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Movie Review: The Man With the Iron Fists

By Ashahed M. Muhammad -Asst. Editor- | Last updated: Nov 15, 2012 - 1:15:16 PM

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(FinalCall.com) - If you are acquainted with Hip-Hop, you are probably already familiar with RZA’s discography and undoubtedly aware of many of his works. His accomplishments are almost too numerous to list. He created and led to prominence what many consider one of the most influential Hip-Hop groups ever, The Wu Tang Clan. He is an award winning music producer, author of two books (The Tao of Wu and the Wu Tang Manual) and a film and television actor. Like all members of the Wu-Tang Clan, he has several aliases, an alter ego (Bobby Digital) and he seems to always be involved in a new project.

You have heard his music on soundtracks for martial-arts themed and inspired movies such as Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, Kill Bill and the anime series Afro-Samurai. His musical compositions have always had depth and cinematic quality that one could easily see transferred to the big screen, and with the film The Man With the Iron Fists, RZA, in his feature directorial debut, allows all the creative energy within his aesthetic mind to spring forth into a marvelously enjoyable motion picture.

The Man With the Iron Fists is a modern take on the old style kung-fu flick however, unlike many of the kung-fu flicks of the past which bring back feelings of nostalgia for fans of the genre, this movie is not campy, not corny, well-paced and well organized. In some action movies, there is so much going on during the fight scenes you are unable to see what is really going on. I don’t like that. In Iron Fists, the fight scenes are definitely fast moving, however, they are shot in a unique and visually striking manner that allows you to appreciate the hand-to-hand combat, transitioning nicely from one panoramic view and landscape to the next.

We are familiar with the manner in which Hollywood’s film creations are used to propagandize and the sophisticated ease with which the film industry maximizes its awesome ability to create images. Pick any movie aimed at young viewers and you are likely to witness oblique references to the Holocaust, or even aspects of that specific portion of the historical narrative woven into the story lines of the characters. For examples of this, consider Inglorious Basterds, the X-Men series of films and most recently The Avengers, all movies I thoroughly enjoyed. With great skill, RZA authentically and effectively weaves in aspects of the Black slavery experience in a manner that is neither overbearing nor preachy. In this way, he uses entertainment to also educate and does it in a way I wish more Black musical artists, authors, and screenplay writers would emulate.

As if writing and directing wasn’t enough, RZA held down the lead role as the reflective Blacksmith, the leading weapons maker in a rural area of feudal China called Jungle Village. His ethical cognitions and symbolic transformation prove critical in the film providing keys to understanding the entire plot. The struggle for tribal supremacy provides unpredictable plot twists. With so many intriguing parallel story lines, Iron Fists will maintain your interest throughout.

The excellent character development and realistic interaction between them will surely make for interesting analysis and endless discussions by movie fans late into the night and for days and weeks to come.

Byron Mann was outstanding as the callously villainous Silver Lion, and the well-known former professional wrestler Dave Bautista works as the despicably brutal and seemingly indestructible Brass Body. Russell Crowe was cruelly calculating as British soldier Jack Knife, and Lucy Liu was superb as the devastatingly devious Madame Blossom. Rick Yune should also be commended for a good job as Zen-Yi, the deadly X-Blade.

RZA has spoken of how much he learned as an observant pupil during his apprenticeship under acclaimed film director Quentin Tarantino, and it shows. Co-writer Eli Roth’s valuable expertise and experience contributed to the enhancement of the project as well.

For Iron Fists, there is a soundtrack as well as a musical score both available through iTunes. Posters, action figures, books, and undoubtedly sequels will surely be spawned. RZA’s trailblazing and powerful entry into this aspect of the movie industry should be celebrated within the Hip Hop Nation. I think an entirely new movie genre has begun which will provide a source of thought-provoking entertainment for decades to come.

(The Man With The Iron Fists is showing in theaters nationwide. For movie trailers, bios and photo galleries visit www.ironfists.com.)