Full disclosure: I love the Wu-Tang Clan.
The mythology. The music. The killer team of MCs.
I even love their interludes.
But my attempt to support the RZA, architect of the Wu-sound, netted a night of cinematic shenanigans.
I was absolutely dumbfounded by the tomfoolery that was “The Man with the Iron Fists,” a project directed, co-written and fronted by the man who brought us “C.R.E.A.M,” “Protect Ya Neck,” and other classiques.
Now, I understand that the movies to which this film plays homage are not Oscar-winning efforts. “Iron Monkey,” “36 Chambers,”…nope, they’re not exactly the “Bridges of Madison County.”
But the fighting, the cool lines, the haunting soundtracks and oh yes, the fighting are beyond reproach. Not so in this hot mess of a kung fu flick.
I wish the news were better, but it’s like “Showgirls,” Shaolin style.
So, in honor of the 36 Chambers RZA so heavily references in both Wu lore and with respect to this film, I ask 36 questions, in no particular order, about the film. Let’s go… (Spoilers ahead, so protect ya neck by going no further if you are planning to check it on the big screen.)
1. Why did the RZA cast himself in the titular part with as little on-screen dialogue as possible?
2. Why did his so-called “mistress” not even give him any action? Was this rated “G”? (Answer: No.)
3. Who put those Fantasy Headquarters fright wigs on the Lion Clan?
4. Why could I clearly see at one point that it was Lucy Liu’s stunt double sliding across the floor instead of the “Charlie’s Angels” and “Kill Bill” action star herself?
5. Why did Pam Grier show up to be the RZA’s “slave mama?”
6. How did the RZA get from a Southern plantation all the way to China? (The film shows him running and then laying near a smashed up boat that wouldn’t be big enough to cart kids around in at Kiddieland.)
7. Why did he put that Ben Wallace wig on his head for the “slavery” portion of the film?
8. Why did Eli Roth make everything so “Cabin Fever” gross? (I know he is responsible for that. Ew.)
9. Why on earth was Russell Crowe so damn awful?
10. Why did people keep slapping “Bronze Body” when they could clearly see he was made of bronze?
11. Why did Quentin Tarantino “present” this mess without warning RZA?
12. Why was the action so horrible?
13. Who in the hell came up with these simplistic and goofy character names, such as Madam Blossom, Bronze Body?
14. How did the Blacksmith know how to pilot a boat to China?
15. How did the Blacksmith manage to fight with some heavy arse iron hands without practice?
16. Why did the villain, Silver Lion , not only fail at all aspects of acting, he actually looked like he was laughing at his own ineptitude the whole time?
17. Why did the dialogue sound like a “Mortal Kombat” game, only dumbed down?
18. Why didn’t the Blacksmith’s woman care that he was MIA for the last fourth of the film if she was planning to run away with him?
19. Why were there 20 storylines in one movie?
20. What the hell was Russell Crowe’s character doing sleeping with six prostitutes at a time? If he was deep cover, what part of the game was that?
21. Do Blacksmiths actually just beat on rocks with sticks and weapons miraculously appear?
22. Why were the only good fighters in the film, Gemini Killers, killed so quickly?
23. Why was the Gemini female wearing granny panties while fighting?
24. Was Russell Crowe kung fu CSI? Why was he serving as MacGuyver-meets-shogun assassin?
25. How did The Blacksmith make his fingers move in the iron hands without the help of any visible mechanics?
26. Why was everyone tripping over the spicy ribs at the one inn in town? Did it have Harold’s mild sauce on it?
27. How did this movie cost $15 million dollars?
28. Why were the villains so easy to kill conveniently as the movie wrapped up its (ahem) plotline?
29. Why was the wire work so awful, if they had the blessing of Quentin “Kill Bill” Tarantino on deck?
30. Why couldn’t the Blacksmith even really kiss his girlfriend in this chaste film, but he let loose about four to five mother[bleepers] as “narrator” and stocked the brothel with the freakiest of sex toys?
31. Why was everyone in the theater laughing at the parts that were not supposed to be funny?
32. What specific movies and/or drunken conversations at a dive bar inspired this hot mess?
33. Why did characters think simply throwing a hood on made them invisible to the enemy eye?
34. Why was The Blacksmith letting a prostitute, girlfriend or not, keep the money he was saving to “buy” her freedom? Didn’t he have anywhere to keep it until they had enough?
35. Where did all that luchini go? (He never picked it back up.)
36. Will someone dare to make a sequel?
On that last one, if there is a “Fists” 2, please take these critiques into consideration. Please.
Your turn: What questions do you have about this film? Or did you like it and have a strong argument that it is a classic? I’d love to hear both sides. Comment below.
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