The Man with The Iron Fists was one of the most wanted to see from a list of my film releases of 2012. Development began as early as 2005 and after nearly two years of development, RZA and Eli Roth were able to secure financial backing in May 2010. Filming began in December 2010 on a $20 million budget and concluded by March 2011.
The story takes place in mid 19th century China in Jungle village, where gang clans fight each other. The leader of the Lion’s clan accepts a job to guard a large shipment of imperial gold, but became a victim of betrayal of his two assistants Silver and Bronze Lions played by Byron Mann and Cung Le. While the leader’s son Zen-Yi races back to town the Lion clan attacks the rival Hyena clan and get into a deal with Madam Blossom, the owner of the local brothel. In the middle of all this is Thaddeus played by RZA, a blacksmith who makes his money supplying all sides with weapons, and collection that money to run away with his girlfriend.
I like when martial arts scenes supported by rap beats and RZA definitely knows how to do that, his work in movie soundtracks including the music for Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill film has always been heavily influenced by 70s movie scores.
Talking about characters I want to underline Jack Knife played by Russell Crowe, he gives an amazingly performance as a Boozy British mercenary and thug for hire Brass Body played by David Bautista who can turn his body into brass and Lucy Lui as an evil madam who feels really good about being really bad. Theses three stars are just outshining the main characters when they share screen time, especially sleepy acting of RZA …and of cause you will be impressed by Jamie Chung’s beauty and sexuality.
The main trouble of the Man with The Iron Fists movie is, nobody watches kung fu movies for the plot, everyone expects to see outstanding fight scenes. At first this movie certainly looks like it’s going to be a crazy all-action beat-down carnival, but in reality is turns out to an average wire-fu rumble with a lot of fights but without a pretty impressive and memorable one. This sounds more disappointed because maestro Corey Yuen served as an action coordinator for this movie. Maybe this old time genre is not his cup of tea because he did a great job before on Transporter, DOA, Expendables and others. And even some fighting scenes were done in one take did not save the movie.
You won’t find the grace and balletic movement that characterises Zhang Yimou’s and Ang Lee’s martial arts movies but there is plenty of Shaw Brothers-style mayhem. The Man with The Iron Fists certainly won’t appeal to everyone but if you like martial arts movies then this is a must-see movie.
1. Corey Yuen acted as the film’s action choreographer. Some scenes were done in one take to compensate for time lost to filming issues.
2. Approximately 6 weeks into filming, RZA began pushing the crew to work faster to remain on schedule. His assistant director eventually informed RZA that the push was resulting in stunt workers receiving injuries and being sent to the hospital daily. After this, RZA abandoned some of his intended shots and replaced them with Computer Generated Images (CGI).
3. Crowe and Le were originally scripted to fight each other, but Crowe’s limited shooting schedule meant he would not have the time to rehearse the fight, and Le instead was scripted to fight Liu.
4. The first cut of the film was 4 hours long and RZA suggested splitting it into two films, but Roth disagreed and it was ultimately cut down to 96 minutes to meet the studios requirements and to excise gorier content that would gain the film a restrictive rating, limiting its audience.
5. One effect that was written specifically for computer effects saw Yune’s character kill 6 opponents, and their resulting airborne blood spray.
6. The action scenes resulted in several injuries, including Bautista who was left with raw and bleeding arms by RZA’s sandpaper-like iron fists, during their fight scene.
7. The cast features several veteran martial-arts actors including: Chen Kuan-tai as Golden Lion, the murdered leader of the Lion clan; Bryan Leung as Hyena Chief, leader of the Hyena clan; Telly Liu as Iron Lion; Xue Jing Yao as Copper Lion; Zhu Zhu as Chi Chi, Zen-Yi’s fiancee; Terence Yin as the Governor; and Gordon Liu as The Abbot, a stoic monk. Liu’s role was written for RZA’s Shaolin teacher Shi Yan Ming, but Ming could not obtain permission to return to China for filming.