Sometimes I’m sure we’ve all thought that someone was in something, or doing something, because of who they are rather than any discernible talent in that particular area.
Now I don’t know RZA, I’ve never met the man, never seen him interviewed, I only know his work from his time in the Wu Tang Clan, of whom I am a fan. So, when I found out about The Man With the Iron Fists, when I saw the teaser trailer, I was excited. Now, having seen it, I feel like he was given the chance because of who he is, rather than his ‘talent’.
The movie is ‘presented’ by Quentin Tarantino, I have no idea what that means exactly, he doesn’t appear anywhere, he doesn’t walk on at the beginning and tell you about the film (not the version I saw anyway) I suspect it’s just to add his weight to the movie and boy, does it need all the help it can get.
RZA goes all guns blazing with the film, he directs, writes (with some help from Eli Roth) and stars in it. I’ve got to say that not even the Wachowskis attempted that, and they had some movie experience at least.
I’m telling you all this because I’m putting off telling you anything about the film. The reason I’m putting off telling you anything about the film is because I’m struggling to find anything nice to say about it, and my mother always said…ah screw it!
Let’s start with the special effects, they’re appalling, like 1980’s Hong Kong appalling. The direction is all over the place, there’s a constant ‘floaty’ camera feel to it but it occasionally seems to get sea-sick. The editing is fast cuts that jar and seem too abrupt, there’s more wire work in this film than Thunderbirds and it makes the latter look good!
Most of the characters have Russell Brand hair, RZA does the voice over and has the strongest Brooklyn accent in the world which, once again, jars with the rest of the movie and actors. He’s not the only one however, Russell Crowe (yes that Russell Crowe) is in the film and is introduced as an ‘English Gent’ yet does nothing to hide his New Zealand accent. Lucy Liu, we’re informed, spent time in France yet speaks Chinese and then English with an American accent.
The dialogue is ham fisted (better title!), the acting is wooden, the camera work is awful (if you are forced to watch the film wait for the moment it ‘circles’ Russell Crowe) and without RZA’s constant droning voice-over you wouldn’t have a clue what was going on.
Think I’ve finished? Wrong. The music (hip-hop obviously) springs up every time there’s a fight scene of which there are many but which last seconds (except the finale). You miss a lot of the action during the fight scenes because of the directing, the camera is looking at completely the wrong thing most of the time. When the music isn’t hip-hop it’s the cheesiest of cheesy music that I think is supposed to tug at the heart strings but doesn’t, it feels like some cheap soap opera, and finally the continuity is laughable.
This feels like someone has had a million ideas and tried to cram them all into one movie. Why didn’t someone just say ‘hey, RZA, why not try your hand at something smaller first, see what happens’? Producer Marc Abraham is an experienced guy (In Time, Air Force One, Children of Men etc) in fact most of the producers and executive producers are experienced, as is Eli Roth yet no-one seems to have said this to him.
Worryingly, and I mean very worryingly, RZA has been handed the reins on two further films as director, one of those being Genghis Khan. It’s times like this when I just think…what’s the fucking point!