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Title: The Man With the Iron Fists 2: Sting of the Scorpion

Movie: :2.5stars:
Video: :4.5stars:
Audio: :4stars:
Extras: :3stars:

HTS Overall Score:76

“The Man With the Iron Fists” was a goofy, but rather fun take on the old grindhouse Kung-Fu movies of the 70s and 80s. It was bloody, slightly naughty and riddled with all sorts of fun cheese. It was by no means a perfect movie, but it had some charm and was greatly enjoyed by my friends and myself. Several years later it looks like the RZA is back again as the Black blacksmith and the hip hop scored lightning tries to strike twice. Unfortunately this direct to video sequel doesn’t have the legs that its predecessor had, no matter how hard it tries. The RZA is back, but this time he’s shifted off directing to Roel Reine, a man who’s very much known to get quick results in under budget. Usually at the expense of quality as he’s called in for lots of these DTV flicks, such as “Death Race 2”, “Death Race 3”, “12 Rounds 2: Reloaded” etc. He gets the job done, and in under budget, but like the rest of the sequels he’s directed, they are a far cry away from the originals they were spawned from, even if those originals aren’t exactly bona fide classics.

Thaddeus (The RZA) is traveling once more, this time he’s on his way to find a Buddhist temple in hopes of finding inner peace. Ambushed at the outskirts of a mining town, he is nursed back to life by the wife and daughter of a recovering warrior. While Thaddeus is recovering, this ex-warrior, Li Kung (Dustin Nguyen) watches as his village is dominated by the evil Master Ho (Carl Ng), a monstrous slave driver who rules the village with an iron fist thanks to the strength of his Beetle Clan. The mayor of the little village (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, has to sit idly by in his wheelchair while good men die. Neither men WANT to see their home oppressed so, but the might of the Beetle Clan is too much for innocent villagers to repel.

Inevitably a turning point must come, and this comes in the form of the “Golden Nectar”, a magical source of chi power that can raise weaklings to giants in a single drink. It appears that Master Ho’s mining operation has been nothing but a façade, instead of silver being mined, he is looking for this magical water supply under the same temple that Thaddeus is trying to reach. After Li’s brother is murdered and his daughter, Innocence (yes you read that right) has been captured, he, Thaddeus and the rest of the villagers finally have enough and race headlong into a bloody battle against the minions of evil.

It’s strange that the RZA’s baby project leaves him out of the picture so much. He’s in the film for a few minutes at the beginning and then only shows up intermittently during the rest of the film (minus the end battle of course). The weight of the movie actually falls upon Li Kung’s shoulders, as he is actually the hero and main character of this sequel. Most of the story is actually about Li and his struggle to keep his little village together. Thaddeus has some moments, but mostly is relegated to the wise stranger role, making weapons for the villagers and spouting out ancient tidbits of knowledge. Even when he does join the battle his moments aren’t exactly crucial to the story and if he had been excluded completely wouldn’t have made a big difference.

During the making of featurette, Roel Reine makes note that an executive decision was made which put a lot of emphasis on the fighting and the choreography of the film, which would certainly explain the lackluster dialog and stilted directing style. However, with that in mind you can see where the money went, as the choreography is actually REALLY well done and the martial arts are actually a good step up from the previous movie. Those close up battles between Carl Ng and Nguyen are impressive and the end sequence with Cary Tagawa stand out as being really intimate and done without a whole lot of quick cuts (which is something that should NOT be in a martial arts movie in my opinion). However, when you open up the camera work to see the rest of the battle raging on it starts to fall apart. There are only a handful of REAL martial artists in the movie and when the action is centered on them you can really see the action lose some steam.

The movie is filld with blood and guts and cheesy 70’s style action fights, and interestingly enough gave up the slight nudity and innuendo of the first movie, leaving this one nonstop action fest. I get that the movie was meant to be a wink wind, nudge nudge type of film filled with those old grindhouse Kung-Fu style cheese, but the directing and the acting for the side characters is PAINFULLY bad. Except for the main characters the rest of the cast is giving their lines with the gusto and skill of a newly hired actor straight from the backwoods of whatever little town they came out of. Still, there is some solid fun to be hand in the fight scenes and people who enjoy DTV flicks will get some entertainment out of the gore, punching and cheesy dialog.


Rated R for strong bloody violence throughout

Video :4.5stars:
Universal brings “The Man With the Iron Fists 2” to Blu-ray with a stunning Blu-ray presentation. Despite the DTV budget the film is sparkling with all sorts of colors, ranging from blues to reds to greens and all sorts of in between shades amongst the riches of Master Ho. The dark, earthier colors are relegated to the slumming villagers and in close ups the detail is stunning. On some of the longer shots the video looks a bit soft and diffused, with a loss of detail. The Thai countryside is lush with bright greens and a natural beauty that lends itself to filming. Black levels show appropriate depth and there doesn’t seem to be any sign of black crush at all. The movie is short and with the extras still gives room for a nice high bitrate which alleviates any compression artifacts. A stunning picture that almost rivals the first movie for beauty. .

Audio :4stars:
The 5.1 DTS-HD Ma track is a solid offering that is actually very similar and structure to the first movies audio track. The dialog is clean and clear, recording wise, but The RZA’s mumbling sometimes makes it hard for us to hear him on screen. The action movie is always a blast for audio and the bone crunching hits and clanging of metal weapons light up the surround speakers with some excellent power and directionality. LFE is deep and powerful, making each blow feel like a hammers blow and the rousing hip hop score is impressively heavy. Much like the original audio track, I felt that the hip hop music was mixed too loudly and had a tendency of drowning out some of the fight noises as well as the dialog at times. It felt more like a club mix, with the aggressive music than anything. It is still quite good, just with some weird (and intentional) issue that plagued both movies.

Extras :3stars:

• Audio Commentary
• Unrated Cut
• Chi Warriors: The Making of "The Man with the Iron Fists 2"
• Deleted Scenes

Overall: :3.5stars:

“The Man With the Iron Fists 2: The Sting of the Scorpion” follows just about the path you would expect from a DTV released sequel of an already cheesy film. This time we have a director who’s followed the path of DTV many a time instead of being directed by The RZA. This is both good and bad as the RZA’s direction had some sloppy moments in the first one, but the relegating of the movie to Reine has its own downsides too, mainly that it follows the same pattern as all the other DTV flicks that Reine has directed. The entire enjoy ability factor rests solely on if you enjoy DTS action movies and love guilty pleasures, or if you required well-crafted movies. Definitely a rental.

Additional Information:

Starring: The RZA, Sahajak Boonthanakit, Dustin Nguyen, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa
Directed by: Roel Reiné
Written by: John Jarrell, The RZA
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, French, Spanish DTS 5.1
Studio: Universal
Rated: R
Runtime: 90 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: April 14th 2015

Buy The Man With the Iron Fists 2: Sting of the Scorpion On Blu-ray at Amazon

Recommendation: Rental

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