I also love the hell out of creative collaborations, having two unlikely worlds collide. Like a mystery solving JDrama with an Arashi member with a crazy dirty techno soundtrack. Wrap. Sold. Take all my feels.
So, when I saw the trailer to The Man with the Iron Fists, not gonna lie, I kinda squeed. What do you mean I get to see awesome kung fu fighting ,with effing Wu Tang Clan as background music, and the same gratuitous violence of that only a movie with Quentin Tarantino's name attached can deliver. Yes. Yes. EFF Yes.
Did I enjoy the crap out of this movie? You bet I did.
Did I also think it was absolutely terrible? Why, yes. Yes, I did.
Even though I said this was a bad movie, I realize what RZA was going for. I totally respect RZA's love for all things Chinese culture, cinema, and martial arts and you definitely can see it in the film.
Anyone who has even seen one ridiculous kung fu movie will recognize all the plot tropes: the 'avenging son' , the 'betraying second-in-command', 'star-crossed lovers', 'the feminist take over'.
In the same breath, however, you will also find every, single, overly cliched moment and line that will make you wince in pain every time it happens-- and there was A LOT of them. That's basically THE only downside to this movie.
For example, there is a really cool partner fight sequence with the Gemini Killers. The partner fight style was really clever in the whole 'yeah, I'm spinning my lithe female partner, but while you're ducking her kicks, I'm shooting you with a bullet to the face'. I don't know how else to explain it, but it was fun to watch.
Anyway, there is this moment, like in nearly every 1 versus 100 fight sequence, where the main fighters take their stance and pause to gauge their opponents. During this time, the Gemini Killers are taking this really cool upside down stance, and during the epic slow turn, far off camera, somebody shouts out, "It's the Gemini Stance!"
... Are you effing kidding me? State the obvious. Seriously. If I were one of the bad guys, I would have put down my weapon, called a time-out, and just slapped the hell out of whoever said it. Seriously, bro, you're going to state the obvious here. Now? Way to ruin the moment. *sigh*
On a positive note, what I find really clever is RZA named the epicenter of this little melodrama "Jungle Village" and appropriately too, as all the clans are named after animals named after their respective kung fu fight styles. I love the attention he gives each character, like the Lion Clan looking like, well, lions. See that hot mess of a 'mane'? Honestly, I was having GekiRanger flashbacks.
As for the actors, personally, I love Lucy Liu in nearly everything she does. Ever since Charlie's Angels and Kill Bill Vol. 1, I really just want to keep watching Liu kick ass, take names, and look smoking hot doing it. She certainly didn't disappoint here as Madam Blossom. Each scene with her in the Blossom Pleasure House is beautifully filmed with soft pinks, luxurious reds, and warm browns. It's really no surprise that the final all out brawl was filmed on this set. Furthermore, Madam Blossom's interaction with Russel Crowe's character, Jack Knife, is my personal favorite dynamic. How she can be erotic and dangerous yanking on his 'junk' and threatening to damage his boys if he hurts her ladies of the night, honestly blows my mind. She's a role model, that one.
Speaking of Russel Crowe, pay the $12 to watch this fool in one the best roles I have ever seen him in. Jack Knife is now up there as one of my favorite cinematic characters, next to GoGo, Captain Shakespeare, Tony Stark, and Leonidas. What makes Jack Knife memorable is there are layers, and layers, to his character and Crowe executes them with such nonchalant ease. He's ruthless, he's methodical, he guts his enemies in half (Jack, like 'The Ripper'. Get it?), he always brings a gun to a knife fight, he's an opium addict, he's formal and proper, he helps the honorable people in this story, he's a former assassin, he's drips sex appeal... Ack. Just watch him.
Also, Jack's final battle was with none other than my childhood Hong Kong cinema crush, Daniel Wu. Wu spent most of the movie hidden, but when I finally realized who he was and that he was going to go head to head with Jack (of all people!), I just lost my fangirl marbles. I've had a crush on Daniel Wu since I saw him in 1999's Gen-X Cops and it was such a wonderful moment to see him in a Hollywood film, facing off against a Hollywood legend. I didn't realize that it was a dream come true until I saw it happen. Thank you so much for this, RZA. <3
So, I didn't mind spending the extra movie theater money to watch this because it was beautifully shot and it's always fun to see martial arts on the big screen.
But I believe this is just a good renter movie, especially if you've got friends over and there's drinks to go around. Do check out the soundtrack though, because if RZA might be a bit rusty with his acting, writing, and directing, his music is always on point. Protect ya neck, son!! :P