Reviewer’s Rating: ★
“The Man with the Iron Fists” is a ridiculous adaptation of a classic Kung Fu movie. If this film will attract anyone, it will be an audience that only wishes to see violence and gore.
The setting is Jungle Village, China, where different “packs” act as old school gangs that control the money and politics of the area. The Lion pack is the focal point of the story, and it’s a very hard story to grasp.
The idea is that the Lion pack leader is sending a shipment of gold to the governor, and everyone is on the hunt for this gold. Participants in this treasure hunt include the different packs, including the Lion, Wolf and Hyena packs, as well as assassins and a British soldier.
The men known as Bronze Lion and Silver Lion turn on their leader, Gold Lion, and they have him assassinated. Silver Lion takes over and sets out to start different wars for no apparent reasons. He also hires assassins to kill Gold Lion’s son, Zen Yi, played by Rick Yune (“The Fast and the Furious”). Although it was difficult to understand the reasoning of this, the audience can assume Silver Lion doesn’t want Zen Yi to overthrow his reign.
In the midst of all these riots and drama, the film zeroes in on the blacksmith, played by RZA, who is also the director and assisted Eli Roth’s writing. The blacksmith forges all the weapons for each clan. His guilt depresses him, as he is making weapons for feuding packs, giving them the means to start wars. But he does it all to earn money for Lady Silk (Jamie Chung), his lover, who is also a courtesan. They plan to run away together.
Enter Jack Knife (Russell Crowe), a rogue soldier who has also come to the village in search of the gold. Crowe does a great job with his character and ultimately steals the show. Jack Knife is a promiscuous violent drunk, who is also noble and kind. It is an odd combination of characteristics, but Crowe pulls it off.
Throughout this film, there are hints of a good plot and acceptable fighting scenes, but the overall film was absurd and almost comical in a laughing-at-you-not-with-you manner. There is a character by the name of Brass Body whose body literally turns to brass without any explanation. Also, the switch between English and Chinese makes little sense. Most characters spoke perfect English, while subtitles were used in unlikely scenes.
The character development was pretty much nonexistent, which meant that the character’s relationships with one another weren’t very convincing. Zen Yi has a lover, who supposedly means everything to him, but he leaves her to avenge his father’s death, and she is never brought up again. The blacksmith and Lady Silk have no passion and they make no real connection at all with each other -- or with the audience for that matter.
The only couple that seems to have any kind of passion are the Gemini Killers, a husband and wife who are sought out to accompany and protect the gold on its journey. Despite the fact that they are not given any background story, the audience can slightly tell that they love each other. The Gemini Killers’ have only one meaningful appearance in this film, and even that comes across as cheesy and garish.
The overall film had noticeable faults and was extremely overdone. “The Man with the Iron Fists,” is definitely a movie for fans of blood and gore, but leaves nothing more for the audience to appreciate.