FOR THE LOVE OF FILM: The Man With The Iron Fists

For The Love Of Film is a weekly column from film nerd and lover of all movies Justin Proper. Sometimes you need some help to figure out how to enjoy movies, and we are here to help! No longer will you need to fear movie night because your friends have no taste in film. With this column you will be able to love even the worst gems to ever grace the silver screen.

Kung-fu movies are an acquired taste. Before Jackie Chan became a star most people probably could not name a martial arts star other than Bruce Lee. They are a little more prevalent in the mainstream now thanks to action stars like Chan, Jet Li, and Tony Jaa. You used to have to hunt to find badly dubbed martial arts movies from the east, but now some of them have major wide releases. The quality of the films has increased too, anyone that has seen the Ong-Bak or Ip Man movies can attest to that. Last year a martial arts movie came out that was a love letter to the movies of the past, but it was completely overshadowed by Oscar season so it got lost in the cinema background. I aim to fix that.

Lincoln who?

The Man With The Iron Fists (henceforth referred to as just Iron Fists) is the directoral debut of RZA, who is widely regarded as the best member of the Wu Tang Clan by everyone I know that is me. The plot is a classic tale of martial arts nonsense centered around a metric fuckton of gold. You can convert that to USD. on your own time, I hate math. The bottom line is a whole bunch of badass assassins and gang leaders are all gunning for the same prize, and RZA, the magically skilled blacksmith, is at the center of the schemes due to his uncanny ability to make devices that kill better than any others. Seriously, he is pretty much the Steve Jobs of murder.

Nailed it.

The movie sounds awesome, right? Critics did not agree. Most of these overly pretentious shitdicks slammed the film for its bad acting, poor dialogue, and overall underwhelming delivery. Roger Ebert did not even review this movie, which I assume is his only regret in life. A lot of these complaints are pretty valid. The acting is overall bad and the dialogue is cheesy and direct. What was apparently lost on the critics is that Iron Fists is supposed to have those elements. It is made in the style of 70’s martial arts flicks which all had bad acting and shitty dialogue.

My reaction to people saying they don’t like this movie.

There are many reasons to watch Iron Fists. As the title would imply there is a man with iron fists, and honestly if you thought that might be some sort of metaphor for how strong the guy is you would be mistaken. This is just one of the many colorfully outlandish and insanely cool weapons in the movie. Russell Crowe carries a mechanical gun knife thing that guts fuckers more efficiently than a meat processing plant. One guy turns to bronze like Colossus from the X-Men, and do not even get me started on the Gemini killers, they are so impractically stylish that you will laugh out loud until you see how awesome it looks when they fight. All the weapons are deadly, and all of them get used to liquefy the lesser men.

Sometimes literally.

Now, you may notice that Lucy Liu and Russell Crowe are in this film. Actually, you definitely will notice that, they have pretty main roles. Lucy Liu is pretty ok, but Russell Crowe is the surprise star. His dedication to his crazy role as a womanizing, opium smoking, british murder machine is so intense you would think he was Nic Cage. Every single line of dialogue he delivers, no matter how dumb, comes across as serious as a heart attack, taking his character from just another killer to hilarious standout in no time. If Jack Knife was after Wolverine in Les Miserables that movie would have been over in the first act. Actually, that sounds way better…

“Where the fuck is Jean Valjean?!”

It would be a mistake not to mention the soundtrack and cinematography.  Iron Fists has some of the best music I have ever seen in a martial arts movie. With RZA at the helm that should come as no surprise, but even I was impressed and I expected the world. The score is woven in and out of amazing hip-hop songs and beats taking Iron Fists to an entirely new level. The visuals are completely gorgeous and full of contrast. Even when it is at its most ultra violent (which is pretty fucking brutal) it manages to be completely beautiful.

I’m no longer sure if I have a murder hard on or a regular one.

The Man With The Iron Fists is not only great for martial arts movie fans, but also for lovers of all things hip-hop and Russel Crowe acting insane. Next time you have a movie night with your friends make sure you rent it and get a little faded before it starts. By the end of the movie you will be cheering and laughing with your buddies about the best movie you have seen in months. Please disregard that last bit if you have recently seen a genuinely good film like Drive or Blade Runner.

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