“Iron Fist” a moderate success

By Brian Duskey

November 5, 2012

A growing trend in cinema is purposely bad action films. Sometimes they fail, sometimes they work. In the case of “The Man With The Iron Fists,” the verdict is rather subjective. RZA, from Wu Tang Clan fame, makes his directorial debut in a Kung Fu extravangza where plot is irrelevant and visuals are key. The script was written by RZA and famed filmmaker Eli Roth ("Hostel," "Cabin Fever") and while the backstory can be pretty deep, at times, this is still clearly a film that is about the fights. There is a hint of sensationalism with a lot of the man characters within the film. RZA plays a former slave who is now a blacksmith and has created iron hands for defense (cue the title). WWE wrestler Dave Bautista plays Brass Body: a man whose body turns to gold as a defense mechanism. Lucy Liu portrays a Madam, conveniently with Kung Fu skills. And then Russell Crowe is a man simply called “Knife,” whose main weapon is, well, a knife-gun. With characters like these, it completely clear to understand what kind of a film this is. While there is a plot, it isn’t really important. In fact, the few times that they try to go into the deep backstory of it, it starts to lose it’s luster a bit. Everyone is going to be seeing this film for its fight sequences. Everyone will be pleased. While they are not up to “Kill Bill” par, the fights in “The Man With The Iron Fists” are still beyond a higher quality that most action films of today. When you throw in all of the interesting dynamics of the different characters, in increases the quality of all of the fights. To be honest, I had a hard time following the story. I got really lost at a few moments during the film because they were not really well explained. This does hurt the film, but doesn’t completely ruin it. This is clearly not a film for everybody. Many will find it rather hard to follow and not completely understand what is going on. Others will understand it but not necessarily get the point of the film. Then others will completely bask in it’s excessiveness and enjoy their time at the theater. “The Man With The Iron Fists” is genre cinema at it’s finest. It’s appealing to a specific crowd but appalling to another. I found myself between the two. The the film had trouble keeping it’s identity, so to speak. There was a little story in the beginning and then a lot of fights and then they started somewhat “explain” the backstory and the depth of the characters, but they weren’t well-explained and the action was so excessively fast, brutal, and entertaining that you kind of just wanted to ignore the story. You can kind of call it an achievement when a film’s action actually wants to make you ignore it’s text, but RZA was able to pull that off. The issue is that he decides to go back to the backstory and the film would of benefited more from explaining all of the backstory in the early-going and then just having a Kung-Fu epic for the remainder of the film. “The Man With The Iron Fists” is not a film for everyone but many fans of the Kung Fu genre will enjoy it. Those willing to suspend their belief of anything realistic and narrative will be able to go into this with a pleased outlook.