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The Man With The Iron Fists - Review

The Man With The Iron Fists

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 2 out of 5

WU Tang Clan luminary RZA makes his feature debut as co-writer, director and star of this gory action adventure but seems to have bitten off more than he can chew despite the presence of some solid support.

Inspired by the wuxia Chinese martial arts movies and jidaigeki period Japanese films of the late ’70s and early ’80s (including, most notably, the work of The Shaw Brothers), The Man With The Iron Fists is an extravagant, out of control mess.

And that’s despite being presented by Quentin Tarantino, co-written by Eli Roth and featuring Russell Crowe and Lucy Liu among its ensemble.

The plot takes place in 19th Century China in a place called Jungle Village where an honest blacksmith (RZA) and a British mercenary (Crowe) are caught in the crossfire between various warriors, assassins and whores all hoping to get their hands on an emperor’s gold.

RZA throws plenty at the screen, including lavish sets and lashings of blood and body parts, but struggles to keep control of the narrative because of a seemingly insatiable desire to keep bombarding you with action.

Hence, even characters that initially appear interesting (such as Crowe’s Brit and Liu’s brothel madam) don’t get the time they deserve to flesh out more memorable creations. RZA, meanwhile, is pretty wooden when it comes to the acting.

And while the action bears all the trademark extravagance of fight choreographer Cory Yen (of Transporter fame) it’s too outlandish and choppily edited to really leave you exhilarated. The extreme nature of the violence, too, eventually becomes unsavoury.

What’s left hangs largely on the curiosity value of seeing Crowe let loose and having some fun, and he duly obliges by delivering most of the film’s best moments.

But while cult status beckons and there’s a sense of things being so bad they’re actually quite good throughout, that’s still not much of an endorsement. A bad film is still a bad film no matter how watchable.

Certificate: 18
Running time: 95mins
UK Release Date: December 7, 2012