‘The Man with the Iron Fists’ intrigues with fast-paced action

Sam Mitchell

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The Man with the Iron Fists” is not for everyone.  If you are looking for a deep emotional film that will move you or an intricate plot filled with intrigue and twists, this is probably not the movie for you.  However, if you are just looking to have a great time watching some awesome action and truly bad ass characters you will definitely appreciate “The Man with the Iron Fists.”
Aided by ‘presenter’ Quentin Tarantino, co-writer Eli Roth, critically acclaimed musical producer of the Wu Tang Clan, RZA, in his directorial debut, creates a memorable and immensely entertaining kung fu movie in “The Man With the Iron Fists.”
The movie focuses on multiple factions of kung fu fighters, battling each other to steal an enormous shipment of gold from the Chinese government. Fighters from all around China and beyond migrate to the small town of Jungle City in attempts to commandeer the gold shipment. The action heats up and never cools down as more and more warriors filter into the town and the gold arrives.
The action once the city is filled with combatants is by far the highlight of the movie.  Huge, chaotic battles make up a good portion of the film.  Brutal hand-to-hand combat, stealthy assassinations and large-scale massacres take center as the movie progresses. Some of these sequences are so hectic and action packed that they will leave you gasping for breath in the brief intermissions between battles.
Another strong point of the film is in its characters. Russell Crowe (“A Beautiful Mind“) turns in a very enthusiastic performance as Jack Knife, a mysterious English fighter, named after his spinning blade. The morally grey hero spews awesome lines of dialogue throughout and has some very entertaining battles, including his one-on-one showdown with the villain Poison Dagger.
Byron Mann (“Catwoman“) also turns in an undeniably amusing performance as antagonist Silver Lion, leader of the kung fu tribe, The Gold Lions.  Silver Lion wreaks havoc throughout Jungle City, warring with and eventually destroying other factions and destroying anyone that opposes him.  His charismatic and appropriately over-the-top performance however, prevent the movie from gaining too much weight, which is definitely a good thing. “The Man With the Iron Fists” is a movie made to be enjoyed, but not overly invested in.
Other entertaining and memorable performances include Lucy Liu’s (“Kung Fu Panda“) portrayal of Madam Blossom, the devious and scheming leader of a local brothel, and RZA’s role as the actual man with the iron fists, a local blacksmith caught in the middle of the coming war as he is forced to make weapons for all warring factions.
The climactic battle involving all three main heroes, Jack Knife, the man with the iron fists and X-Blade, facing on in one-on-one duels against the three main villains, Silver Lion, Poison  Dagger and the hulking Brass Body, makes for one of the most fun, entertaining and visually satisfying battle sequences I have seen, with all three battles occurring simultaneously, being spliced on and off screen seamlessly.
As should be expected from anything made by RZA, Iron Fists had outstanding music.  Instrumentals set the tone nicely and performances by Method Man, ODB, Raekwon and more serve as tribute to his past with the Wu Tang Clan, while adding to the sense of chaos during battle.
Iron Fists does however have its flaws.
One major weakness is in some of the more minor and supporting characters.  While almost all characters add something to the narrative and seem to have a place in the story, the acting for some of these supporting roles is at times very dismal.  Some of the characters always feel as if they are forcing their lines, making some sections of dialogue feel very scripted, removing you from the experience and distracting you from what is actually taking place on screen.
The plot can also be a little bit confusing for the first 30 minutes or so of the movie.  Tons of characters are introduced immediately and it can be hard to remember who is who and what their motives are for coming to Jungle City. The narrative is grand in scale, with characters coming from all around China and some from even further. This is not a bad thing all together as it adds to the importance of battles, but it forces the story to develop too quickly. Many characters’ plot lines feel rushed as other plot points are squeezed in. This is a relatively minor issue though, as the plot makes more sense as the movie progresses.
A final complaint is that the film had some emotional segments that felt forced. With most of the movie filled with blood, battle and bravado, the occasional attempted heart-felt moment felt misplaced. The characters, good and bad, are power-hungry death-dealers so it’s hard to empathize for them or get wrapped up in their personal lives, when in the next scene they are massacring huge crowds of assailants.
Overall though these small detractors don’t even come close to ruining the experience.  “The Man with the Iron Fists” is a fun, engaging and vastly entertaining movie that is extremely enjoyable from the opening scene to the final credit.  It will not win any Academy Awards, but it will be a great movie watching experience if you just sit back and enjoy what it has to offer: amusing dialogue, cool characters and incredibly awesome action.
By Sam Mitchell
Did you see “The Man with the Iron Fists”? What do you think? Tell us in the comment box below!