It’s rare that a film combines the various elements of narratology in a manner that inspires excitement and anticipation to the degree that RZA’s upcoming masterpiece, “The Man with the Iron Fists” has. Like any exemplary narrative, some of the most important elements – characters, setting, conflict and a masterfully spun plot – truly shine in this upcoming movie, but also included are several intangible elements that can’t simply be explained by narrative theory alone. When Aristotle first formed his theories of drama, he couldn’t have possibly anticipated the elements that separate “The Man with the Iron Fists” from the rest of 2012’s movies. Although, if Aristotle had been around in the 1990’s, I’m sure he would have bumped Wu Tang’s 36 Chambers from his chariot and folded rap into his philosophical theories. Anyway, check out my 6 reasons why this movie is worth every penny of admission; maybe even IMAX admission as well.
1. The story itself
First of all, the story, written by RZA and Eli Roth and directed by RZA, centers on the character of The Blacksmith, (played by RZA) who is forced to create elaborate weapons for his nineteenth-century Chinese village. The Blacksmith comes to the defense of his fellow villagers when a traitor threatens to destroy his village, joining an eclectic group of warriors and assassins all toting elaborate weapons created by The Blacksmith to protect the community. In fact, RZA not only protects his own neck but creates weapons so others can Protect They Neck as well. Like they say, “Teach a man to kill his enemies with a well-crafted weapon and he can kill for himself forever.”
2. RZA and Wu-Tang Clan
Let’s be honest – you could attach RZA or Wu-Tang Clan’s names to such nonsense as “Spiderman 3” and it would immediately skyrocket in popularity. Bobby Digital and Wu Tang have not only put out rap classics over the last two decades, the infusion of martial arts and Eastern philosophy with their music permeates all their albums, from 36 Chambers to the latest RZA-produced album: the soundtrack to “The Man with the Iron Fists.” Not only does RZA produce the film’s score, at the urging of Quentin Tarantino, but his soundtrack features original songs from Wu-Tang Clan, Talib Kweli, Ghostface Killah, Raekwon, Pusha T, Kanye West and collaborations by RZA with The Black Keys and Flatbush Zombies. The soundtrack is scheduled to be released on October 23, 2012. RZA also recently embarked on the "Iron Fists" Tour in preparation of the movie release.
3. Lucy Liu as Madame Blossom
Oh Lucy. Lucy Liu, the hottest of Charlie’s Angels, plays the role of Madame Blossom in the film. A seductive and delightfully manipulative character toting what appears to be a Chinese fan with sharp-tipped blades protruding as a weapon, Liu declares in the trailer, “Power belongs to no one, until it is seized through sex and violence.” Besides the obvious eye-candy, Liu looks to have an army of assassins behind her as she attempts to seize power through both of these methods. I’m sure fans appreciate both avenues, and will be waiting in anticipation to see the deadly Madame Blossom in action.
4. The Weapons
The Blacksmith not only wrecks opponents with his iron-sleeved fists, but he actually makes weapons too. Truly a manufacturing-based endeavor, The Blacksmith lists three ingredients necessary for successful weapon-making operation: “The right metal; temperatures over 1,400 degrees, and someone who wants to kill.” Luckily, all three are readily available in this small Chinese village. Some of the weapons I’ve mentioned before: the dagger-tipped fan of Madame Blossom; the iron fists of The Blacksmith; but other weapons include Jack Knife’s…umm…jack knife and Brass Body’s impenetrable brass body shell, among others. Forged in the fires of The Blacksmith, it’s certain that these weapons will be in heavy use, not like the unexplained samurai sword gathering dust on the wall of Pancho Loco.
5. Russel Crowe as Jack Knife
One of the best action movies of all time, The Gladiator, features Russell Crowe yelling at the Coliseum crowd, “Are you not entertained?” Well, yes, Russell, I am entertained and I can’t wait to see what you have in store as Jack Knife – an opium addicted soldier who totes his signature jack knife weapon. The character was partly inspired by RZA’s late cousin, the Ol’ Dirty Bastard (may he rest in peace). As a matter of fact, Jack Knife’s theme tune features a jaw harp cue that echoes ODB’s classic hit, Shimmy Shimmy Ya. A talented actor like Crowe joining forces with Lucy Liu and RZA can only result in elevating this movie to a whole new level.
6. Quentin Tarantino as a producer
Did I mention that Quentin Tarantino lent his name to this production as a producer and advised RZA on elements of the movie, such as convincing RZA to produce the score? Hmm…when was the last time Tarantino, Liu and RZA teamed up for a martial arts movie? Oh yeah, that would be Kill Bill Vol. 1, a movie that can be watched over and over because of its sheer genius and strength of characters. I’m not saying that Tarantino had as much creative control over “The Man with the Iron Fists,” as he did with Kill Bill – after all, this movie is written and directed by RZA – but throwing Tarantino into the mix can only help propel this movie to a whole new level. Crowe. Liu. RZA. Tarantino. Enough said.
“The Man with the Iron Fists” hits theaters on November 2, 2012.