The Man With The Iron Fists

Year: 2012
Production Co: Arcade Pictures
Director: RZA
Writer: RZA/Eli Roth
Cast: RZA, Rick Yune, Russell Crowe, Lucy Liu, Dave Bautista, Jamie Chung, Cung Le, Byron Manne

Tarantino perfected this kind of thing long ago, although he hasn't explicitly made a movie in this genre except for parts of the Kill Bill films.

RZA has a lot in common with QT in that he knows, loves and references many of the tropes and trappings of the genre, and makes it uniquely his own. He also has a lot in common with Tarantino in that he can't act to save his life. His monotone and single-expression are fixed in virtually every shot he's in, and you find yourself just pleading with him to do something. When he edges towards emotion, you find yourself pleading with him to go back to his one-note tone and face.

It's bad enough to take some of the edge of this otherwise very fine effort at a feudal Chinese cult film. RZA plays a blacksmith (you'll wonder how an African American ended up in shogun-era China, but a short throwaway sequence explains it) in a quiet village, going about his business and saving his money so he can take the woman he loves – a hooker at the upscale bordello in town – away from it all.

When a cache of government gold is left in town for safekeeping, a band of criminals descends on the town to steal it, and the blacksmith reluctantly teams up with a local prince who's been deposed by them (Yune) and a British army officer (Crowe, in game form) to fight them off.

There are some inventive fight scenes, a dose of magic and some humour. As always with these movies, even if they're done perfectly, they're homaging a very shoddy genre that's inherently constrained, so if you're not a cult fan, don't rush out to see it.

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