The Man with the Iron Fists

By SentaiSeiya on June 14, 2013

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Welcome to another SentaiSeiya Live Action Movie review: a SLAM review.


In the Man with the Iron Fists, the writers, RZA and Roth, have succeeded in creating an interesting and somewhat-unique territory in China known as Jungle Village. This territory is filled with various clans, most of which borrow their names from the beasts of the wild. This becomes the backdrop to the story of a very talented blacksmith who gets involved in the strife amongst the clans in Jungle Village.

Much of the fighting in this tale is over the Governor’s gold, which the Lion Clan was supposed to help transport.  Instead there is a coup d’état in the Lion Clan, which propels the young Zen-Yi to seek revenge by taking down his former brothers in the Lion Clan. Zen-Yi is a very deadly fighter that is equipped with a suit of armor that houses numerous blades. Because of his armor that allows him to kill his enemies in sometimes-cool and sometimes-cheesy manners, Zen-Yi is known as the X-Blade; this has to be the dumbest name in the whole movie.

man with the iron fists

While most of the characters have cool names that harken back to the material that this movie is trying to praise, the name X-Blade just lacks a firm grounding in a good naming convention. It is the lamest name in the movie and all I could think of when it was used was the failed video game that had a similar title.

man with the iron fists

So the Man with Iron Fists is the RZA’s homage to Martial Arts movies. However, while this movie is a good attempt by the RZA’s to share his love of the genre with the world, the movie fails to become more than the material it is trying to pay tribute to.  The setting and story are perhaps the strongest part of this movie. The rest of the cinematic experience is brought down by weaker elements storytelling and filmmaking. For instance, at one point in the movie the bad guys are looking for X-Blade and they somehow find out that the blacksmith is aiding him. Even after an intense interrogation and threats to his beloved brothel girl, the blacksmith refuses to give up X-Blade’s location. So the bad guys leave him for dead, without any new information on the whereabouts of X-Blade.

man with the iron fists

It is at this point that any logical person would decide to pay a visit to the blacksmith’s significant other, since she is also likely to know where X-Blade is hiding. Instead the bad guys in this movie just up give up on finding X-Blade, knowing full well that he is a clear and present danger to them and their operation.  

Besides some spotty writing, the acting in the movie could have also used some work.

man with the iron fists

While Russell Crowe and Lucy Liu show us that they have been around the acting block a couple of times, the RZA and some of the other actors deliver performances that are passable for the type of movie that this is. And maybe that is what they were going for in this movie, after all Martial Arts movies have never been the type of movies that would warrant an Oscar for the performances that are delivered in between ass-whoopings.

The fights in this movie are also a mixed bag. It was hard to tell if the movie was striving for solid modern Martial Arts movie, a la Tarantino, or if they were trying to recreate the goofy yet violent feel of Martial Arts movies from the past.  What is more the execution and delivery of a couple of the fight scenes is a bit out of place. The opening scene in the movie fails to give any context to the fight that is occurring, so it appears to be an all-out brawl between characters that the viewer does not know or recognize.  Also, once the Man with the Iron fists makes his fighting appearance, it is not as spectacular as it should be for the character that the movie is named after. I think part of the thunder was stolen early in the movie with the introduction of the Iron Body character.  By the time Man with the Iron Fists makes his appearance, the audience has already become accustomed to a man whose entire body can turn into metal.  So what is so special about just having Iron Fists?

man with the iron fists

Ultimately, these two men of   iron body parts square off in the final fight of the film; a fight which turns out to be pretty cliché, but has a cool finale.

In the end, there is enough action in the Man with the Iron Fists to make it a good popcorn flick. Just don’t try to think too much about the story or the dialogue, as some of it leaves a bit to be desired. This is the kind of movie that is best after SLAMing down a couple of cold beers, because then you are less likely to be critical of the movies shortcomings and will enjoy its blood, gore and cheesiness for what it is.

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