Here's A Fist. to Your Face

Manila Bulletin, February 4, 2013 | Go to article overview

Here's A Fist. to Your Face


Had it not brandished Quentin Tarantino's name, it would have been written off as a silly knock-off. Presented by the acclaimed director who is also credited as producer, "The Man With The Iron Fists" vies to be epic. After all, it does tell a tale of clan wars and gold, of retribution and righteous killings.

It follows a trail of gold passing through Jungle Village, home to some warring clans whose leader, Gold Lion, is betrayed by his own kin led by Silver Lion (they way too theatrical Byron Mann). Thrown into the treacherous mix is Gold Lion's son, the avenging Zen-Yi (Rick Yune), also known as X-Blade whose killer body armor spouts spikes in strategic places; the initially mysterious Jack Knife (Russell Crowe) with an awesome weapon of choice; and the weapon-making blacksmith (RZA) that aims to save enough money to buy out his lady love from Madame Blossom's (Lucy Liu) brothel and leave the village.

There's a noble quest in there somewhere, but in most instances, save from some even mildly impressive fight scenes, the results are worthier of hearty laughter - granted my companion and I were probably the only ones laughing during the screening.

First-time director RZA (of Wu Tang Clan fame) must have taken copious notes from Tarantino during his on-set visits (the two first met when the former produced the "Kill Bill" soundtrack). Although clearly enamored by '70s martial arts films and his mentor's wacky directorial style, RZA seems a little too wet behind the ears for the multiple task of writer, director, star, narrator and music producer he's set up for himself.

Those who don't care about Tarantino's work would miss the imitations, but QT audience would be able to tell. For instance, in Tarantino's "Django Unchained," the title character (Jamie Foxx) rides across the western plains during the heyday of black slavery wearing, of all things, shades! RZA's main antagonist in "Iron Fists" also dons a pair, quite uncharacteristic in 19th Century China. Chalk it up to creative license, sure; but coincidence much?

It's one thing to do an homage; it's another to do so missing the point. It's not just about adapting the same style and elements. When Tarantino showers his scenes with fake sprouting blood and ridiculous shoot-outs, you could almost tell he's winking at you from behind the camera at the absurdity of it all. …

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