Movie Review: THE MAN WITH THE IRON FISTS (2012)
Throughout history there are bad movies. A bad movie happens for a variety of reasons; the Director losing focus, the screenplay being rushed, or compromises have to be made to satisfy an overzealous studio. Those movies are easily dismissed like a bad dream that loses cohesiveness as the morning after progresses. However, there are other movies, that are so bad, that it takes talent to crash that hard; They fail so much in every way, that the only logical emotional response is all out amusement and frivolous enjoyment at every flaw the film puts forth in goodwill. As my good friend Kathy from Access Bollywood sums up:
“So bad, it’s good” movies can never be made ironically or with any kind of self-awareness. They result from the earnest efforts of a filmmaker that fall woefully short of competence and quality.
THE MAN WITH THE IRON FISTS certainly fits the bill, and here is why.
Written, Directed and starring Rza, this movie is unadulterated proof of that fact that not everyone can achieve success, in every creative arena. Despite his contribution to hip-hop, Rza is an amateur director, oblivious to even the most basic forms of filmmaking. But this isn’t a trashy Movie Review about the film, so let’s get to the good stuff. The story focuses on an expert Blacksmith, who builds weapons for all the warring factions in a little village off of nowheresville. Why one faction doesn’t just stockpile weapons from the Blacksmith and then kill him so that the other factions have no source of any weapons, doesn’t matter! Rza himself, who has the acting range of a recycled water bottle rolling down a suburban street on Garbage day, plays the Blacksmith with underwhelming emotions. The character is set up to be a loner, who’s in love with a prostitute (Jamie Chung), whom he’s buying from her pimp (Lucy Liu) so that they can build a life together. And they say diamonds are a gal’s best friend.
Like most movies of this caliber, the story takes a backseat to the awesome-ness of how it all goes down. The characters, fight scenes and ridiculous-ness of everything is what makes TMWTIF an amazingly well made bad movie. Rick Yune plays X-Blade, out for revenge for his father’s death, sporting armor that has spikes coming out of every which way. This must make intimacy difficult for his new wife, as evident by how easily she lets him march off to his sure death, after trying to stop him for literally 5 seconds, before giving in. Then we have the gang members he wants revenge on, named after the metals of Gold, Silver & Bronze, as represented by the dyed color of their hairs. The oddest thing about this movie, which also makes it the funniest, is how the setting is in this ancient Asian village, however, the locals speak perfectly articulated, almost British English. Takes one completely out of the setting of the film, and destroys any suspension of disbelief… although more opportunities are given to try.
Continuing bat-shit crazy characters, is Russell Crowe, who one can only assume lost a bet, or was somehow forced to contractually oblige being in this movie. An American sheriff-type persona in this little Asian village, who loves whores, but is also a gentleman with a gun that doubles as a machine operated Rambo Knife that he uses in his first appearance to saw a fat guy in half…. pure win! WWE Wrestler Bautista, who can now be seen in Marvel’s GAURDIANS OF THE GALAXY, plays a hired mercenary who can turn his entire body to Brass. Imagine a Gold Colossus from X-Men. Why this man, who obviously has the power to withstand knives and spears, doesn’t just kill everyone and became the ruler of all factions instead of taking orders from other douches, is again, not addressed. Rounding it all off, is Rza himself, whose character gets his arms sawed off up to the elbow, which motivates him to create massive Iron prosthetics for himself that he will use for… revenge? Glory…? Doesn’t matter! Some how, he can even control the fingers of the Iron arms, despite… not having any fingers or wrists or forearms. Bad movie magic! The worst offence is, from the get go, Rza’s character has been touted as an expert Blacksmith, making unique weapons under deadlines. However, when it comes to his own Iron Fists, the titular object of the movie, it’s not him that forges them… but unseen others, in a montage that shows blink-and-miss images of the Fists being made.
The fighting is laughable, as the sequential progression of shots make no sense. The editing is horrid as the story moves forward with repetitive angles and weird cut scenes that are nauseating. The hardcore hip hop tracks juxtaposed with Martial Arts sequences may have worked in ROMEO MUST DIE, but in this movie it’s just … tragic, but ironically so. I feel that Rza was attempting to make a kung-fu movie paying homage to that genres, similar to Quentin Tarantino (who presented this film, which, is why I think any of these actors even signed on) but when everything in the film feels tacked on and forces, and the jarring camera work adds to that out of place sensation even more, it’s a complete failure. It feels like the entire movie is Rza attempting to make a modern day kung fu film, however, he does it with such earnest eagerness that it makes THE MAN WITH THE IRON FISTS so bad… that it’s good, warranting a watch if for nothing else but to to marvel at it’s amazing bad-ness.