The Man with the Iron Fists (2012)

the_man_with_the_iron_fists_2012Starring RZA, Rick Yune, Russell Crowe, Byron Mann, Lucy Liu, Dave Bautista, Jamie Chung, Cung Le, Daniel Wu, Zhu Zhu, Gordon Liu Chia-Hui, Andrew Ng, Grace Huang, Andrew Lin, Chen Kuan-Tai, Leung Kar-Yan, MC Jin, Pam Grier, Jon T. Benn

Directed by RZA

Expectations: Low, but hopeful.

twohalfstar


The Man with the Iron Fists is a strange movie, without a doubt. But I don’t think it’s bad; it’s more oddly misguided than anything else. What’s weird is that it feels this way based almost completely on how much RZA gets right in his homage to the classic kung fu films of the Shaw Brothers. Yes, “right.” The sets are magnificent and recapture the opulence of Shaw sets beautifully, the wirework is delivered with top-notch Hong Kong skill, and the story is filled with the wide range of colorful characters that any good wuxia demands. The weapons are suitably eccentric, and the battles are all well choreographed (by Corey Yuen), too. If you didn’t know any better, you might think that The Man with the Iron Fists was actually a Chinese production. RZA actually managed to resurrect the spirit of classic kung fu films, but — and this is where the “strange” comes in — the lens we experience all this classic kung fu goodness through is that of modern American filmmaking.

So because the film has so much good working for it, the bad sticks out and demands to be reckoned with in more apparent and frustrating ways than would otherwise be noticeable. The choice to film primarily in English is an expected one, but, at least for me, many of the actors sounded more like ’70s kung fu dubbing than actual actors in a scene. This could be bad acting, poor direction, or it could be by design. If it is intentional, that’s one hell of a bold choice for an unproven, first-time director making what is essentially a large-scale vanity project, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this was true. I’m sure RZA grew up watching the dubs that made their way to the States in the ’70s, and as a result has a nostalgic fondness for them. No matter what the reason, though, it’s off-putting, especially to someone like me that has never really grown fond of those iconic dub jobs.

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Top Five Most Anticipated Movies of the Fall

As much as I dislike posts like this I’m doing one of my own, simply because there are actually a few movies I’m really pumped to see and I haven’t seen them mentioned in the various most anticipated posts I’ve run into. Without further ado:

The Skin I Live In
dir. Pedro Almodovar
rel. date: 10-14-2011

This is easily my most anticipated movie of the year. I cannot wait. Almodovar has quickly become one of my favorite directors after watching only a few of his recent works, including his stunning film Broken Embraces. I haven’t even seen the trailer for the film as I don’t want a single thing spoiled, but I’m sure Almodovar will deliver the goods.

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Melancholia
dir. Lars Von Trier
rel. date: 11-11-2011

Again, I haven’t seen the trailer (I guess it should be noted that I generally avoid all trailers if I can help it), but I’m a sucker for most anything this guy puts out. I don’t always care for them completely, but his films are always challenging and interesting. I’ve also had a crush on Kirsten Dunst for a while so having her in the starring role doesn’t hurt.

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The Rum Diary
dir. Bruce Robinson
rel. date: 10-28-11

I know next to nothing about this film, but I have read the book, so that should count for something. I love and respect the work of Hunter S. Thompson, and while I’m not the most diligent reader of his stuff, I’m always floored when I do pick something up. Just the fact that they made The Rum Diary into a movie is something worth exploring. It looks to have a great cast too, with Johnny Depp and the lovely Amber Heard leading the charge.

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Straw Dogs
dir. Rod Lurie
rel. date: 9-16-2011

This one is mostly morbid curiosity than anything else. Having read and reviewed the original novel, and then the same for Peckinpah’s massacre adaptation, I feel like I have an informed opinion of the story and the remake will be interesting to look at from that point of view. I have no real hopes for the film itself though.

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Piranha 3DD
dir. John Gulager
rel. date: 11-23-2011

This one is just going to be a whole lot of fun… I hope. I missed the first one in the theater, but after hearing some good things about it, ended up watching it on DVD. It blew me away with how fun, over-the-top and ridiculously gory it was… and it left me wanting more. I can’t wait to have all kinds of stupid bullshit popping off the screen at me when the sequel finally drops, although the change in directors could signal bad waters ahead.

 

EDIT: OK, last-minute 6th film addition! I just found out about RZA’s new film, The Man with the Iron Fists, due out late 2011. It is supposedly everything a kung-fu fan could want, and being a kung-fu fan, I want it! Not too sure about Russell Crowe as the lead, but Pam Grier’s in it, and RZA is such a fan of old school Shaw Brothers movies that I think it’ll be pretty awesome.

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