As a self-conscious and loving homage to the western chopsocky — think Seven Samurai divided by any of the Drunken Master films — The Man with the Iron Fists is just good enough to be a great bad movie. In a way, it’s surprising that it took so long for RZA of Wu-Tang Clan to get around to making the picture. The group has famously incorporated tons of martial arts ephemera in their music, and left their mark on great bad video releases of obscure movies from Hong Kong. This film, which RZA wrote and co-produced with horror guy Eli Roth, was cut down from an original four-hour-long version. The biggest problem with it are the sudden bursts of montage and backstory that leave us feeling like we’re missing something, or being left in the hands of an ungifted storyteller.
But the truth of the matter is that Iron Fist is just about perfect B-movie fun. Visually rich, it makes room for lots of wu xia flying, just enough blood, though maybe less than expected amounts of sexy-time. That is unless you want to include a creepy shot of pudgy Russell Crowe in the middle of a brothel orgy as prurient fun. (Hint: It isn’t.) But RZA himself as the title character, a freed slave protecting the village gold from an evil clan, is worth the price of admission alone. And the music is much more fun than anything the Shaw Brothers ever used during their prolonged kung fu production numbers… that is, we mean, fights.
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