Written by / 11/03/2012 / No comments / , , , , , ,

THE MAN WITH THE IRON FISTS

year: 2012 cast: Russell Crowe, RZA, Rick Yune rating: **
In most cases when an established director’s name appears before the word PRESENTS – in this case Quentin Tarantino presents THE MAN WITH THE IRON FISTS – it means they served as executive producer and the film will somewhat bear their directing style (think Steven Spielberg with POLTERGEIST or GOONIES). Well QT’s name is nowhere in any of the credits, including the story conceived by The RZA – who provided a fantastic soundtrack for KILL BILL – and Eli Roth co-wrote the script. But there are certain aspects, like the exploitative/gratuitous homage to the drive-in Kung Fu flicks, giving the impression the PULP FICTION icon is somewhere in the building: But that’s about where his signature ends.

Set in 19th century China we have a score of science-fiction (or comic book) elements: a man who can morph into steel, weapons with a variety of functions, and people flying around like twirling bats. Suspension of disbelief is essential and you should ignore all the plot points within the first half hour that can be somewhat confusing: Just know there’s a bunch of gold and several factions want it. That being the nefarious Lion Clan who kill their leader in cold blood – his son (Rick Yune) seeks revenge. He eventually bands with Russell Crowe’s tough and tubby maverick Jack Knife and a black blacksmith played by RZA himself, perhaps the most sympathetic character with a backstory and handicap.

As a director, the talented musician seems to mimic KILL BILL but without any characters to invest in – while his lethargic acting’s nothing to brag about. That’s not to say there aren’t a few kickass fights worth watching, although the overabundant (computer generated) blood and guts become distracting. And the title character is but a formidable adversary with a lot more iron than just his hand. Perhaps his description makes the coolest sounding name on the marquee, but the people who really shine are Lucy Liu’s gorgeous brothel vixens including (and especially) Jamie Chung – she alone is worth the time and money: Everything else feels like a lotta running around with rap and soul music blasting at every turn. Perhaps if RZA went for more dark comedy and put the melodrama aside, we could laugh along with the corny dialog rather than cringing at it. Yet everything leads to another round of kicks, swinging swords and flying limbs: so if that’s all you’re after, look no further. Just don't expect anything with depth or meaning.
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