with that?

    • Dedpool

      I see your points. But as much as it was an homage to the genre he tried to do his own thing by adding the noir voice over. I actually liked that. I was never going into this expecting a Hong Kong quality martial arts flick even with the amount of actual amrtial artists. I was expecting a Kung Fu flick as seen through the eyes of Rza, and thats pretty much what i got. I mean it was the man’s first directorial film and it could’ve been a complete disaster, but I enjoyed it. The film had it’s flaws, no doubt, but it was still fun for me.

      As for Zen Yi, I just took him as the honorable son that didn’t want to be associated with the clan as they had some dishonorable dealings. That said The daggers were weak, he should’ve had swords.

      • Tin Hoang

        I wasn’t really expecting a modern HK martial arts movie. I know he was going the homage route to the Shaw brother Kung Fu theater movies, but it was still wasn’t done well. Granted this was his directorial debut. Just wish QT stepped in and help me clean it up a bit. There was lots of potential here for this thing to be a great pop culture hit if it was sharpened up a bit.

        My take on the Lion clan was that they were good. Zen Yi’s father treated Silver Lion “like a son.” He was coming to avenge his father and take the clan back. They didn’t become dishonorable until Silver Lion took over. That part of the story was really messed up. However, swords would have been a lot better than daggers.

        • Dedpool

          That i agree upon. The Lion Clan’s moral stance was a bit ambiguous. I just took them as a bunch of Bandits, and though Golden Lion was honorable, he was still a bandit. And i think knowing this the Emperor wanted to use them as opposed to the normal Imperial Guard as they were better warriors. Just because someone raises someone else as a son doesn’t mean they weren’t bad. Look at Lord Conquerer in “Storm Riders,”

    • Movie.King

      Excellent points

  • Darren

    what the fuck is russell crow doing in this?

    • Dedpool

      Crowe is the shit in this! Don’t let the outsider fool you!!

  • Lazz82

    REALLY want to catch this!

  • Jhonson

    I think its a good movie….i must watch it :)

  • Juggernaut

    This was extremely entertaining! From the fusion of hip-hop and kung-fu to Russell Crowe as Jack Knife there wasn’t a part of the movie that I didn’t love. Hopefully we’ll see a part two soon.

    • Dedpool

      Thank you for again backing me up. LOL. man I gotta come see you one day cause we would totally just bug out, and I’d bring the little one too.

      • Juggernaut

        We have to make that happen. Maybe next year’s NY comic-con if not sooner. Cartoons! Comics! Toys!I think the kids would have a blast together too! LOL.

  • MovieKing

    You obviously didn’t want the same film as I was watching. Yes, the fight scenes are great, but the narrative & continuity is dreadful. There is no way RZA knew how to get the most from the Mise-En-Scene; he probably conveyed what he wanted to the DOP & it was done for him. Like most of the film. Don’t get me wrong, it has it’s moments, & I applaud RZA for the excellent soundtrack & for the brave effort…but I suggest he sticks to his music career & leaves making movies to the professionals.

    • MovieKing

      Sorry “watch” the same film I did