Wednesday, November 21, 2012
The Man with the Iron Fists (USA/Hong Kong; RZA, 2012)
RZA has taken his passion for classic martial arts flicks to the ultimate level, not only co-writing, directing and, naturally, composing the music for this outrageous battle-fest, but also casting himself as the title character, a Buddhist-trained runaway freedman who replaces his severed forearms with, you guessed it, iron fists (although he may not be the most convincing actor around, his lack of subtlety is beneficial here). Including much of the genre-related factors that one would expect from a homage to Shaw Bros-like kung fu movies, such as feuding animal-named warrior clans, a beautifully treacherous madam, acrobatic action and Gordon Liu, Man in the Iron Fists goes beyond being a mere tribute to its source material and becomes an entity that stands on its own. With exaggerated blood splatter à-la-Riki-Oh, some of the most caricatural characters to ever grace the silver screen (Silver Lion, with his Artist-formerly-known-as-Prince wig, is especially hilarious) and stylish photography that constantly strives to be cool, the result is quite an impressive spectacle. However, while some of the fighting sequences are graceful and poetic (see the creative concept of the Gemini warriors), the bulk of the action is greatly distorted by choppy editing and brusque camera movements. This detail is compensated, on the other hand, by appropriately over-the-top performances, sensational violence and beautiful ladies, all the instant gratification one would expect from a satisfying exploitation film.