HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Man With The Iron Fists
HTS Overall Score:78
I grew up as a young child waiting impatiently for Saturday morning to come around, not to watch Ninja Turtles or other such cartoons, but rather that was the time that the WB channel would show its weekly Saturday Kung Fu marathon. I’d watch anything from the classic Shaw Bro’s to the Wu Tang clan with my father on a tiny 13 inch CRT. I was so enthralled with the martial arts that I begged my parents to let me join a Karate Dojo and train. From there I chewed through just about every martial arts genre and sub-genre known to man. From Jackie Chan and Jet Li, to the Five venoms and even Steven Seagal and Van Damme became a mainstay for me. However, as much of a fan of the martial arts cinema as I was, nothing comes close to the absolute love and adoration that the RZA holds for the arts. A walking, talking encyclopedia of Kung Fu cinema, he has lived and breathed it for the last 20 years or so. He has become such an expert that Dragon Dynasty studios have hired him to be a guest commentary on multiple Shaw Bro’s releases. Besides Bey Logan, there is no one else out there who has such a rich and knowledgeable familiarity with the genre. As a result “Man with the Iron Fists” should be considered the RZA’s love letter to the world of Kung Fu cinema.
It seems that the Governor of a Chinese province has decided to send a shipment of gold to his troops in the north through the simple Jungle village and calls in Gold Lion, the leader of a ruling clan that control the province, to safeguard the shipment from any potential thieves. Unfortunately, as is the case with gold, greed takes over and Gold Lion is betrayed by his two most trusted lieutenants, Silver Lion (Byron Mann), and Bronze Lion (Cung Le). Taking control of the Lion Clan, Silver Lion destroys the other rival clans in a vicious display of power and awaits the arrival of the gold. Simultaneously a mysterious English gentleman (Russell Crowe) who introduces himself with the statement “My name…Is Mr. Knife, and you….can call me Jack” shows up at the Pink Blossom, the local brothel and sets up shop with a fireworks display of excitement.
As the gold arrives in Jungle Village, the Lion Clan takes action and obliterates the caravan, stealing the gold in the process. Teaming up with the Madame of the Pink Blossom (Lucy Liu), Silver Lion hides the gold under the Pink Blossom and hunkers down to await any other emissary’s of the Governor. Amidst all of this chaos we have our main Hero, a young blacksmith (the RZA) who creates all these weapons of destruction that the clans use to wage war on each other. In love with Lady Silk, on of Madame Blossom’s girls, he works tirelessly in order to save up enough gold to buy his loves freedom from the brothel. Unfortunately for him he is caught assisting Silver Lions enemies and has his arms chopped off as punishment. With the help of Jack Knife and Gold Lion’s son, who is back for revenge, our young blacksmith must forge for himself a set of iron fists, with which he can exact his vengeance on those who destroyed his body.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=10926[/img]The RZA most definitely loves the genre and it shows through with obvious gusto. The attention to detail and authenticity to those days of old classic Kung fu are astounding; from the obviously ridiculous and convoluted plot, to the wild and crazy names and powers given to the characters. We have characters that can cause an entire log to explode just by touching it and even men who can turn their entire bodies into invincible brass shells. While it may seem crazy and bizarre at times, this is all very much an intentional move. All of these crazy and unbelievable names and actions all came from those old Wu Tang and Shaw Bro’s films of the 60s and 70s. I can see pieces of the “5 Deadly Venoms” and little pieces of “Eight Diagram Pole Fighter” thrown in there, but it all comes with a twist. Here the RZA tried to modernize it just a tad and he includes a Hip Hop soundtrack and some very modern language that intermingles into the old, cheesy dubbed over dialogue. Sometimes it works, and unfortunately, sometimes it doesn’t works so well. The RZA’s obvious love of the genre is both a blessing and a curse. The blessing is of course the attention to detail and obvious passion that flows through the movie. The curse happens to be that he got a little too close to the action. Instead of just being content to produce and maybe direct the movie, he also had to infuse himself in the film as the main character. While the RZA is definitely a master of Kung Fu cinema, it is obvious that as an actor and martial artist, he is still a white belt.
Rated R for bloody violence, sexuality, language and brief drug use
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=10927[/img]Universal bestows an absolutely stunning 2.40:1 AVC encode for us to enjoy. Colors are absolutely breathtaking in their richness and abundance. Pinks, reds, blues and yellows literally flow from all directions, especially the lavish decorations that surround the Pink Blossom. Shadows are excellent, with nary a hint of black crush. I was especially impressed with the detail present. Every curve and texture of the brocaded silk garments are replicated with incredible accuracy and the lines and creases that adorned the portly face of Russell Crowe are laid bare for all to see. The film is coated in a very fine layer of grain that is barely noticeable to the naked eye. There are a few scenes with macroblocking, but they’re few and far between. Contrast is smooth and dialed in to a very acceptable level, skin tones are accurate and there doesn’t appear to be any sign of any aliasing or DNR present to mar the presentation. Overall, I give the video score a very solid thumbs up.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=10928[/img]The audio is a bit of a mixed bag here. The dialogue is locked firmly in the center channel as expected and the effects are balanced nicely with the dialogue. The real problem happens to be the hip hop score. Drastically level boosted, it tends to drown out some of the vocals and effects when it’s playing, and as luck would have it, the score is frequently inserted into the film. The LFE is loud and powerful, blending itself in with the music as well as adding a heavy feeling to all of the physical action. Unfortunately it tends to be a bit boomy and sometimes overwhelming rather than balanced and punchy. The surrounds are sight (or sound in this situation) to behold. Daggers flying across the screen, ropes snaking out from hidden vantage points and the subtle sounds of the forest; all of them make the surround channels light up like a Christmas party. Deep and immersive the track is definitely one to enjoy, marred only by the obvious balance issues with the score and the LFE tracks. Definitely serviceable, it is just a bit disappointing when ,with a few tweaks, it could have been so much more.
• Deleted Scenes
• A Look Inside
• On the Set with RZA
• "Skyfall" Premiere
• Theatrical Trailer
• A Path to the East
I really wanted to love “The Man with the Iron Fists”, but I unfortunately only ended up liking it. An uneven film that wavers from being great, to being mediocre is still an enjoyable watch. The rough patches were there in spades, but there was a plethora of excellent characters that made up for them. we had some excellent martial artist and athletes strewn throughout the films such as Cung Le and the massive Dave Bautista. We even had a brief cameo by the legendary Shaw Bro's actor Gordon Liu. Those of us who grew up with those old, poorly dubbed, chop socky films have to see it just out pure necessity. For those who didn’t grow up with them, it’s still a fun movie if you’re into the ridiculous dialogue and over the top violence that a love letter like this is sure to bring to the table. Being that his is definitely a movie for a specific audience I will give this a shaky recommendation. Definitely something I’d rent from Redbox to see if it’s up your ally or not.
Starring: Dave Bautista, RZA, Lucy Liu, Cung Le
Directed by: RZA
Written by: RZA
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 AVC
Audio: ENGLISH: DTS-HD MA 5.1, Spanish, French DTS 5.1
Studio: Universal Studios
Runtime: 107 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: February 12th, 2013
Buy The Man With the Iron Fists Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Rent It!
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