I really wanted to like The Man With The Iron Fists, but I left the theater hungry and empty. I'm sure there's a segment of kung fu fans who are going to love it, but I'm not in that category. Here's why...
It's a hero story. The small town blacksmith doesn't want trouble, he just wants to do his job and get on with his day. But he happens to be a master weapon maker.
So, competing factions (the bad guys) hire him to produce their weapons. This puts the blacksmith in a tough spot and right in the middle of these blood hungry animals. But the money is good, and he takes the risk so he can earn enough to grab his girl and get out of town.
All the bad guys want better weapons take each other out and steal the government's gold shipment, which is going to pass through this small town on its way to safekeeping. War is coming...
(I won't go into any more details and spoil it for you.)
Not a bad plot.
The problem is that the movie complicates the theme above. Too many things happen at the same time, and too many story lines crisscross throughout the movie.
This isn't always a bad thing. If done well, it makes the story richer. The challenge is keeping it together and organized so the viewer doesn't get lost or confused.
It was presented by Quentin Tarantino. It was filmed entirely in Shanghai. It had marquee Hollywood stars including Russell Crowe and Lucy Liu and Pam Grier has a small part. RZA from the music group Wu-Tang Clan acts in the movie, co-wrote the screenplay with Eli Roth, and it was his directorial debut. It also had a $20 million budget.
On top of all this, the movie packed an impressive list of Hong Kong and martial arts stars such as Cung Le, David Bautista, Daniel Wu, Byron Mann, Gordon Liu, Rick Yune, Zhu Zhu, Kuan Tai Chen, Andrew Lin, Grace Huang, and many more.
The film had plenty of eye candy. One of the important locations in the movie was the brothel, which did not disappoint.
The fight scenes were pretty good. They added a lot of gore, blood splatter, and flying body parts.
The problem was the special effects weren't good enough. Some of the scenes looked unrealistic, even if you suspended your imagination. But, a couple of the scenes were actually darn good. I won't say which ones, you'll have to watch the movie yourself.
When a complex story is done right, which Quentin Tarantino has done many times (Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction) it works gangbusters. But The Man With The Iron Fists tried to stuff too much in it, and made the story convoluted and distracting.
The acting? Sometimes I felt they were having too much fun and making it up as it went along. In general, even for the top actors, it just felt most of them were overacting their parts. But this is usually a small thing for a kung fu flick; who cares about the acting, right?
I hope RZA continues working and honing his directing skills. This project must have been a big piece to chew on. He acted in it, directed it (and directed himself in it), he co-wrote it, had a hand in the soundtrack, and in one interview he mentioned going through culture shock because he lived and worked in China without his family or close friends.
If you saw the movie, how did you liked it?
Tell us ...