In nineteenth century China, Jungle Village is home to several warring clans. The village blacksmith Thaddeus (RZA) creates deadly weapons for the clans, intending to use his payments to purchase the freedom of his lover Lady Silk (Jamie Chung), and leave the village. The region’s governor tasks the Lion Clan’s leader Gold Lion with protecting a large shipment of gold that must pass through the village. Gold is betrayed by his lieutenants Silver Lion and Bronze Lion, who plan to steal the gold. They use the chaos ensuing from a fight with the Hyena Clan to allow their co-conspirator Poison Dagger-the governor’s aide-to assassinate Gold, after which Silver becomes the Lions’ leader. Gold’s son Zen-Yi (Rick Yune) learns of his father’s murder and sets off to the village to seek revenge. The Emperor’s undercover emissary Jack Knife (Russell Crowe) arrives in the village to monitor the gold and takes up residence in the Pink Blossom, a brothel run by Madam Blossom (Lucy Liu), Lady Silk’s madame. Silver sends members of the Rodent clan to kill Zen-Yi before he can reach the village, but Zen-Yi kills them. The mercenary Brass Body arrives in the village and he is sent to kill Zen-Yi. Eventually Zen-Yi is defeated by Brass Body and rescued by Thaddeus. Meanwhile the Gemini Female and the Gemini Male protect the Governor’s gold, but they are vanquished by the army of Silver and Bronze Lion. The Blacksmith is then abducted by the Lions and has his arms severed by Brass Body. However, he is saved by Jack Knife and later they both craft his greatest weapon: a pair of iron forearms that gives him powers beyond the normal…

“The Man with the Iron Fists” is an homage to the martial arts genre from the 70s, but fails to improve upon. There´s visual aesthetics and attention to details, but the script’s has an uneven tone and to be honest there´s a lot of bang but no real content. It feels random, way too theatrical dialogue and acting plus the direction is not up to scratch. RZA is way too laid back as the protagonist and he disappears in the shady background, plus he´s not really an actor. The Los Angeles Times’ Betsy Sharkey called it a martial-arts spectacle, which is pretty much what it is. With Tarantino and Eli Roth on the sidelines, it´s no wonder we get “extreme action” sequences, and it´s hard to not see a connection to “Kill Bill” in some scenes and the casting of Lucy Liu. But, the action is way too staged and technical, and not really of my liking. USA Today’s Scott Bowles was critical of the film, awarding it 1.5 stars out of 4. He said that the film is “heavy on bloody kung fu action…and light on just about everything else”, that it “doesn’t have enough tension to be taken seriously, or enough laughs to be taken lightly”, and called it “slick and hip”. Bowles wrote as well that the film has “beautifully choreographed moments, and the action sequences won’t disappoint any fans of slow-motion fistfights and arteries that gush like fire hydrants”. However, the digital blood splatters made the movie feel even more cartoony then it already is. The first cut of the film was four hours long…. RZA suggested splitting it into two films, but producer Eli Roth disagreed, and it was ultimately cut down to approximately 90 minutes. Thank god for that. On the plus side? Not really that much, except a radiant Jamie Chung. (2 out of 5)

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