Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: RZA, Rick Yune, Russell Crowe, Lucy Liu, Dave Bautista, Jamie Chung, Cung Le, Byron Mann, Daniel Wu, Zhu Zhu, Gordon Liu, Andrew Ng
Written by: RZA, Eli Roth
Directed by: RZA
MPAA Rating: R for bloody violence, strong sexuality, language and brief drug use
Running Time: 95
Date: 11/02/2012
IMDB

The Man with the Iron Fists (2012)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Iron Fists, Leaden Movie

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Working on the music scores for Jim Jarmusch's Ghost Dog and Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill - Vol. 2 apparently whetted rapper RZA's appetite for filmmaking, in addition to a childhood spent watching Shaw Brothers martial arts movies. Unfortunately, the result, The Man with the Iron Fists demonstrates why not all fans can be filmmakers.

Renegade soldier Silver Lion (Byron Mann) betrays and kills a clan chief in the hopes of nabbing a legendary hoard of gold. Unfortunately, the chief's son, Zen Yi (Rick Yune), a master with blades, is out for revenge. They both end up in Jungle Village, where a fancy brothel -- run by Madam Blossom (Lucy Liu) -- seems to be the main source of civilization. There, we also meet the polite, insatiable, and deadly Jack Knife (Russell Crowe), and also the mysterious Blacksmith (RZA), who is hiding from some kind of violent past and hopes to buy out the contract of a particular prostitute (Jamie Chung). Everything comes to a head when these folks and others meet for a final, bloody showdown, with the gold at stake.

The fight choreography, by the great Corey Yuen, is terrific, but the shaky, uncertain cinematography and choppy editing strip away all the beauty and excitement from it. The non-fighting scenes are even worse, thanks to stale dialogue by co-written by Eli Roth (of the Hostel films), and to flat performances (with RZA himself among them). Only veterans Russell Crowe and Lucy Liu really seem to savor their roles, and get behind the spirit of fun that should have pervaded this movie; their scenes together have a slight sizzle. The rest of this lifeless movie simply feels like it has been done many times before.

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